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Our Kids Could Learn A Lot From Ricky Gervais

14/06/2013 09:19 BST | Updated 11/08/2013 10:12 BST

No really, hear me out.

In his recent Huff Po blog post, Gervais celebrated the importance of - in his words - "dicking about". In other more family-friendly words, playing, mucking around, trying things, being creative.

Gervais explained: "Scientific studies of creativity have basically concluded that it can't be taught, as it is a 'facility' rather than a learned skill. Putting it very crudely, creativity is the ability to play. And, to be able to turn that facility on and off when necessary. This makes perfect sense to me. Everything I've ever written, created or discovered artistically has come out of playing."

It's very easy to associate the lumpy shapes lying on the sofa, backlit faces grunting, with a lack of creativity. It's a common accusation made of 'kids today' (which invariably means 'other people's children' rather than our own) that they are passive zombies. All they can do is consume, their brains softened through hours of unfettered screentime. Well, I cry BS on this.

For a start, I spent my fair share of time slumped in front of the box as a child, soaking up Top of the Pops and Neighbours. But I also wrote songs (terrible, terrible songs) inspired by what I heard, I wrote stories (terrible, terrible stories), full of heartfelt schmaltzy stuff inspired by storylines on soaps. And I'd like to think that as an adult, I'm a less terrible professional writer as a result of everything I sponged up and copied and played with as a child. And all the mistakes I was allowed to make, while I produced far from polished works of art.

But more importantly, and less egotistically, the electronic playthings our kids have access to today are a bucketload more creative than any joystick I had at my disposal. My own kids create incredible worlds in Minecraft, my 11-year-old daughter can create actual songs in GarageBand, my five-year-old creates what he calls actual songs using Toca Band. They create all the time. And to them, they're playing.

We should all be more playful, and we should recognise that all the tools that can be seen as instruments of passivity and sloth can just as easily be seen as tools to create, as playthings to inspire. A tablet is only as good or bad as the apps on it, and there are just so many inspirational apps there's really no excuse for letting technology hamper creativity, when it can be quite the other way around.