I am hearing more and more in the news about limiting screen time for children. We are an electronic society now, no doubt about it, and the younger generations will suffer for it.
Electronics has its place, don’t get me wrong. Technology, when used properly, is helpful but clear boundaries need to be set. Back in the day when I was growing up television was relatively new and had its requisite warnings, too. Nothing much has changed in that respect. Staring at the screen too long or sitting too close would damage our eyes, they said, whoever ‘they’ are. Then along came video games, and again the warnings to limit time spent in the animated, surreal worlds. Today extended screen time warnings are related to its negative effect on brain development, specifically, creativity.
We are sentient beings; souls living in a body having a life experience. We are meant to receive information from all of our senses so that we can understand our world and make sense of it. Watching information move across a screen does not engage our senses in any meaningful way. Interactions are limited to pushing buttons; the senses are not fully engaged. The brain isn’t challenged and becomes more spectator than participant. Creativity is not stimulated.
Recently, I cared for our eight-month-old grandbaby while his parents were on vacation. Of course, his modern parents brought with him all the latest electronic toys. He would push the buttons, listen to the sounds of the animals on his electronic book, put the toys in his mouth, throw them, but they didn’t hold his interest very long. Out came the ‘toys’ of yesteryear; measuring cups, a pan, and a spoon. He banged the pan and the floor with the spoon, shook the measuring cup set, and puzzled and puzzled until he was able to separate the cups from their plastic ring. Fortunately, he did have a plush barn toy with farm animals inside. We opened the roof of the barn and he was able to pick out the animals, one by one. As he picked up each animal his little hands worked to explore the plushy softness. And, the animals ‘talked’; the cow mooed, the chicken clucked, and the pig squealed. I imitated the animal sounds and he giggled.
What was the difference between the electronic wonder toys and the simple household items and plush farm animals? The electronic toys and book made the same sounds as the plush farm animals except the farm animals invited him to engage all of his senses in meaningful ways, including interaction with another human. As he grows toys that stimulate and engage his senses will lead to imaginary and creative play.
Will the kids growing up in an electronic world be as creative as generations past? Time will tell. Would the airplane be invented if little boys had not fashioned paper into shapes that caught the air, or studied the birds and imaged what it would be like to fly? The first computers likely began with children taking apart and putting radios back together, their minds creatively constructing greater complexities that have led to the surgical robotics and artificial intelligence of the modern world. The common denominator of the airplane and computer technologies of today is creativity; creativity dependent upon engaging all of our God-given senses.
Three-dimensional technology may exist within the electronic world, but it cannot replace God’s three-dimensional world. God’s created world is meant to help us learn and grow through interaction with the creation…..