I recently came across and article in the New York Times that reveals a marked shift in attitude by affluent parents: they don’t want their children having too much computer or phone ‘screen time’ too early in life.
You can read the article HERE.
I’m a little flattered and a little irritated when things I’ve been articulating and advocating on this blog for a couple of years finally appear in the mainstream media as some sort of new revelation.
Smart parents don’t want their kids glued to a cell phone screen, a computer screen, or a television screen during their formative years. And I view ‘formative years’ as birth to age 18.
Yes, digital technology is a part of life for most everyone today, but parents still set the boundaries. In doing so, they also set the priorities and values, which include conversation with real people in real time, face to face; reading worthwhile books (the kind with paper pages that you hold in your hands); thinking critically without the undue influence of social media, and–shocker–doing nothing.
I remember an interview years ago with singer/songwriter James Taylor, an Old Money Guy who grew up on the east coast of the US. He waxed nostalgic about his childhood and how it differed from children’s experiences today. He believed much of his creativity was due to the fact that he spent summers doing…nothing.
He went to school, studying for nine months of the year. (And not exactly setting the world on fire at Milton Academy.) And for three months each summer, he loitered (without, apparently, any intent) in Martha’s Vineyard with his family.
Granted, this was a privileged existence, but it points to an important issue: children need time to daydream, to imagine, the let the dust settle on what they’ve learned in school the previous year, and to formulate questions about their world and the assumptions the world makes and accepts as truth.
I support a rigorous curriculum for children in school. I also support periodic gaps in structure, adult supervision, and exposure to media and (dis)information. Young people need time to wonder and wander. It fosters creativity and, I think, balance.
After you have a chance to read the New York Times article, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.