The new babsitters

Photo by imagerymajestic
Photo by imagerymajestic

Nothing displays more focussed attention than a child playing a video game – absorbed in the sounds and intent only on achieving the target.

My daughter related an incident during a recent visit.  At Christmas she gave her young niece a board game.  It was called Rush Hour – a number of small cars are placed on the board in various, progressively difficult,  formations as if in a parking lot.  The aim is to get one certain car out of the parking lot without removing any other cars, the only movement allowed being forward or backward.  The child didn’t know what to do with it … until her Uncle showed it to her in electronic form on his phone, which she took and with thumbs flying, proceeded to work it out.

Is it possible the child couldn’t relate to the three-dimensional objects?  That would be ironic with simulated 3D movies and television becoming increasingly available.

Does anyone else find this disconcerting?  The electronics that eat away hours of our time transform and become more sophisticated with increasing speed, changing how we relate to our world, decreasing the amount of time we are engaged face-to-face in verbal dialogue, morphing our language into RU’s, BTW’s and LOL’s, decreasing our attention span, and making violence and death a game.

At Wood Rabbit Journey there is an excellent post about today’s students that I encourage
you to read.  An excerpt:

Do they (the students) ask for help?  – rarely and when they do, they can’t seem to form full sentences.

Perhaps heartening – if this means they are working things through on their own  (which I do think many of the games encourage), yet very disturbing if they can’t articulate their thoughts and ideas.

Do your students absorb written information? – not often

Will they never be enriched by the classics?  Will they not be able to digest recounts of history?  Will their emotions never be stretched by a rich description of time or place or person?  Will their minds never sing to the rhythms of Whitman or Wordsworth, E.E. Cummings or Robert Service?

We know that children spend a lot of time on their own unsupervised – an inevitable outcome of the necessity for double-income households. Video games, xboxes and smart phones are the new babysitters, occupying them indoors, supposedly safe from a world that has become more violent and is roamed by predators. Texting and emails decrease the need for face-to-face and give a false sense of anonymity, feeding the trend  to a lack of accountability and responsibility.

Life-like video games and advancing technology are not undesirables but how do we work to ensure the coming generation don’t lose themselves in a virtual world?

Photo by imagerymajestic
Photo by imagerymajestic

Jake’s Sunday Post is: Focussed Attention

14 thoughts on “The new babsitters

  1. My best friend who is a teacher has been teaching for 25 years. She said that kids didn’t know how to communicate any more because they don’t listen, and they just wanted to play games on the computer. That was some eight, nine years ago, when games were not so sophisticated and computers not so speedy, and no iPhone, iPad…


    1. I don’t know what the answer is – all parents seem to be facing the same thing. I get quite disturbed when I see the level of communication on some FB pages I’ve flitted passed – reduced to “Hey” spoken as a full sentence and responded to in various forms of grunts mixed with incomplete sentences with attrocious spelling – to some extent this might be the ‘cool’ language but the impression it leaves is not to be desired and more people than they know are viewing it.


      1. Part is because young kids are not taught or asked to read literature as we were. They have no patient to read because they are having too much fun playing e-games. My husband is a science professor, it depresses me just to hear his concerns…


  2. First of all I want to say that these things greatly disturb me but I wonder…how often has a generation expressed a similar sentiment about the one following in its footsteps? How much of our interconnectedness was lost when we stopped sitting on the porch in the evenings, visiting with our neighbors because air conditioning allowed us to be comfortable inside. When I was a small child, we watched TV together on Sunday nights as a family, it began to change as more channels and programming became available and, as we all know, became the first inanimate babysitter.
    There are things each generation mourn as they are lost forever while the next embraces change with excited, open, and naive arms. It is only with the passing of time, the development of perspective through experience, that we are able to learn how great many of those losses are.
    I have to wonder about our ever-developing desire to separate ourselves from our family, neighbors, and the world around us.


    1. I just made a similar comment in reply to Wanderlust – we are no different than all the previous generations worrying about the future of the world and our chldren’s place in it. But I agree, the increasing lack of interaction with those around us is disturbing.


  3. Good question Lynne, and one I ponder constantly when I watch my grandkids deft fingers that seem to be permanently attached to consoles or remotes. A perfect take on the challenge 🙂


  4. Loved your take on the challenge Lynne! I agree with you, it’s all a bit worrying isn’t it? I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about my grandkids and their kids and the world they’re going to live in because I wouldn’t know how to relate 😦


    1. I got a comment back from R, the author of Wood Rabbit Journey with something even more disturbing:

      ” In response to your post (pingback below), and your daughter’s observations… there have been many studies that suggest young people should severely limit the use of tv/cell phone/computer screens as their eyes develop (instead of looking at them more often). The extended focus on a 2D screen is hindering real-life depth perception in developing eyes. As a result, young people will better see and understand a virtual world instead of the real one in which they live.”

      Where is this going to lead? It’s has rather horrifying implications.


        1. I know every parent over the milleniums has had concerns over the future of the next generation and what sort of world it will be … but, what sort of world WILL it be and how will they adapt to fit into it?


  5. I re-read the part about your daughter’s niece because I thought I must have misunderstood…but I did read it correctly the first time. I am amazed that technology is needed to understand the real, physical world in front of a young person. Thank you for continuing the conversation here. I’m not sure what the next steps should be but sharing our concerns will hopefully help…


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