The blue hue of the screen lent my kids’ faces an eery glow. Eyes widened, mouths slightly ajar, they looked as if they were frozen in time.
Digital devices can do that. They not only freeze time, they eat it up, skewing our perception of how long we actually spend time with them.
Son shouts from his desk.
“I’ve only been on my laptop for a few minutes!” The rings under his eyes tell me something different.
“How much more time do you want to spend on it?” I ask.
“I don’t know.”
“Okay. ‘I don’t know’ tells me you want to turn it off now. So that’s what we’re going to do.”
You’d think I cut off his oxygen supply from the Space Shuttle as he floats weightlessly through cyberspace. But a few minutes of stretching and walking around the apartment bring him back to life. Real life. The one without a mouse, sound card or clickable links.
Living in Freiburg where the sun shines virtually every day, it is hard to argue with my kid to go outside “on a day like this.”
“Mom, every day is like this,” he mumbles, flicking off another video game soldier from the battlefield that is his screen. He says it with a mix of pride and practiced boredom. He is twelve, after all.
Or my teenage daughter, who visited last weekend. She wanted to chill out. So she grabbed her laptop and watched YouTube video games for the final two hours of her visit.
“You don’t want to bond, play Scrabble and talk about boys?” I asked with a furrowed brow.
“Mom? Can you just — leave?”
At one point I gave in and watched my own livestreamed show on my laptop in my room.
Where are our lives going with all this disconnection?
Like most people, I love the Internet. It actually saved my life by connecting me with people and events that made my world a better place. But too much of a good thing is, well, too much. And I worry that our children will never learn how to maintain eye contact, speak a full sentence or hold a pencil with one hand.
Do I sound dramatic? Well, maybe I do. Some days it feels like an uphill battle, working against an unstoppable stream of information that competes with my children’s attention. All day. Every day. And sometimes into the night.
It’s a brave new world. One in which three-year-olds are encouraged to hone their computer skills. Call me old-fashioned, but I thought learning how to ride a bike would come first.
Slow Childhood ~are you a thing of the past?