In the current study, we explored changes in the lived play experiences of college students as they were sent home in March 2020 in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, and the impacts of those play changes upon their daily lives, relationships, and well-being. Undergraduates (N = 71) from a public university near New York City - the epicentre of the pandemic in the United States at that time - completed an open-ended questionnaire about their play experiences before versus after lockdown. Data were analyzed using template analysis to develop a hierarchical outline of thematic codes. Participant responses revealed strikingly varied experiences in their play lives as a result of the lockdown. While some students experienced deep losses in what and with whom they played, for others the transition offered opportunities for discovery (or rediscovery) of play activities or a reprioritization of play in their lives. Still other students found ways to maintain their prior ways of playing with minor disruption. We will discuss the implications of the current findings for the role and importance of play not only during the pandemic, but also in the context of emerging adulthood and broader human need satisfaction.
Play, Adult play, Play deprivation, Emerging adulthood, Self-determination theory, COVID-19 pandemic
How to Cite
Maynard, D. & Rodriguez, K. & DeBonis, A. & Moquin, A. & Paras, T., (2022) “Changes in the play lives of college students during the early COVID-19 pandemic lockdown”, The Journal of Play in Adulthood 4(1), p.1–27. doi: https://doi.org/10.5920/jpa.971