There is a TV commercial airing that shows a mini-van with Mom driving, Dad says "have a good trip," from a hands free phone, and the kids are each watching a movie on separate monitors located in the back of the seat. Wow...the technological, geek side of me thinks, "how cool is that." Then, I started to think back about the long drives that I went on growing up in the 50's and 60's. I remember looking out the window, watching the countryside, and making up stories about dragons flying, battles in farm fields, flying saucers, etc. The setting was an excellent opportunity to foster and develop my imagination and creativity.
Researchers in child development are discovering more and more that TV viewing for children needs to be limited. The author, Alison Astair, MSW, writes in her article labeled, "Zombie Children"--"Have you ever watched your children watching TV? They sit in front of the television with their bodies rigid and their eyes glued to the program. You call their name. No Answer! You walk into the room and they don't even notice. With a closer look, you notice a glazed express in their eyes. That glazed look is doe to a 'flicker' that puts them in what looks like a hypnotic trance."
Sure I grew up with TV, that by the way only had 3 channels, and I know I parked myself in front of it on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons. The difference is that when I turned it off, I didn't have the internet to surf, an ipod to plug into, a gameboy , or an Xbox to play with. There are so many technological distractions that vie for a child's attention that just maybe they are also inhibiting or eroding a child's development of imagination. Parents, now more than ever, need to sit down and read to their children, create car games (I hope the license plate game is still played!), praise a child's drawing, and overall...be apart of a child's play time, encouraging their imagination.
I firmly believe that all these technologyical gadgets are wonderful and for the most part enrich our lives. The new ebook readers are fantastic and there are indications that people may be reading more. However, there is a point where the electronic device is counter-productive or there's a "double edge" to them. Take for example, cell phones...they are an obsession or "security blanket" for young adults. Used in a car, they can save lives as well as kill. For some reason, people feel compelled to answer the phone...like there's a commandment that states,"Thou shall answer all phones no matter where you are." and people feel it's their god given right to share their conversation with everyone else. Before cell phones, we all did just fine...and I am sure most high school teachers would agree whole heartedly!
I am so thankful I love to read. While reading an author's descriptions along with my mind's eye, I create the settings and the characters in my head that allow me to escape. I am thankful for those long drives looking out the window and using my imagination to create imaginary worlds. I know they nurtured my imagination. So maybe you don't need a DVD player and screen in that new mini-van...keep the cost savings and buy your child more fun car games, books, and puzzles.