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Technology and the Young Child's Brain - Part II

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A group of parent I know were discussing children and technology use when one woman pointed out that people " think that if their kid doesn’t use devices they may be missing out on something." This prompted another parent to comment that perhaps we need a different approach entirely as " that argument fails to question sufficiently the merits of having one's child right up to speed with all the other racers." 

This statement gave me chills. It made me realize that not only are early-introduced-to-technology children not able to develop their own internal images; all of us using electronic screens are receiving the exact same images! What will this do to creativity and individuality in the long term?

In the early 1960s Malvina Reynolds wrote the song 'Little Boxes', sung by Pete Seeger. It became an instant hit. Have you heard it? The song is a satire on the development of suburbia and the conformist middle class. The beginning lyrics go:

"Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
... And they all look just the same."

Now the song means something different to me. The understanding that we are all being feed the same images by passive engagement story telling makes me think that those little boxes of ticky tacky can easily refer to the boxes of our minds and our identity. In seven generations will there even be individuality or will we all look just the same?

Once a child is introduced to technology we can't un-introduce them. Best delay it as long as possible. We need to support each other with being skillful in finding alternative ways for our children to be engaged while we look after the other daily demands on our time.  By the time I had my third child I understood the rhythm of children better than when I was a new parent. Often they need frequent attention but in small bursts. I rearranged our furniture so the L had a play space near my work stations. She could amuse herself and I was immediately available if she wanted to connect. The fact that we were in sight of each other helped a lot.

Some methods I found useful for us being together while I worked included:

playing audio books for her (no earbuds or headphones please) while she engaged in other activities such as

¨      putting her toys back on the shelf so she could take them all down again

¨      placing a large bowl filled with water and floating things on a towel on the floor or have her standing on a chair at the sink

¨      giving her a small white board and dry erase markers

Admittedly it is hard to always know the right thing to do however any small steps we can take to stimulate imagination and creativity will be well worth the effort.

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Juanita lives in the Canadian Rockies and has been a mother for nearly forty years. She has three children with a 22 year age spread between the oldest and the youngest. During this time Juanita has also worked with youth in a variety of capacities including as a rehabilitation worker in the public school system and as program director and facilitator for a local youth group centre.

Magic and mysteries have been a life-long pre-occupation of Juanita's and she has published one book Almanac of the Infamous on the unexplained and unsolved. She also is known for her mystery entertainment parties (mysteryfactory.com) for children and grown-ups. Staying in touch with a playful spirit and miraculous possibility is something that she feels is vital to passing on to our children and retaining as adults.


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Guest Monday, 11 December 2017