What ever happened to good ole fashioned play? You remember how we'd go outside and dig holes, make mud pies? pretend we were kings and queens? Have we finally traded our magic wands for a stylus, our bicycles for laptops, our elaborate imaginative and theatrically involved musings for online games, a wii and a smart cycle?
It's really odd to me that kids today prefer to stay inside and 'level up" instead of going outside to ride their bikes across town. Yet, I know that if you walk into a 3rd grade classroom today and ask, "How many of you know how to ride a bike, if you are lucky 5 hands go up. Go into that same classroom and write a sentence on the board in cursive and likely none of the kids can read it. That is because our schools are enamored with technology, despite the research indicating the fact that keyboarding is not as effective for memory of information as taking hand-written notes. Despite the fact that many studies suggest that "screen time" be limited due to the sedating and often addictive nature of computers. The worst part being we as Educators have not even attempted to challenge the status quo, rather we allow ourselves to be victimized by the tsunami of technology standards and e=we even helped write them. Did anyone stop to ask a simple, yet very important question: "But, is it good for our children?"
I have often thought this simple question asked at the end of every corporate or political meeting ought to be the ultimate vetting of an idea as worthy or unworthy of pursuit. I have dreamed of a day when women would be in the majority and as mothers would consider this the only real and viable assessment of whether or not to move forward with a new product or not. Certainly, I thought, if Dow Chemical had had such a vetting process Formula 409 would never have made it to market.
Yet, our mothers were at home then and they were thrilled to try out any and all products assuming their safety had already been considered. The result or not asking this question? We now have thousands of toxic products we use to clean our homes, make-up and personal care products that adorn our skin and even GMO foods we ingest and even feed to our children, blindly accepting their efficacy without giving our scrutiny to even a small fraction of these toxic chemicals.
Gradually we are waking up and yes, women now number over 50% of the workforce. So, in addition to asking questions about whether our food is safe, we need to begin to look a bit more critically at when and how we wish to engage our children with technology - at least when our little ones are in our care at home.
Sadly, we are only now beginning to question the use of technology in our classrooms after we have begun to see the ill effects of excessive "screen time' on children. Perhaps we, as Educators and parents need to become more discerning quicker. Since Dr. Nicholas Kardaras wrote the book, Glow Kids, we have begun to realize that just because a 12 month old can click an iPad, doesn't mean she or he should be encouraged to use one. We all know the terrible temptation of using the iPad or TV as a babysitter. The problem starts when we allow our kids to use electronics in their bedrooms which, according to Tom Kersting, Author of Disconnected: How to Reconnect Our Digitally Distracted Children, begins to turn our preteens to secrecy and isolation from family time. Mr. Kersting is a Guidance Counselor in a High School and he wrote this book to provide guidance to all of us on how to set appropriate limits with electronics for our children. I find I recommend this book quite often.
So, I am not writing this to chastise or judge, rather to suggest that maybe we have begun to be a bit more lax than is good for our kids and perhaps if we learn a bit more about just how addicting electronics can be and how we have a job to do as parents to balance all resources, games, and opportunities, making sure that our kids lead productive and balanced social, emotional and intellectual lives, we may find we are all just a bit happier than if we relax into a sort of electronically-induced sedation.