A column about history, culture, policy, and things in between.
More and more evidence is pouring in from the realm of childhood psychology that our kids are over connected to technology and over scheduled in terms of activiites.
This dependence on gadgetry (many psychologists are openly using the term addicition) is inexorably stealing our kids' ability to entertain themselves, and worse, leaving them disdainful of such traditional and "non-stimulating" activities like reading, legos, puzzles, board and card games, or just plain talking about what's on their minds. These more "mundane" passtimes involve social interaction and critical thinking skills - fundamental building blocks for their social and intellectual development and emergence into adolesence. I find it no coincidence that more and more kids seem less and less interested in serious engagement with their immediate social environment. I also find it no coincidence that our technology crazy age has coincided with record levels of childhood obesity, and a rash of emotional/psychological disorders. I don't suggest technology is the ONLY, or even the PRIMARY cause of these problems. But I sincerely believe it to be one of the causes.
I see it all the time - kids in cars, at malls, at games, or in church - connected to a device as if it were some sort of animated electronic appendage. While using them they are typically oblivious to people and happenings around them, caring only for the center of the universe that is the screen or monitor on their "game". Our technology and its unprecedented portability is re-writing the way our kids spend their time, and is something we need to take a hard look at.
As far as activities are concerned, in our rush to make sure our kids don't miss out on anything, we are scheduling their lives to unprecedented levels, leaving inadequate "down-time" opportunities to relax, play, read a good book, spend time in nature, or strike up conversations about whatever might be on their minds or hearts.
Technology is neither "good nor bad". It is morally neutral, and like our automobiles, a legitimate tool that enriches our lives. But the amount of time our kids spend using it, and the extent to which that use drives other activiites out of their lives, is a huge issue.
This generation of kids will be more technology-wise than I ever thought about being. But as the sprint down the Internet Interstate unfolds, let's be sure we are counting the cost of such electronic races.