While technology has afforded our society vastly expanded opportunities, it’s also a double-edged sword.
Who among us has not felt a pang of sadness at the sight of a wired-up child staring goggle-eyed at an iPad, loath to engage with the non-digital world? Melissa Bernstein, co-founder of the Melissa & Doug toy company, is spearheading a movement to take back childhood.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recently issues guidelines on how much media use is appropriate for children, and it comes as no surprise to anyone that children would be better off with less screen time. What they do need is more time to engage in creative play and exercise their imaginations. The toxic combination of over-stimulation, over-scheduling, academic pressure and tech obsession is detrimental to developing creative thinking skills. Curiosity and exploration are pushed to the side, and opportunities for growth wither on the vine.
While adults may remember the delights of a childhood spent building castles out of cardboard boxes and staging battles with imaginary dragons, today’s kids have no idea what kind of fun they’re missing out on. They need free time away from screens, but how do we get them to want it? And sometimes kids need to be bored, but in the current environment parents equate a bored and idle child with parental failure.
Bernstein realizes that parents need to take an active role in giving imagination the free reign to blossom, as well as offer the coaching that will ignite it. She suggests building free, non-screen time into the family schedule. Encourage activities like painting, and drawing, cupcake making or playing outside. If necessary, join the kids in the activities until they’re ready to carry on. Even turn them out of the house with orders to play. If we want to raise our children to become active and engaging adults, we need to push them to develop their imaginations now.
For more information, please read:
How We’re Endangering our Kids’ Imaginations | Time