If I had a dollar for every time somebody told me they got a new iPad or iPod or iPhone or Kindle for Christmas, I’d have a pretty good wad of cash right about now! It certainly was a ‘techy-kind-of-Christmas’ for many. I marvel at how times have changed since I was a kid.
When I was 7, I got a stuffed kitten and a Barbie doll. Wow. Now I see 3rd graders playing with their iPod Touches and Nintendo DSis. I understand the fascination with all of these new gadgets and gizmos…and the fun that kids (and adults!) have with them…but I also wonder if it’s a good thing? And this is why….
We were driving up to visit my parents for Christmas which, mind you, is only an HOUR drive from our house. We told our kids that maybe this time we could do without the DVD players, the video games, and the mp3 players on the way. Immediately my 7-year-old protests, “But what will we DO?! I’ll be SO BORED!!” Sometimes, I think it’s easier for us parents to give into these protests so we don’t have to listen to the whining and complaining the whole trip. Ahhh…how nice an hour of peace-and-quiet would be! You mean, I could actually have a conversation with my husband?! And I could actually listen to whatever I want to on the radio?! Woo-hoo, give them the iPads! I’m in! But really,….is that the best thing to do? We explained to our kids how ‘back in the day’ (which I’m sure no kid ever wants to hear from their parents, but tough luck..), we didn’t have DVD players, or iPods/Pads….we read books, we talked to each other, we looked out the window, we played the ABC or license-plate game, or we just took a nap. Or, as my husband told them, “We just stared at the sun until our eyes would bleed!!” (well, not quite…but you get the idea).
The next scenario that made me re-think all these techy gifts was while at my in-laws’ house on Christmas Day. I took a look around the living room and noticed that 4 of the 9 kids were either playing on their Nintendo DSis or Amazon Kindle Fires. Not talking to each other…just burying their faces in these games. Finally, enough was enough! I made my kids put the electronics away for awhile and find something else to play. I was so happy to see my daughter break out the Twister game and my son recruit his older cousin to play a Monopoly board game. And they played Monopoly for almost 4 hours. FINALLY! They DO remember how to play! Hallelujah!
I have become a little concerned lately that all of these electronics are doing so much of the ‘entertaining’ for our kids that they have forgotten how to entertain themselves! Our kids need to know how to PLAY. We have a closet full of board games and puzzles at our house. But yet, when I tell my kids that they are not allowed to play Wii or Nintendo DSis or any other electronics for the day, well, then they are bored out of their minds. All I hear is “what can we DO?! I’m soooo bored!” Consequently, I point them in the direction of the toy closet or open the door and push them outside! I think kids need more of this. We live in a society that likes to entertain us. Movies, music, video games, new ‘apps’ for our iPhones, etc. I’m not against any of these things…I’m just FOR kids learning how to entertain themselves, too, without the help of an electronic device. And it’s very easy for us adults to enable that addiction to electronics by letting these devices ‘babysit’ our kids. Believe me, it’s easy to do…it keeps them quiet and not fighting with each other! But parents, please do your kids a favor….take away the gadgets and gizmos for a few days and get back to the basics of puzzles, toys, board games, and good ol’ fashioned imaginative PLAY.
Your kids will thank you some day.