Latest News: Technology |  Celebrity |  Movies |  Apple |  Cars |  Business |  Sports |  TV Shows |  Geek


Filed under: News


3 Tips For Disconnecting Kids From Over-Stimulation, Video Games, And Digital Media

Jan 15 2014, 6:31am CST | by

10 Updates
3 Tips For Disconnecting Kids From Over-Stimulation, Video Games, And Digital Media
Photo Credit: Forbes


Full Story

3 Tips For Disconnecting Kids From Over-Stimulation, Video Games, And Digital Media

Do your kids need to disconnect?

Are video games and the proliferation of mobile devices making us expect constant stimulation? Are we raising a generation of kids that believe they are entitled to be entertained at all times?

Like the King with his court jester, do your kids think that they have a divinely ordained right to be amused at all times? Can your kids sit still? Can you? Do you know how to wait?

For better or worse, most of our kids now spend more time in the digitally constructed sandbox of video games than they do with the worms, stones, sticks and dirt that reigned during my imaginative childhood. What happened to make-believe? Many parents worry that their kids will never learn how to be content without electronic stimulation.

But it is too simple to just blame the new tech for the destruction of the old ways.

Certainly, when I was a teenager, we didn’t have Twitter and Facebook in the palms of our hands. I wrote in my journal or read a book while waiting for the train to and from school. Idle time was spent window shopping or people watching. My kids, on the other hand, might never have to think about how to keep themselves occupied. But is this necessarily a bad thing?

Are we creating a generation of children that are addicted to digital media? Or is this progress? Perhaps we have technologically mastered the problem of human boredom.

“Can I bring the iPad? Can I bring my 3DS?” I hear these questions constantly. I often bring both the iPad and the android tablets to the doctor’s waiting room. My eight year old brings his eReader to restaurants. Even during a quick, ten minute trip into a coffee shop so I can buy myself a shot of espresso, my kids expect to be entertained. I usually say yes. I like when they’re quiet. I get embarrassed if I have to tell them to behave in public places too often. Anyone who has kids knows that boredom breeds misbehavior.

As a result of constant digital stimulation, my kids rarely tell me that they’re bored. When they do, I respond with a phrase my mother used to say to me.

“Only boring people get bored.”

My boys don’t get it. And I’m not sure I believe it. I say it purely out of habit. Some people might call it tradition. It is like an addiction: cyclical, repetitive–a phrase preserved one generation after another. These are words said without intention. These are words said thoughtlessly, without mindfulness. I say them just because my mother did. Frankly, I find repetition boring. The world changes.

Here are 3 things parents should know about stimulation, boredom, and disconnecting in a modern hyper-connected world.

1. Parenting isn’t a binary on/off switch

Don’t just demand disconnection; you can’t just turn off the game console. You have to teach your kids how to occupy disconnected time. Parenting is not binary. It is not as simple as an on/off toggle switch.

I find it crazy that when it comes to our children we prefer quick fixes, grounded in over simplification. We want kids to learn complex thinking, but we approach parenting by avoiding complex uncertainty and confusing ambiguity at all costs.

Bottom line: boredom and stimulation are not necessarily opposites. Digital living is not necessarily the enemy of mindful living. Be wary whenever you are presented with a dichotomy between good and evil.

In the October 28 issue of The New Yorker, Evgeny Morozov wrote an article called “Only Disconnect: Two Cheers For Boredom.”  Morozov is critical of the “the state of permanent receptivity” that has “become the birthright of anyone with a smartphone.” He worries that our constantly curated world promotes a culture of “mediated boredom.” Morozov imagines “mediated boredom” like a chemical addiction that “doesn’t provide time to think; it just produces a craving for more information in order to suppress it.”

Morozov is echoing a familiar new moral high ground that seems to be developing around the use of digital devices. If your social media world is anything like mine, folks are often posting self-congratulatory status updates about how happy they are to turn off their smartphone for a weekend. They describe their hiatus as if it were a monastic retreat from email and social notifications.

It seems like sacrificing digital distractions is the religious asceticism of the mindful new age.

Step off your soap box of disconnection. It is not that simple. Asceticism has always been tricky. Abstinence and self-discipline through will-power is only useful if avoidance leads to something better. Sacrifice for its own sake is the stuff of ancient cults. This is why the modern the solution, according to Morozov, is “radical boredom, and radical distraction.” Both are available through “controlled disconnection” which will force us not to settle for “tepid, mediocre versions” of boredom and distraction. I like the words “tepid” and “mediocre.” They remind us that most of what goes viral on the internet is only mildly interesting–not “AMAZING” or “MIND-BLOWING.”

Morozov’s advice is fine for adults, but let’s not kid ourselves. Radically bored kids won’t spontaneously think of radical distractions. They need to be taught what to do when disconnected. You can’t just scream “no video games” and expect that the kids will miraculously discover creative, imaginative projects. Parents need to offer alternatives. Parents need to teach them how to follow the directions in the LEGO box. Parents need to sit beside them and encourage them to draw their own comic books. Parents need to model imaginative play by playing with kids.

