For those of us who can remember the time before iPads, the Internet, a gazillion channels on TV, and video games, we have a reference point of what it was like not to have to compete with technology. Before television, we played outside, did chores, read books, practiced piano, made hand crafts, built models, worked in the garden, visited the neighbors, rode our bikes, built forts in the vacant lot, explored the woods, and lots of other activities. As a child, I remember my mother encouraging us to go play outside. On long summer days, I can remember being gone for hours outside playing either alone or with friends. It could have been because my mother was so trusting that our neighborhood was safe. It could have been that she needed some peace and quiet and she really didn’t like having bored children around. It could have been that she actually thought that it was healthy for us to use our imaginations and to invent our own amusements. Whatever her motives, life for us was very different then.
My generation grew up along with technology. I was born the year my family got a television set. There were very few shows in those days and they were in black and white, so we were not very attached. Over the years, though, television became more and more of a presence in our home. Like every other family, watching television went from being something the family did together by event to the ever-present intruder that drew more and more attention away from other activities.
Wherever there is something with the power for good, the Adversary can also exploit it for evil. We must learn to be responsible with our use of technology.
My children grew up with the computer, video games, the Internet, personal music players, and the “latest greatest” technological devices. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. Like everybody else, I feel like I couldn’t last a day without it. But, I don’t like competing with it. Parenting takes a lot more skill and determination these days. Getting kids to do chores and homework, practice their instruments, or even go outside to play can be daunting!
Do you know what the great thing about technology is? You can turn it off. Whatever the device, it can be powered off. Until the children develop enough sense to self-regulate, they need supervision. The adults need to demonstrate good judgment to help children use their time wisely and not allow technology to become the babysitter or later -- the MASTER.
I am an advocate for giving children the gift of some unstructured time away from technology so that they can use their imaginations to invent their own amusements. That is child’s work – the business of learning to structure their own time, make their own discoveries, and become their own masters.
And as you encourage your children to discover their interests, I hope you will give them opportunities to discover their talents. Encourage them to learn an instrument, join the choir at school or church, take dance lessons, audition for a play, take art classes – CREATE, IMAGINE, EXPLORE. There really is no better feeling than the satisfaction of being able to use your talents for good.
Basically all it takes is TIME. And when technology is powered off, all that is left is TIME.