New Research Shows Childhood Play Impacts Future Career Paths
by The Genius of Play Team
What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question that everyone hears at some point in their life, and according to new research nearly half of adults surveyed (43%) say they are living out their childhood dream jobs.
Commissioned by The Genius of Play and conducted by OnePoll, a recent survey of 2,000 adults in the U.S. with children ages 3–14 revealed an interesting connection between childhood playtime and chosen career paths.
“Fake it till you make it!” might be a common expression in the real working world, but this new research proves that there is some truth to roleplaying the job you want —especially as a child.
A third of adults surveyed said how they played as kids impacted the careers they pursued later in life, and on average, respondents reported deciding on their dream job by age 7 and landing that job by age 23.
The survey looked at factors that influenced their careers, with 32% reporting the toys they played with as a child influenced their career path. Other factors ranged from the activities (sports, clubs, etc.) they participated in (50%) to the media they consumed (40%), as well as the careers of their parents (34%) and influence of friends and siblings (21%).
In addition, most employed adults surveyed reported implementing many of the soft skills they learned through play as kids in their daily jobs today. These skills include creativity (56%), teamwork (50%), problem-solving (42%), empathy (41%), and communicating with others (39%).
Playtime hobbies aren’t just childhood pastimes to reminisce about either, but interests that many respondents have carried over into adulthood. From drawing to music to writing, science and more, these survey results emphasize that play continues to be a powerful tool at any age.
Eighty-six percent of those surveyed are now encouraging their own kids to play with toys to learn valuable skills they, too, could use as adults. While the majority of those surveyed reported frequently encouraging their child to play with toys that would enrich their learning, many also hoped those toys would inspire future careers in specific fields such as the sciences, tech, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.
And whether a child makes the leap from roleplaying as a doctor to becoming one at the end of the day isn’t what matters. What does matter is that they are having fun in the process!