2.  Imaginative play is always disorderly and noisy

Parents seem really confused when it comes to digital media and video games. There are multiple narratives and they all seem contradictory. For example, I’ve yet to meet a parent who doesn’t have some level of anxiety about how much screen time their kids get. But these same parents also, like most of us, covet quietness.

Nobody likes listening to kids scream, yell, and bang toys against things. When my kids are occupied with the rigidity of structured, orderly play the general atmosphere in my home is much more conducive to productively going about my adult business.

Video games and digital media keep my kids quietly distracted. When they’re playing Angry Birds, things are quiet and orderly in my house. This is hardly surprising. Patterns, systems, and order are an essential part of interactive digital gameplay.

In his book, A Theory Of Fun For Game Design, Ralph Koster explains that “Games are puzzles to solve, just like everything else we encounter in life. They are on the same order as learning to drive a car, or picking up the mandolin, or learning your multiplication tables. We learn the underlying patterns.”

When it comes to questions about how our kids spend their time, we’re right to worry that video games and media prevent our kids from being imaginative. Perhaps the reason we suspect that video games and digital media might lead to hyperactive short attention spans is simply one of balance. Video games encourage our kids to swing so far to the orderly side of cognitive problem solving that the pendulum simply must swing all the way back to the disorderly side. Gaming teaches your kids important cognitive skills but without balance, the can also hinder the development of imaginative thinking.

The move from order to entropy can be important.  The French philosopher Gaston Bachelard wrote extensively about the imagination. “We always think of imagination as the faculty that forms images. On the contrary, it deforms what we perceive; it is, above all, the faculty that frees us from the immediate images and changes them.” Bachelard’s theories suggest that the gritty perseverance that video games promote is in direct conflict with the kind of innovative problem solving skills that we want our kids to develop. According to Bachelard, anything which builds habitual patterns “is the exact antithesis of the creative imagination. The habitual image obstructs imaginative powers.”

The point here is that you shouldn’t expect quiet when your kids move away from the game console. If you’re hoping they’ll quietly assemble a jigsaw puzzle, you’ve got it all wrong. A jigsaw puzzle and a video game stimulate the same kinds of thinking.

When your kids step away from a video game they should be noisy. The rigor of the imagination is chaotic and silly.

Yes your kids need a break. But not from the screen. They need a break from rigidity, structure, quiet, and the habitual systems based thinking that the video games promote.

3. Your kids ARE entitled to amusement

Remember that play is something your kids need to LEARN how to do. Video games are better than most parents at teaching kids how to play.  Get better! Teach your kids how to be amused.

To amuse literally means to put into a trance. Amusement pre-occupies, bewilders, confounds and puzzles. The concept of amusement is descended from the ancient Greek notion that mortals are often spellbound by the nine Muses, daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne.

Modern researchers don’t like magic. They prefer to come up with supposedly ‘scientific’ names for mythological concepts. They prefer to put things in boxes. They call Muse-inspired enchantment: “FLOW.”

App and game developers have borrowed the term Flow from the field of positive psychology. Flow describes the pleasure of total immersion. Flow is what you feel, as a player, when you are so wrapped up in the game that you barely notice the life-world around you. In fact, you barely notice yourself. You are completely absorbed in the tasks at hand. In her bestseller, Reality Is Broken, Jane McGonigal describes flow in this way, ”flow is exhilarating in the moment. It makes us feel energized. A major flow experience can improve our mood for hours, or even days, afterward.”

But when our kids are in Flow–immersed, ignoring us, jaw hanging opened, eyes glued to the screen–we get worried. We call them vegetables or zombies. Critics and mindfulness gurus say we’re creating a world where people aren’t capable of being in the present–that we need less multitasking and more single-tasking. I’ve talked to hundreds of teachers who say our kids can no longer focus on just one thing at a time. However, anyone with an eight year old that plays Minecraft can attest that kids spend a lot of time spellbound, focused on the task at hand.

The problem has nothing to do with a kid’s ability to focus. The problem is that adults have taken the magic and wonder out of the real world. There’s nothing worth focusing on. There’s nothing spellbinding left to amuse our children. Of course, the world is plenty magical, but we generally teach our kids to rely exclusively on a kind of Apollonian, measured thinking that conforms to the laws of physics.

I’m all for rational thinking, but both kids and adults would benefit from more magical thinking. The focus on certainty, clear definitions, and test scores strips nuance from our experience of the world. When we devalue the arts and humanities, we prioritize quantitative ways of experiencing the world over qualitative ways. We increasingly eliminate the education in rigorous imagination. We forget that poiesis and metaphor provides children with the skill to use rational thinking in outside-the-box ways.

When adults can only see the world through the bezel of a tiny screen, taking photos, recording video, and mediating their everyday experience like a performance–constructing a meta-narrative through the creation of deterministic social media moments–they model boring ways of being for their children.

When your kids turn off the game console, you should also turn off yours. Use the time to teach your kids how to be silly. Model make believe. Stop acting like a grown-up; it’s boring.

Instead, take a walk through the woods and look for tree-spirits. Visit a cemetery and pretend to hunt for zombies. Talk to the squirrels.

