Next time you're out at the mall, look around and count the number of children and teenagers under 18 you see using any kind of electronic device. Chances are you'll see schoolagers mindlessly following their parents while playing their handheld video games and teenagers on cell phones or ipods. In coffee shops you'll even see teenagers sitting around a table texting each other rather than talking!
Recent studies have shown that todays kids spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using some sort of electronic device. 7.5 hours! That is frightening to me. With 7 days each week, that means that kids today are spending more time each week "connected" than their parents spend at work! Combine that with kids as young as 8 having cell phones, DVD players in the car, handheld video games, and video games aimed at infants and I have to wonder what we are teaching our children. In my opinion we are creating a generation of kids incapable if entertaining themselves. If you have any doubt, remove all electronic devices for a week and sit back and watch what happens. How long before you hear the dreaded "I'm bored!" I'm betting it wouldn't be long at all. We are creating a generation of kids who no longer have the imagination or drive to spend the day simply playing. Presented with a bucket of inanimate objects for creative play, they look up at you blankly, like what are we supposed to do with this? Gone are the days of cops and robber, or playing pretend. Instead we have the Wii, PSP, iPod, Grand Theft Auto, World or warcraft.
My solution, limit usage. It's a simple as that. An 8 year old does not need a cell phone and while a handheld video game may come in handy from time to time, it should be used sparingly. Don't allow violent video games period (lets face it, what good came come of a youngster playing Grand Theft Auto?) and limit the games you do allow to weekends only. Encourage creative play. Let's allow our kids the freedom to use their imaginations. Give them encouragment and praise and the opportunity to simply play.
It gets harder as the kids get older, but we are their parents. We can say no to the cell phone with data plan. Lets face it do you really want your teenager facebooking and tweeting in English class? We can ensure the computer(s) are in a common area of the house so we can monitor when they are online and where they are going. Insist that their iPod stays at home during the week while they are at school.
It may be tough, but we can wean our kids from their reliance on electronics.