Lost in Hand-Helds….

I have been thinking about the culture of hand held and not so hand held devices.

An advertisement at the cinema caught my eye this week,  It was for a new, interactive, game.

The commercial took place on the ski slopes of somewhere and there was a Mum and two children sitting beside a brazier, wrapped in their gear to keep warm, beautiful scenery all around them, hand held devices in their hands.

Mum says,

“Ready, set, go!”

and the three of them look down at the game on their screens and begin playing.

Wow!

Now I know you can’t look at the outdoors forever…

And it was probably the end of a very busy day of ski-ing,

But even if the weather was inclement my vote says, family vacation means real interaction, not virtual.

How about cards in front of a fire?

A board game around the coffee table?

A word game slouched in comfy chairs?

What about a conversation?

The asking of BIG questions?

Telling family stories?

Laughing together at silly jokes?

How about making eye-contact, nudging one another, holding hands that aren’t wrapped around the latest digital craze?

Gaming has become so popular among the young people that I think their childhood is being stolen.

And it’s not because I’m old…

A seventh grader told me she was writing a persuasive essay about the banning of digital games for children under the age of fourteen,

“I go over to my younger cousin’s house,” she explained, “and all she wants to do is have me watch her play a new game on her tablet.”  She looked at me.  “It’s boring for me,” I nod in agreement, “why can’t we go outside, throw a ball, maybe swim, play make-believe, find dragons in the clouds…?”

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“How old is your cousin?” I asked.

“Seven,” she told me.

What was I doing at that age with my imaginative younger brother?

We were throwing the ball outside, practicing silly circus acts to put on a show for our parents, setting up a vegetable stall at our make believe market in our grandparents’ garden, riding the wild-wild west in our play room, picking blackberries along the lanes, spotting nests in the winter bare trees, 

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feeding the ducks with my grandmother, rolling down grassy slopes until at last, hot and breathless, we’d race to the ice cream van for a small 99!

And so the list goes on…

Sadly today, as one of my students noticed, hand held devices are steadily nudging out family activities.

For me looking at a screen all day makes me feel blinkered, as if I’m missing life as it swirls around me un-noticed.

For the modern child who has grown up with Mum’s phone as a babysitter she may feel her horizons are broadened as her fingers do the talking.

Last week I was monitoring a quiz, it was open book and the students were allowed to pair up so the room hummed with quiet whispers.

When they had all finished my instructions indicated that they could get on their phones.

Silence fell for the last twenty minutes as the students bowed over their Apples and androids as if in prayer.

Nearing bell time I said,

“No wonder parents use phones as baby-sitters, all of you are so quiet…”

No-one looked up,

No-one had heard me, they were lost in their hand-helds.

No longer does the bell have to be heard above the noise of the playground,

Or interrupt the conscientious discussion of a lesson,

It also needs to permeate the silence brought on by the absolute attention given to a screen that fits in the palm of the hand.

The kind of rapt attention every teacher craves!

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1 Comments

ElRay

2018-05-04 16:08:44 Reply

Yes, so very sad and true. Where is their own creativity going to come from if they rely on someone else technology to entertain them. There is a real and sad disconnect!

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