Jordan Shapiro is author of  FREEPLAY: A Video Game Guide to Maximum Euphoric Bliss . For information on his upcoming books and events click here.

Source: Forbes


iPad Air Giveaway. Win a free iPad Air.

You Might Also Like


Sponsored Update

Update: 10

4 Firms In Iskandar Malaysia Get Facilitation Fund Totalling RM16.2 Million

Source: Malaysia Today

(Bernama) – Four companies have received the facilitation fund amounting to RM16.2 million from TERAJU@Iskandar Malaysia in an information sharing programme on business opportunities and as ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today 4 days ago, 7:42am CDT


Update: 9

Selangor’s Watergate about to explode

Source: Malaysia Today

Anwar brought Wan Azmi to meet Khalid to try to resolve this matter. Anwar supports the RM2.5 billion claim but Khalid is stubbornly sticking to the figure ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today 5 days ago, 4:12am CDT

More From the Web

Update: 8

GLCs told to provide RM7 billion to develop Bumiputera firms

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – Putrajaya has directed government-linked companies (GLC) to generate RM7 billion in business opportunities for Bumiputera firms this year, Prime Minister Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak... ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 17 2014, 2:05am CDT

Update: 7

Rafizi shows proof of Putrajaya’s hand in contentious carpet-trader loan

Source: Malaysia Today

Eileen Ng, The Malaysian Insider PKR lawmaker Rafizi Ramli today revealed documents to prove Putrajaya interfered in the RM32 million Bank Rakyat loan to ‎controversial businessman Deepak Jaikishan. Rafizi (pic)... READ MO ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 16 2014, 2:16am CDT

Update: 6

PAS MP claims Bank Rakyat loaned carpet-trader RM215m, interest free

Source: Malaysia Today

(Malay Mail Online) – Controversial businessman Deepak Jaikishan (pic) was given a whopping RM215 million interest-free loan from state-owned Bank Rakyat, a PAS lawmaker alleged today, despite Putrajaya’s claims otherwis ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 14 2014, 5:52am CDT

Update: 5

MRCB, Nusa Gapurna and PKNS settle suit over RM3 billion PJ Sentral project

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB), Nusa Gapurna Development Sdn Bhd (NGD) and PKNS Holdings Sdn Bhd have reached an out-of-court settlement over the ownership of the. ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 21 2014, 2:53am CDT

Update: 4

Story behind Syed Mokhtar’s ‘RM2.25 billion tax-exempt’ Bernas deal revealed, says PKR MP

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – An innocuous written reply in Parliament has provided a peek into the cosy relationship between the Najib administration and Malaysia’s best-known businessman, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar... RE ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 15 2014, 12:56pm CDT

Update: 3

Constitutional monarchy still murky concept

Source: Malaysia Today

After the RM4.5 billion land sale, the Sultan of Johor secured a 15% stake in MOL Access Portal (MOL) for RM396 million and took a 20% stak ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 14 2014, 12:37am CDT

Update: 2

Sultan of Johor’s RM4.5 bil backlash?

Source: Malaysia Today

Has Sultan Ibrahim of Johor’s succession of big money deals over the last six months caused the tide of public opinion to turn against Johor’s royal palace? KiniBiz examines the ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 11 2014, 8:49am CDT

Update: 1

Putrajaya denies carpet dealer given interest-free loan

Source: Malaysia Today

Eileen Ng, The Malaysian Insider Putrajaya today refuted allegations that Bank Rakyat had allowed carpet dealer Deepak Jaikishan to repay a RM32 million loan without interest following intervention from a... R ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 11 2014, 5:44am CDT

Shopping Deals


<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.




blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 Touchscreen Ultrabook is Great for Back to School
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 Touchscreen Ultrabook is Great for Back to School
Lenovo IdeaPad is available at Amazon for $649.99. For back to school the new Lenovo Flex 15 is a great notebook. Be sure to buy yours today. Introducing the Lenovo Flex 15 - it's more than just a typical notebook....
ASUS K200MA-DS01T Touchscreen Laptop is a Great Back to School Laptop
ASUS K200MA-DS01T Touchscreen Laptop is a Great Back to School Laptop
ASUS K200MA Touchscreen laptop is available at Amazon for $299.99. Now is the time to start getting ready for baack to school. So if you are in the market for laptop for your student check out the ASUS K200MA. Everyday...
Back to School Time is Here Make Sure Your Student is Ready with the Acer Chromebook Touch
Back to School Time is Here Make Sure Your Student is Ready with the Acer Chromebook Touch
Acer Chromebook Touch is available at Amazon for $260.39. It is that time of year again time for school time to start. Be sure your student is ready with the Acer Chromebook with touch. Acer introduces its first...
ASUS Transformer Book T100TA-H2-GR Laptop is Perfect for Back to School
ASUS Transformer Book T100TA-H2-GR Laptop is Perfect for Back to School
ASUS Transformer T100TA-H2-GR is available at Amazon for $449.99. With a 10” detachable tablet, the ASUS Transformer Book T100 is the ultimate 2-in-1 portable notebook. It’s light as ever, but packs 64GB SSD storage on...

About the Geek Mind

Read more about The Geek Mind.