I have come back from holidays in Cork & Kerry. We have an only child, a little girl full of devilment ( I wonder where she gets that from? )
During our travels, which involved a 3 hour car journey from Dublin to Cork and then another 2.5 hours to Kerry, we resorted to setting up the iPad for her and letting her watch 2 movies, back to back.
Why? Because I always remember the car journeys when we were kids.
- Are we there yet?....
- I'm hungry Mammy!...
- What 'colour is the next car' competitions...
- Hours of general knowledge quizzes...
Ok, there were four of us, all squashed in the back of a ford Cortina, but the memories are of fun and lots of laughter. Blocked out are the elbow digs and arm bruising, but the general vibe is pretty positive.
So the guilt kicks in when I feel like I am taking away those potential memories by plonking a screen in front of my daughter. Yes, it enables adult conversation ( a rarity when you have an only child and mountains of issues with too much screen time) which in turn nurtures the adult relationship.
More importantly though from a Creativity point of view - are we taking away the space our smallies need to develop imagination and Creativity? Drip feeding them images, games and movies. Showcasing what 'fun' looks like before they can make up their own mind. This is where I cringe and carve more of a crater between my eyebrows.
What kind of Society are we developing for the future?
We can already see the effects of technology on adults around us. Stuck in phones, reaching for twitter feeds before kissing our partners good morning. Seriously ?
Why then do we find it is ok to constantly provide screen entertainment for our children?
Where will the future Artists, Poets and Crafters emerge if they have not got the time to daydream.
To just 'be' and to think.
To befriend the imagination.
As adults, we need to do more of this to nurture our Creative selves.
To go on dates with our imagination.
How lush is that!
TECHNOLOGY & EDUCATION
Every school has iPad's now and are upgrading this that and the other thing. Of course, education is key for innovation and progression, don't get me wrong, I am all for that! But now trending in Silicon Valley - the mother ship of technology as we know it, is this....
There is a trend of tech execs and engineers who shield their kids from technology. They even send their kids to non-tech schools like the Waldorf School in Los Altos, where computers aren’t found anywhere because they only focus on hands-on learning.
There is a quote that was highlighted in The Times by Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics and a father of five. He explains what drives those who work in tech, to keep it from their kids.
“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules… That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”
Steve Jobs wouldn’t, and for good reason too.
In a Sunday article, New York Times reporter Nick Bilton said he once assumingly asked Jobs, “So your kids must love the iPad?” Jobs responded:
“They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
So to sum it up.
Learning in different ways has helped us become more well-rounded individuals so, should we be worried that we are robbing our children of the ability to Snapchat and play “Candy Crush” all day if we don’t hand them a smartphone, or should we worry more that we would be robbing them of a healthier, less dependent development if we do hand them a smartphone?
I think Steve Jobs had it right, in regard to his kids.
So the next time you think about how you will raise your kids, you may want to (highly) consider not giving them whatever fancy tech we’ll have while they are growing up.
Play outside with them and surround them with nature; they might hate you, but they will absolutely thank you for it later, because I’m willing to bet that’s exactly how many of us feel about it now, that we are older.