My daughter is a swimmer and we were at a meet this weekend with hundreds of children from the ages of 5-17. My daughter, like most swimmers, had time in between her events, so she asked what she should do. I started to think about it, and decided to observe the other children. Instead of talking, hanging out, and/or interacting, most of these kids were playing their handheld electronic devices.
I know that I had blogged over the summer how I was disappointed that during summer events there wasn’t an opportunity for me to meet other parents at pick up and drop off, because they were all on cell phones, texting, etc.
The same is happening with children. Instead of getting to know one another, talking, interacting, socializing, they are on electronic devices. They were watching movies, texting, listening to IPods, playing video games, etc. I am wondering what we are doing to our children. I have fond memories of hanging out at sporting events making up games, talking, finding out about other kids, and who I was in the social interactions around me. I finally told my daughter to come up in the stands and sit with me in between events since she was the only one without a device. I was noticing that the younger ones had handheld video game devices, where the older ones would listen to music on their IPods, and text at the same time, while sitting in a circle as if they were really spending time with one another. It was very strange.
You could tell that these kids were friends, but they weren’t able to truly interact without the crutch of a cell phone or headphones. I am just wondering what is in store for this young generation that they can’t go up to a group of peers and start a conversation without the averted eye contact while texting, or without one headphone in their ear listening to music? I just wonder if we are crippling them socially?
I have been thinking of what my New Year’s Resolution might be in this new year. I was thinking about healthy eating, becoming more active, among other generic resolutions that we all promise to ourselves in January and then forget about in February. So I have been thinking about what I could really promise to do this new year, and try to put my best foot forward.
I am going to try and have my family spend less time media consumed and more time together. I think that families are so busy, whether you are involved in sports, clubs, various activities, church, work, school, homework, family obligations, etc. BUT what if when you are home with your family, you don’t turn the television on first thing, and keep it on all night? What would happen then? I have tried it with my family for the last few weeks, and have found that if the television isn’t on, we find things to do togther. We have played more games, read books together, do puzzles, etc. What I have found with my children is that they go and FIND things to do.
When we have free time, my oldest child will ask if we can watch television first, and then play the Wii second, and when both answers are no, she protests, but then plays with the toys she was given for Christmas, will find my son and they will make up games to play together, as well as other creative activities. She even came to me the other day and said that she had made up a routine to show me with music, choreography, and costumes. Instead of sitting mindlessly on the couch my kids are now playing hide and seek, creating art projects and spending time engaging with one another.
I don’t want to try and tell everyone that we don’t watch ANY television because that isn’t accurate, however, during the week my oldest child does not watch any television because she is just too busy, and on the weekend she would rather be outside playing in the snow, riding bikes, or playing games. My son stays at home with me and he is allowed one show in the morning. My daughter has one show that she watches on Sunday and we enjoy doing that together.
I have heard that little rhyme that says the families that play together stay together….and have always chuckled at the phrase, but the meaning seems true. The more you can “play” or be together the stronger your bond together will be!