In recent year’s there has been a large emphasis by various sports groups how kids have replaced their former active play time with inactive screen time.
Now kids between the ages of 8-18 spend on average of 7.5 hours in front of a screen based on all the electronic mediums available to them;
- Video Games – Playstation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch
Now the gamers that spend 30+ hours a week playing to hone their craft they have been identified as “athletes”, and live egames events are selling out in minutes so their “fans” can watch them compete against other elite gamers live.
- Streaming – Youtube, Netflix, Crave – not only kids but even is leading to adults binging for HOURS on end watching
How many of you still have analogue cable subscriptions? Many of the former cable providers have switched to network based platforms that will permit all family members to watch TV on all of their portable devices
- Smartphones – The world’s first smartphone is only 10 years old (iPhone) and still continues to be the front runner in terms of market share but with numerous others getting their piece of the pie including Samsung, LG, Huawei
Probably one of my biggest pet peeves when I am privileged to get tickets to go see a live sporting event is watching all the people around me on their phones and totally oblivious to the event itself with exception of taking a selfie so the can post to their various social media platforms. If asked what the score was of the game afterwards I am certain many would not be able to answer.
Over the last few days we hosted both of our respective families for Christmas get togethers, the first was with my wife’s family on Christmas Eve, the second on Christmas Day/Boxing Day my brother’s Brady Bunch.
The first evening my nephews started playing Nintendo Dance but then they played like the kids they are, they played hide and seek for over an hour, pulled out some of my son’s old toys and pretended they were pirates, cowboys and ran amuck thru the house for better part of the evening pre and post dinner. Even some of the adults (myself included) got involved as the good or bad guys in their various games they played.
It was refreshing to see that kids still could be kids without an electronic device in their baggy jeans or sweatpants pockets with earbuds in their ears.
The second evening was a complete reversal, my brother and his significant other are both divorced with 3 children each (6 total) so we have nicknamed them the Brady bunch. Their ages range from 7 to 15 and all but the 7 year old brought their latest and greatest electronic device ranging from iPods to iPhones, tablets and even mini robots controlled by their devices.
Although I was impressed with the technology in part, I was not impressed with how many times had to tell them to unplug. My 11 year niece’s biological father got her an iPhone for Christmas (which my brother and I felt was too early but that is another story in itself) and she would not unplug at all for the 24 hours they were with us (they all slept over). At first my brother defended it, then the following day he too got frustrated and as 4 of the kids were sitting on the couch as they were getting ready to have breakfast had to scream TURN OFF YOUR SMARTPHONES! and come and eat.
A couple said, “just a minute” and thought he was going to blow a gasket much like I had the prior evening, although they live in the Vancouver area, we only see each other a few times a year due to all of our hectic schedules and get togethers should be just that, an opportunity to share how we are all doing and what plans we have for the year to come.
The one solace for me and him was I had spent the morning cleaning up our garage and getting our pool table ready and pulling out all of our various board games for an evening of good old play without being plugged in. Once the garage warmed up to a point we could all tolerate it (the only place our house could accommodate a pool table) a handful went and played pool, while others pulled out various board games including the older “kids” for a spirited game of Risk (including yours truly).
After the young ones crashed in various parts of the house, the adults took their favorite beverages to the garage and played pool until the wee hours of the AM, improvising as the tips of the longer cues had been broken off.
Good times were had by all, some of the kids returned back to the garage for more pool, while others “regressed” to their electronics to get their dopamine fixes on snapchat, youtube, instagram and texting but at least they had a few hours hiatus the prior evening.
The message I want to share with all parents and coaches, is somehow/someway we need to get kids off their devices for 60 minutes a day so they can be active again. Run around and play hide and seek, get out the pool cues, bubble hockey, ping pong paddles, bikes, bats, footballs, soccer balls, basketballs, board games, pillow fights or whatever is lying around and just play. Play without the immediate supervision of the adults so it is safe for them to fail again.
One of the biggest reasons that video games have become the go to for kids is it is safe to fail, there are no adults telling them what to do, criticizing their mistakes and when they “lose” they merely press the reset the button and play again.
When I was getting grumpy about the electronics, my brother reminded me about the time I got my Atari console with one game, Asteroids, and how much I played initially (on a black and white 12” TV) until the novelty wore off. He said the same would hold true with all the electronics kids were on today but will it? Or will it continue to get worse?
The only way I believe that it will is parents have to start saying NO. We must create the environment at home that limits their electronics use just as the greatest creator in our households today EVER did;
“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. [Steve] Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
(Nytimes article, Sept. 10, 2014)”
― Nick Bilton
If Steve Jobs limited the time that his kids used electronics at home, I think we could all learn a valuable lesson to do the same.
I think the holidays should also be an opportunity for families, friends to get together, talk, eat and be merry without the distractions of various electronics. Sit in front of the fireplace or at the dinner table, in the kitchen and share stories, talk about the past, the present and what we all aspire will be the future.
Below is a great video clip from Canada’s largest retailer, Loblaws, and the campaign they rolled out to coincide with Canada’s 150th anniversary “Let’s Eat Together”
Notice how many of the adults were glued to their smartphones, tablets and screens at the beginning and as they all headed into their apartments?
Kudo’s to the mother who took initiative to invite others to have dinner unplugged, although the lone nut with her daughter being the first follower others joined for a festive holiday meal, conversation and laughter without all of our various electronic appendages, something that seems more the exception than the norm today (when was the last time you went to a restaurant for a meal and people kept their phones in their pockets?)
As we go into 2018, adults, set the example for your kids, spend time off your devices and spend more time with them playing unplugged.
The starting point, have a rule at your dinner table to TURN OFF YOUR SMARTPHONES and share your day with you kids and let them do the same with you.
Then create the environment inside and outside your home so they are motivated to play so they get their minimum 60 minutes of activity a day and are active for life. We never will get back to the good old days where kids played for hours on end, but we MUST find the happy medium so they get their minimal physical activity requirements daily.
Let’s work together to bring the game back to the kids … where it belongs.