AS A KID, I would lose track of time with uncanny ease. Hours passed with little concern or notice. Nothing mattered as much as the moment, then and there. Once my cousin and I convinced each other - to the point of near fanatical faith - that the spaceship we constructed mostly of cardboard could, in fact, leave the ground. Our hearts took flight first, fizzing with adrenaline and expectation. We would be the first flying boys. Our valiant attempt derailed with a lack of certain supplies, namely a propulsive force to lift us from our immediate terrestrial circumstance. But we gave it a good go. Endeavors of this sort marked me as a kid with an imagination as alive as ambitious.
Ninjutsu vanishing technique. Check. Professional skater. Check. Suburban soldier of fortune. Check. Illusionist. Check. Scientist. Check. Check. Explorer. Of course, check.
I grew up with a tangible sense of wonder that shaped the experiences of my childhood. Those memories I won’t soon forget. That seems like historic past tucked in a forever ago place in my heart labeled, ‘kid stuff’. As a parent, I love to inspire adventure and imagination in my own kids’ hearts, to see discovery light their eyes and wonder-filled activity unscripted appear in their day. This is the when and the how a child begins to find themselves and be found by passions and callings - where the heart beats real and blood carries life and meaning.
Technology is wonder of a different kind. It’s a sort of shared wonder, not discovered, but created and refined by the genius of another at the fingertips of all those who use it. The widespread usage and availability of technology carries opportunity and hope to many in remote, undeveloped parts of the globe in the form of accessibility of knowledge, but also ushers in a growing dullness in humanity where technology exists in abundance as a means to even more consumption. Technology is not evil, but the attention given to it can be.
We’ve made an attempt to limit screen time under our roof - a lazy redirect to disconnect from an electronic device to do something creative instead. Only in recent days have my wife and I decided to up our game and limit technology in our household even more in response to the changes we both recognized in our daughters’ behaviors and moods. We found them to be more irritable, detached, unmotivated, sluggish and passionless, the more they were allowed to use technology, as opposed to times when technology was scarcely used. Technology over use dulls the soul with an empty exchange where the user learns to accept and take rather than give and discover. For a child, in particular, technology can hinder development necessary for growth and maturity in areas such as compassion, empathy, conversation, creativity, to name a crucial few.
We are certainly nowhere near anti-tech, but realize that technology is quite simply a means to discovery and not an end point for consumption only. I want our kids to love well, appropriate value wisely, speak intelligently, experience life in real day and pursue creativity that is not only self-expressive but giving to others in real capacity. For this to be a formational value in our family, the allure of technology as status and gratification must die so that in its place our children can truly thrive.
And this is why our daughters know they won't own a mobile device for years to come. There's simply too much for them to experience and too many memories to make along the way. Technology has its place behind everything else far more important - the stuff that really matters in life.
(image: "iPhone Bokeh" by Dominque, licensed by CC2.o)