This recent article about reducing screen-time for young kids centres around childhood obesity and decreasing activity levels, but the take home message is the same. Get the kids away from the digital devices and into the real world. This issue has never been more relevant than it is today. I remember watching TV as a kid (especially in the winter as I grew up in a very cold climate) but mostly I remember playing a lot. Today, everywhere I look, young kids are playing with iPads, iPhones and portable gaming devices. They are plugged in and zoned out. They are usually sitting next to their plugged in, zoned out parents.
At Paisley’s weekly swimming lesson, there is a bleacher set up on the pool deck for all the parents and siblings to watch. The lesson last half an hour. The first few times I sat there I couldn’t believe how lonely I felt. I was surrounded by parents of young kids and each and every one of them (I am not exaggerating here folks) was either texting on a phone or watching a video on a phone or playing a video game while their kids swam. I was hoping to meet some other parents, have a little chat, and heck, maybe even watch my kid swim. All the siblings were on devices too. I watched an 18 month-old sitting in front of me play a video game on her Mom’s iPhone. She clearly knew what she was doing. Last week I saw a Mom pushing her preschooler around the grocery store with a DVD player in the little girl’s lap. What the hell are we doing? (Okay, I totally know that I sounds like a 90-year-old woman but bear with me…)
Our job is to teach kids about the world. I get that it can be exhausting and hard but that’s what we signed up for. I get that children sometimes need to be entertained while we get something important done but surely, texting our friends isn’t that important. When
kids people are forever plugged into devices (and by extension, unplugged from the world) we miss things. We miss opportunities to meet new people, to have interesting conversations, to talk to our kids about healthy food or why we are buying what we are buying or where a lemon comes from. We fail them physically when we put on the TV rather than take them outside. And at some level – we know we are failing them.
People usually know what the right thing is. It’s the doing that’s the hard part. People often choose the easy over the right. Whether that applies to staying with the wrong partner because it’s too hard to leave, believing in God because the alternative is too frightening, or putting on the television instead of getting on the floor and playing with your kids…it’s all the same. Is choosing the easy path really a lesson we want to teach the next generation?