Is Running Around the Lawn Educational?

Erin Patrice O’Brien

Erin Patrice O’Brien

The following article and the video within the article really made me think about our ideas of the traditional childhood and a modern version of childhood.

A very compelling point to me in this article was one specific line:

“Is running around on the lawn educational? Every part of a child’s life can’t be held up to that standard.”

Which to me is something that I never thought about. I would always error on the side that anything that is done NOT in front of a screen was much more valuable when compared to screen time. Asking the question, “Can every part of a child’s life be held up to that standard?” is something I will have to keep in my mind.

I would LOVE to read some of your responses to this article.

The Touch-Screen Generation

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2 thoughts on “Is Running Around the Lawn Educational?

  1. Kristie Jochmann April 11, 2013 at 9:24 pm Reply

    Show me a kid that is more interested in the world, thinks more innovatively, or is happier or more enjoyable to be with after they learn to play video games on an iPad? Can you think of even one? I think if we are honest, any parent who has opened the door to this will say that it sucks their kid in- it becomes the only thing they want to do, it becomes the most coveted “prize” for good behavior and that their kid is harder to connect with.

    If this is such a great 21st century tool, it should be producing kids that are more engaged, more interesting in talking to people, better at asking questions about the world. That is not the case. The true fact, and one that we all should remember, is that there is no more powerful tool for the 21st century than the human brain. And I am quite concerned about how this barrage of stimulation is recircuiting kids brains.

    When we as adults show complete dependence or an overappreciation for technology , we are modeling behavior that speaks much louder to kids than our words. I tell my kids that the only tool you cannot live without is your brain. When we as a school feel a need to connect as many parts of learning as possible to the iPad- that makes the ipad seem like this all powerful learning tool and gives the false and detrimental impression that learning cannot be done without an iPad. I remind my kids that really great inventions happened long before people had ipads. It makes perfect sense to show kids how ipads and technology can be employed to innovate and create solutions that can help the world, but they should always understand that the ipad is nothing more than a tool. Like a hammer it can be used to build a beautiful structure or to bash someone’s skull in. It is your brain, the connections you make, the ideas that you have, that matter. You need to use the ipad to do your bidding and not live to do the ipad’s bidding.

    I think parents are ambivalent because they know the effects are mostly negative, but the ipad does make it so darn easy to reduce the burdens of parenting. When kids are on ipads they do not bug parents. Well, nothing worth doing is easy and parenting falls in that category. It certainly takes more energy to tell your kid to go outside and play or to deal with complaints of being bored or to have an interesting conversation with your kid than it does to just allow them to veg on the ipad. Numbers of my friends say they don’s see kids playing out in the neighborhood anymore and many admit that once a kid gets hooked on video games/ipad play that nothing else seems interesting to them anymore. Bad sign. At sports practice I see kids huddled around ipads, even at Christmas dinners people have decided that ipads are what works to keep their kids quiet. What lessons are kids missing out on by having their noses stuck in ipads for a huge percentage of their free hours? The world is a fascinating place, but ipads provide constant full on stimulation that no world or book can live up to. The real world does not happen in the way it shows on a video game and it is a mistake to get kids minds habituated to that kind of constant input with relatively minimal demands on their output.

    Internet addiction is a documented and accepted medical condition in some Asian countries. We can turn a blind eye and say the cat is out of the bag, but in the end we will all have to answer for what we create. Do you remember when your parents said: “just because Johnny jumps off a bridge, doesn’t mean you should too”. It still applies. Just because everyone is doing it does not mean it has to happen. As a parent we are each responsible for our own kid.

    Regarding the bit on TV, there are tons of studies that correlate television usage with obesity, poor reading skills and a host of other negative outcomes. Again, a reasonable bit from time to time is fine, but even more so than TV, the iPad beckons us in a way that is particularly seductive. I can’t put my finger on it, but I know that even I can be prone to ignore people I actually like or sit at my desk longer than I need to in the grasp of this technology. Moderation is hard to come by even for adults, imagine the pull for kids.

    For my kids, I think it is about opportunity costs- what would they be missing by playing these games? Well they would be missing time outside exploring, time with siblings and family, time exercising and playing sports, time wondering about how things in the world work, time getting bored so that they are actually pushed to come up with some creative idea to “unbore” themselves. That is not a trade I am willing to make. Someone in the article suggested that there is time for it all. I fully disagree. Your kid is already away from home at least 7 hours a day for school. Then there are sports and extracurriculars and homework. Oh and they are supposed to be sleeping about 11 hours a day still- that makes a big difference on mood and ability to learn. There is not much time leftover. Family time is being encroached on and we know that family time matters. When you look at average screen time of children, per the CDC, 6-8 years olds spend 6 hours in front of the screen a day (this is mixed use, tv, computer, videos). Six hours is almost half of what should be a child’s awake time per day. Because of apps and technology, middle and upper SES kids are starting to look a lot more like lower SES kids who have for years had tvs in the bedroom. Maybe it is no surprise that social scientists have found that many of the problems in low SES families have counterparts in high SES families- detached parents, kids who do not feel important to their families, drug/alcohol abuse, depression. One suffers from the neglect of parent’s so ill equipped that they cannot be a constant guiding force, the other suffers from parents so well off they can’t be bothered to do the right thing for their kids.

    Last thing- just because someone says an app is “educational” does not mean it is. People can say whatever they want. In addition to some good offerings we know that many kids prefer to spend time on violent or banal games and that kids lie about how much screen time is spent actually doing homework. Why are they attracted to these things and don’t we have a responsibility as parents to guide them to healthier choices?

    • Tom Mussoline April 11, 2013 at 10:30 pm Reply

      Kristie,
      Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment. I enjoyed reading what you had to say.

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