No Gadgets (Part 1)
I will celebrate if all you remember from this seminar is this: No gadgets for kids who could not yet read.
This was to encourage the parents of millennials and Gen Z (in Cagayan de Oro, an hour flight away from home) in the audience to read books to their young children, so they will learn to love reading and prefer books over gadgets when they are ready to read the printed page.
According to child development experts, kids who are reared on handheld gadgets are passive participants—being fed with other people's ideas. But children who read books enter a world of creativity, unbounded by time and space. The phrase “critical thinking skills” required of adults is really about imagination, developed at an early age through reading.
Like a mean joke, this scenario met me on my flight home. My seatmates were a young tot and his smartly dressed mom. As soon as she strapped her kid to his seat, she gave him a smart phone.
Then she got busy with her own. Despite the repeated announcement for passengers to turn off all electronics, mother and son kept at theirs, raptly immersed in their own cyber world.
The boy squeaked, "Awk!" (He still could not talk and had his feeding bottle beside him).
His mother immediately replied, knowing exactly what he wanted, "No internet, son, so no You Tube."
I was devastated, remembering the just-concluded successful seminar.
When the mother looked up from her gadget, I chirped with the friendliest voice I could muster, "He's so young and already he could manipulate a phone so deftly."
Proudly she replied, "Oh, yes, we started him on it before he turned two. Children are different these days!"
These days, gadgets are the new yaya (baby sitter). They could do what a human being could never manage: make even the brattiest of kids sit still. It’s a pacifier, stopping kids from whining or acting up.
Research results on how gadgets have affected kids are alarming: they have changed the stages of natural growing-up; they have replaced toys, playgrounds, storybooks, exercises, and communication.
Here are some specific dangers (abridged from various findings) among children:
Drastic Brain Development - The brain’s size triples at toddler stage and develops until a child’s adult years. Gadgets may negatively interfere with this natural growth.
Obesity - Kids inertly playing with gadgets don’t burn calories, which may lead to obesity that could cause complications such as diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.
Grace deprivation - God’s grace is in the little and big things that are strewn in a myriad of places and people which must touch a kid’s life. Gadgets limit his time and space, depriving him of this wondrous gift from above.
To be continued . . .