By Daddy Brad Friday, May 4th, 2012
This past Saturday evening we hosted five boys from my son’s 3rd grade class for a sleepover at our house. The gathering was a belated 9-year old birthday party for my eldest son and it began with a spirited trip to Blazer Tag for a little laser competition. We then headed back to our house for a big time game of basketball, sang happy birthday, scarfed down copious amounts of chocolate chip cookie cake and topped off the evening’s activities with a toilet paper attack on our cousin’s house several blocks away.
Yes I cleaned it up!
It appears that lots of sugar and the anxious excitement generated by partaking in a covert operation like toilet papering a house late at night puts adolescent boys into a hyper agitated state.
These boys were jacked up like firecrackers!
Having run out of planned activities and hoping to quell the WWE Smack Down going on inside the tent in the backyard, I had to come up with something.
Luckily Motorola had sent DadLabs a number of Droid RAZR phones for us to use in a Mother’s Day shoot. They had just arrived the day before so I had access to multiple phones. These were the sleek new RAZR’s pre-loaded with multiple apps and games. The folks at Motorola touted their durability and scratch resistance so I decided to test these claims, as well as give this wild bunch of grade schoolers a 30-minute cool down period before calling lights out. For a digital midnight snack each kid got to play on a phone, as long as they were quiet and remained on their sleeping bag.
The boys were delighted and settled into a nice mellow gaming mode and the phones held up well in the hands of 9 year olds. But the thing that amazed me the most was the ability of these boys to navigate the user interface of the phone. None of these kids have phones and yet they were able to manipulate the device as easily as I do, and I have Droid!
Certainly some of this can be attributed to the simplicity of the Droid platform, but I felt something else was going on.
And then it hit me!
We truly are raising a generation that will blow our minds with the things they will create using technology. As Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in the his book “Outliers,” it takes approximately 10,000 hours of doing a specific task or activity to become truly elite and an expert in that field. Up to now, very few folks get to the 10,000 hour mark in any pursuit and usually it is not until much later in life. Furthermore, there almost always exists some anomaly in an environment that allows an individual to log such hours in practice of a certain task. One of Gladwell’s examples is Bill Gates, who had voluminous and constant access to computers in his early teen years.
But as technology becomes ubiquitously embedded within our daily lives, our children will reach this threshold much earlier than any previous generation. There will be lots of little Bill Gates running around.
So just imagine what wonders this “techxpert” generation will create with the expertise they develop. I am not sure we can fathom the pace of change that is about to occur.
This epiphany also helped me realize the extreme importance of teaching our kids the value of a balanced life. All tech all the time is not a full life and as technology becomes ingrained in the day to day we must consciously work toward introducing and enjoying the no tech part of existence. While not a completely new task of parenting, monitoring screen time is becoming more of an issue.
In this high tech world one of our crucial jobs as parents will be to do things like modeling strong personal relationships, stressing the importance of the act of just visiting face to face and introducing the wonder of the natural world to our kids.
After the 30 minutes of game time had passed the boys were calmed, I gathered the phones, declared lights out and sat on the deck and listened to increasingly waning conversation and giggles until all the fellas drifted off to sleep. It took about 15 minutes. Not bad, from pure pandemonium to deep sleep in the span of 45 minutes!
And as I sat there listening to snores and distant coyote calls I considered our new duty as parents and was pleased with the balance of life that had been achieved on this evening. The boys really enjoyed the technology of laser games and Droid phones and they reveled in the camaraderie and excitement of toilet papering a cousin’s front yard. But I imagined they really dug falling asleep, in a tent, in their buddies backyard listening to the soft gentle sounds of the woods at night and being 9 years old.
Our kids will amaze us with the technology they will create as we grow older; let’s make sure we amaze them with the simple things in life.
Disclosure: Motorola provided all of the phones used during the evening and purchased additional Mother’s Day video content from DadLabs.com. But the idea to toilet paper our cousin’s house was all mine!
Tags: kids, Screen Time, Smart Phones, technology Posted in Fatherhood |
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