I just had a food for thought moment. I know I've talked about devices and how much is too much for our children, but I can't help but continue to think about how we can make sure to offer that balance to our children today..
When I was a kid and I would spend many afternoons at my grandmothers house, while my parents went to work, I had to find a way to entertain myself. It wasn't easy, but eventually it helped me to find out what I'm good at, what I enjoy, and what I would like to master someday. If I had a device such as a smart phone or tablet, would that have taken precious time away from me making my own personal discoveries about myself?
My grandmother owned an old black and white television set. There were only 6 working channels. There was no Disney channel. There was no MTV. There was definitely no binge watching of anything. I didn't have a smart phone to snap chat the boredom away either. It was just me, my grandmother who pretty much kept silently to herself, and an upright piano and a black and white TV. Do you see where I'm going with this? While in the early minutes of my arrival, when I would need to get settled in and except that I was going to be there for the rest of the day, I took a moment and allowed my imagination to come into full bloom.
It first started with me playing with my toys and exploring with dolls and fashion that I would spread out all over her sofa in the living room. Sometimes I would bang away on her piano. I would always ask permission and as soon as I sat down and cracked my knuckles ready to hit those black and white ivories, my grandmother would disappear into the kitchen and I was left to create masterpieces, as loud as I wanted, without any formal training what so ever. Then, I moved on to reading books my mother forced me to read and found out they were actually really good. When ever I watched movies that really peaked my interest, the story and images would stay fresh in my mind, leaving me to ponder over characters and alternate endings. And then it happened, I asked, what if I wrote my own stories? It didn't take long before I purchased my first composition notebook for .75 cents and started writing my own stories.
Short stories, plays, what ever I wanted, I was in charge. As I got older and started spending less time at my grandmothers because my mother no longer needed her to watch me, I started showing up at her door asking if I could hang out for a bit. She still kept to herself, I suppose that was the artist in her that enjoyed her solitude and perhaps her imagination was churning in her own head but either way, she didn't mind me being there with my head buried in a new composition notebook writing away while listening to my Walkman, (yes, I said Walkman). I also taught myself how to draw, to sew and do many other things in those times of insane boredom.
Looking back, sometimes, I felt like I wish I had more of an exciting time but now I realize that was me becoming me. I think about our children and I wonder if we are giving them enough of that balance. What talents would I not have, had I been glued to some screen that really does not offer the opportunity for me to search and dig until I find what's right for me. I watch my son and how he uses the internet to learn things like playing the ukulele or discover information about what ever questions he may have. It can be an amazing tool but there is something to be said about just sitting in silence and digging deep within your soul to fulfill a need to be entertained or maybe even just content.
I know kids today have other activities going on just as they did yesteryear, but those moments they spend on their devices, does that take away from them having to deal with learning how to be bored, overcome that, and then discover parts of themselves they never even knew existed? I'm not saying that kids can't find their inner voices anymore or do amazing things for that matter, perhaps it just may be done in a different way, I just wonder, if some are not forced to have those moments, what will become of them? Will they find those secret treasures hiding right inside of them or will those things that make us quirky individuals fall to the side and lose the battle to the blue light that holds their gaze forever?