LifeTech & The Web

Are Today’s Kids Victims of Too Much Tech?

Nature Valley introduced a video contrasting children of today with those of yesterday, demonstrating there’s too much tech in the hands of young people.

If you’re of a certain age — and the majority of this blog’s readers are of that certain age, your childhood wasn’t distracted by cell phones, tablets and video games. Maybe that makes us the lucky ones.

Sure, we didn’t have that convenient handheld technology that puts the whole world’s knowledge at our fingertips and entertains us for hours on end, forcing us to completely lose track of the time. But we actually went outside, rode bicycles, walked, played sports and even carried on real conversations face to face with our friends.

Nature Valley produced a video with interviews of children, parents and grandparents and asked a simple question: what’s your favorite childhood passtime?

The elder two generations share memories of blueberry picking, sledding, fishing trips, and playing baseball as airy music plays in the background. But when the same question went to the kids, the answers, predictably, were very different:

“My favorite thing to do in the world is definitely watching videos and playing video games. Those take up so much of my time,” one child says.

Others say they spend hours — three, four or five (and likely more) — glued to their devices.

“I would die if I don’t have my tablet,” one little girl says.

“I actually feel a little sad because I feel he’s missing out on what’s out there in the beautiful world,” one of the adults says. The same woman is seen wiping her eyes while watching the children’s interview clips.

Just last month, Georgia-Pacific’s Dixie brand urged people to “Go Dark for Dinner,” by turning off all devices during the dinner hour.

A survey commissioned by Dixie found that consumers eat dinner as a family without distractions less than twice a month—and only two out of every 10 respondents said they do it at all.

Of course, Dixie argued that if people used their disposable products, they might feel less pressure to clean all those dishes and might therefore be willing to “linger” at the dinner table that much longer for real conversation.

But shouldn’t “going dark” be the norm for every meal?

When I was a kid, my parents always demanded I have dinner at the dining room table, and the television in the living room was always off. Today, they know that a good part of my job depends on the internet and staying connected. But even so, I don’t check my email during a meal today. (If I’d had a smartphone when I was a kid, it wouldn’t have even been an option.)

But I wonder if parents have gotten a bit too permissive these days when it comes to kids and their tech. After all, they should be the ones laying down the law when it comes to media consumption. I also have to wonder whether parents feel their kids are “safer” inside their home, even if staring at a screen for hours on end, than they might be if they went out and played in the world in which we live. That may well play a part in this.

Have you ever tried “going dark for dinner” in your family? What was the reaction? Do you set any kind of “time allowance” for your kids’ device usage?

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.