Childrens' Entertainment

Childrens’ Entertainment

Children’s Entertainment

Middle Ages (c.500-1500)

  • During this period, children’s entertainment was often aligned with learning skills necessary for adulthood like sewing, farming or fighting.

  • Toys were usually homemade, using materials such as wood, bone or cloth. Dolls, spinning tops and wooden animals were popular.

  • Outdoor games like tag, hiding games, and a rudimentary form of cricket were common.

  • Storytelling was a major form of entertainment, with children learning about moral values, religious teachings, and historical events through folktales and religious stories.

Early Modern Period (c.1500-1800)

  • The first books specially made for children started to appear, such as hornbooks which were used to teach children how to read.

  • More structured and formalized games began to emerge, reflecting advancements in societal and cultural norms.

  • Puppet shows like Punch and Judy became popular, serving both as entertainment and moral instruction.

19th Century

  • Growth of children’s literature, with notable authors like Lewis Carroll and Beatrix Potter, presenting children with imaginative worlds to explore.

  • The Industrial Revolution brought mass-produced toys which became more readily available and diversified, including mechanical toys and trains.

  • The concept of childhood as a distinct phase of life was recognised, leading to more focus being placed on children’s leisure and entertainment activities.

20th Century to Present

  • The invention of radio, television, and later the internet massively impacted children’s entertainment.

  • Popular franchises like the Harry Potter series embodied the growth of multi-media entertainment platforms, spanning books, films, games and merchandise.

  • Video games have ushered in a new era of interactive entertainment, beginning with simple arcade games and evolving into complex online virtual realities.

  • Access to entertainment has been transformed by handheld devices; younger generations now access music, games, films, and social media on smartphones and tablets.

  • The growth of educational entertainment (known as edutainment) seeks to combine learning and fun, majorly impacting children’s television, games, and apps.

  • Children’s participation in organized leisure activities, like sport clubs and music groups, has increased.