The benefits we receive from the technology that has become part of our lives are definitely many. Yet, if we are not mindful, our children can spend the majority of their time relating to their world by way of machines. In some cases, children spend more time in another “reality” than they do in the one they actually inhabit. As parents, we need to be thinking about the potential positive and negative aspects of children’s unlimited access to this new world. Just because it exists doesn’t mean constant exposure is good or expected.
As parents, it is important to consider what is happening in our children’s bodies and minds when they watch television, play video games, or search the World Wide Web. What messages are they taking in? How passive are they as they watch? Are they in a trance or conscious? What are they not doing that they could be doing during the time they watch TV, play video games, or search the Web? How is the time spent with machines affecting your child’s attitudes and behaviors? How does technology use affect how they view themselves or the larger world?
In contrast, observe your children after they have engaged in some creative process. Drawing, painting, singing, reading, or being read to tickles their minds, brings them pleasure, elevates them, and adds excitement to life. Creative pursuits invite pauses, connections, and shared moments and develop the imagination. Children are then engaged in their own real life and the possibilities available to them.
Our children don’t need to live in isolation from the technology available today, but they do need more than a steady diet of it. Children need time spent in imaginative play, in green spaces, and in creative pursuits. They need downtime and time with family. Parents can make choices that promote more balance and enrich the lives of children. In the process of making these choices, parents may find that they enrich their own lives too.