Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Living Out of an Age

I'm quite convinced that every generation of parents looks at the gauntlets their children face and think, "Man, I'm glad I didn't have to deal with that." 

Recently, there have been a spate of articles about the link between staying online and mental disorders including depression.   It makes sense. 

Reading about the study and knowing of the tendency to search with ever increasing dissatisfaction for the next "hit" so to speak of news, of humor, of sweetness and light and having to journey ever farther in between successes but searching with hyper vigilance for lost hours, I am reminded of the quote of Gollum about himself when possessed by the ring. 

"And we wept, Precious, we wept to be so alone. And we only wish to catch fish so juicy sweet. And we forgot the taste of bread... the sound of trees... the softness of the wind. We even forgot our own name. My Precious."

And I see that my children will have to cope with televisions and phones and computers everywhere, always, with no time where they cannot be reached, or select the people they wish to interact with, and avoid all else.   I see the ubiquitous overload of access to pornography, the endless capacity for perpetual stimulation with 24-7 cartoons, political diatribes, stupidity, drivel and all the noise noise noise noise noise and wonder, how will they run through this with the cannons to the left of them and cannons to the right? How do we seize back time in the age of the instant, when twitter rules our attention span?   

Yes I know there's an off button and we unplug the Internet every night.   But it's a culture that we are having to both adapt to, and learn how to swim upstream from, and that requires a lot of will.   Our world is supersaturated with the icons of technology. My 18 month old can operate the Ipad and she tries very hard to use the phone, the remotes and the computer. We have kindle and Wii and one daughter bought her own Xbox with her own money.  We have four computers when my son is home. 
Everyone knows the advice to set limits and explain the consequences, but the way of things often circumvents the practice of said limits, like the one hour screen time rule that gets trumped by an assignment requiring online assistance.  Today it is 106 degrees.  Inside is better, more comfortable, even beckoning.  It is so easy to practice vigilant sloth.  It's like turning on the TV rather than parenting.  Five minutes becomes an hour, becomes longer.   Because it's easy to drift with the current of cable.

So I'm trying to live outside of the age today.  I gave them markers and paper, and the baby, a huge cardboard box.   It's rather like exercise. I expect them to hate it at first.  But I'm betting they'll discover this is a bit more satisfying than a touch screen.  We'll see if I can make real reality trump virtual, even though the real comes with winning and losing, scraped knees and bee stings.  I'm going to start small though, Hey kids...this is a book.  I'm giving them blankets, books and an ice cream...outside. (I said I'd start small. I never said I'd fight fair).

1 comment:

Rose Godfrey said...

My kids discovered two new activities this year. Summer sledding, in which they slide down the levee on cardboard boxes (we never get snow, so this is "the real deal" for them!) and barreling in which they fill a barrel with water and stand in it. They talk, tell jokes, just hang out together. Somehow, standing in a barrel makes all that more interesting. We have a lot of barrels, one for each kid. It sounds so....low tech.....but the kids have so much fun. The shrieks of laughter and squeals of pure delight are contagious.

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