Why Playgrounds and Tic-Tac-Toe are important for Child Development

Updated: Jun 24, 2021

Tic-tac-toe has been a part of almost everyone’s childhood, but for the wrong reasons. Most adults and children think it’s a simple game to pass the time; that it’s a game similar to what playing on the playground means today—it’s done when the power’s out and there’s nothing else to do.

Now that there are a lot of mobile game apps available, the importance of playground time and the seemingly simple game of tic-tac-toe has been overlooked. Children nowadays learn to be technologically savvy at an early age, using tablets or smartphones to learn their ABCs or hear audios of bedtime rhymes. This presents a problem especially if it sacrifices children’s time for fun outdoors like playing at a commercial playground with other kids or playing games and puzzles with either their parents or teachers.

You might not even realize that simple activities like these can affect your children’s development, especially in their formative years.

Tic-Tac-Toe: A Game with Competing Goals

While the game of tic-tac-toe is really old, dating back to ancient Egyptians at around 1300 B.C., the underlying principles of the game have endured the test of time. The game seems simple enough. Two opponents, one using X and one using O, use a 3 x 3 grid to mark their symbols. The first one to get all three of his/her symbols in a row, whether it’s diagonal, horizontal, or vertical, wins the game. The ingenious catch here for children, which adults find trivial, is that the game is designed to end up in a draw. Only when one opponent makes a mistake will the other opponent win. This is where the simple game of tic-tac-toe gets a little more complicated.