What the heck??? Have I lost them?
More often than not lately I look up to find my children glued to some small rectangular device. Have I lost them? When did I lose them? What the heck???
When I was growing up my parents would not have a television in the house. I'm the oldest of thirteen children and that adds up to a lot of empty, non-entertainment filled hours. Miraculously, somehow, we managed to fill our days with activity. We drew, read books, listened to music, studied, wrote music, wrote books, made up games, tormented each other, played with each other, talked, laughed, travelled... you name it. I don't remember being bored. Funny thing is, I am still not bored. Ever.
I, like my parents, believe children should be challenged to think. They should easily become adept at thinking of multiple options around a problem. They need to experience life in the form of play, family/friend interactions, and through a well rounded education. Children that are younger than twelve should be touching everything, asking 'why' a million times, absorbing life like sponges. After twelve we should remain inquisitive, engaged, and motivated through the habits we learned in early childhood. I am concerned when I see the amount of time my six year old spends on her small glass screens. She should be moving, thinking, (and yes) making messes. The time she spends in unguided play will teach her fundamental life skills; the ability to assess risk, the tools to negotiate frustration (lack of inspiration or other mental blocking), and basic problem solving in general. She can't learn those things through virtual living on a tiny handheld electronic.
My children don't need much. I'm an 'old mom' and I have many years of trial and error under my belt. Beyond providing the basic physical necessities, love, boundaries, and a little encouragement might be the very best environment for a healthy engaged childhood. If children are not allowed moments of boredom where will they fit in daydreams and visions, manageable moments of melancholy that they must learn to direct and use, points of inner reflection? Are we raising a generation of humans that are entirely incapable of mentally handling 'down time'? Don't misunderstand me. I am not asking that we, as parents, take on more. I am saying that we, as parents need to hold ourselves back and give less, for the mental health of our children... give differently.