As a child my mum would always say to stop watching the television as I would end up with square eyes. Although I doubt whether my eyes would have changed shape, perhaps my mum was on to something??? More so now, the technology age, it is important to ask ourselves how much screen time is too much? Not just for our kids but for adults also. Often people discuss the implications on attention in regards to screen time but today I am going to discuss the implications on creativity.
Televisions, smart phones, tablets and DVD players in the car, the availability of technology is never ending. But how much is it impacting on us? The other day, I was at the doctors sitting in the waiting room, and straight away I found myself taking my phone out of my pocket to scroll through emails, photos and text messages. It has become habit to pick up my phone instead of picking up a magazine, reading a newspaper article, talking to the person next to me or simply sitting in the chair and day dreaming. I had recently watched a program on the ABC, Life at 9, where they discussed the importance of children knowing how to be bored. They made the point that with readily available technology children are losing the ability to be bored. So why does that matter? Boredom is important as it encourages imagination and promotes creativity, all of which are important skills not only for school but for life. If children aren’t able to imagine and create, how will they complete written expression tasks, how will they visualise the latest story they read? As they grow, how will they become an individual and separate themselves from the pack when searching for jobs???
As a child I can remember sitting in the waiting room at the doctors and creating houses out of books, making trains from the blocks and also making my own movies in my head. I can remember the endless road trips where I was wedged between my brothers with nothing more than the surrounding landscape to entertain us (that and my parents’ choice of music). I don’t know if my parents somehow knew, but these experiences helped my brain learn how to generate individual thought, to be creative and to think for myself.
Though unfortunately now as an adult I find myself giving in to the technology around me, and I am someone who grew up with minimal exposure to technology, how is this new generation supposed to resist it? How will they generate their own imagination and creativity?
Since seeing this program and watching how boredom is actually important I have made a conscious effort to leave my phone at home. I have also found as a therapist I am using less technology recently in therapy and pleasingly I am seeing my clients really engage in play – they too like making houses with books.
Don’t get me wrong, technology is great, it has allowed us to be connected with people all over the world, it allows for a new and interesting way to teach. But I think it is also important that we think about the consequence of too much screen time, it might not be square eyes, but instead a loss of creativity in ourselves and our kids.