My kids, like so many these days, are technology addicts. I have woken late on a weekend, thinking my kids are sleeping in as well, when in fact they are engrossed in watching videos or playing video games. Granted, when I was their age, I too relished time in front of a screen, soaking up Saturday morning cartoons and neon plastic materialism.
Mobile technology is wonderful – we regularly query our favorite search engines to find trivia amidst conversations, find suggestions for that next family movie, or seek advice from strangers that can walk you through everything from making earrings, to constructing Lego wonders, to changing the exhaust on your race car. Going on a long trip? Never fear – with mobile, you can take your work with you or occupy your time with a movie or a game. Planning rendezvous are simpler too – with the ease of a text, you can coordinate whom, what, where, and when, whereas in my generation, much of that had to be decided before leaving home and a landline phone.
Driving to our four-day camping trip this weekend, my son yelled at my daughter for letting the iPad’s charge reduce to 2%, then not charging it. Even after being plugged in for 20 minutes while in traffic, the charge was still under 10%. He was distraught. I asked him why. Pondering this, he agreed that his complaint was wasted, and we slid the iPad away. He didn’t need it where we were going. He didn’t even want it, where we were going.
Being outdoors is magical. As with mobile, there is little need to plan whom, what, where, and when. The outdoors is so rich and diverse, my kids rarely lack input and insight, to be at a loss for something to do. Within a minute of arriving at camp, they were distracted by the sights, smells, sounds, and other people there. We filled four days and three nights with creek play, digging in the dirt, studying bugs, lizards, crayfish, slugs, and birds, playing classic games such as horseshoes, catch, and tag, hanging out around the campfire, and sharing time with friends.
When I got home, I wondered how long it would be before my kids would ask where the iPad was. It took 3 hours. And it’s still in the car, battery still low. Once an addict, still an addict… but I was pleased to see that some things – beautiful, natural, precious things – can still trump all the technical wonders of Silicon Valley, for days on end.
– Debbie (founder of StrollerHikes), Max (8), and Holly (4)