Screen time vs nature time

In the Metro today (the freebie daily paper) the ‘plugged in’ column has the sub heading ‘Children as young as three are embracing an education revolution with iPads’.

It got me thinking: is it right that children so young are connected to the world of technology? Should they be able to work an iPad before they can read or write? Am I just trying to stem the tide of progress by even thinking that this isn’t natural.

For me its part of a wider assault on what we used to call childhood. A few weeks back a Minister in the UK government suggested that we should start preparing kids for the world of work from the age of 3.

What is happening to play and that sense of discovery? We’re in danger of structuring their worlds at a very early age – making everything feel very structure, in effect like folders on a computer.

Three year old’s just want to play: finding their way in the world by taking risks and learning from their mistakes. Their brains are like sponges and they take in lots of information as they begin to talk, write and read. Its such an amazing thing to see as they grow physically and mentally.

Yes the reality is that children do spend time staring at screens of varying sizes but like everything in life it needs to be managed or rationed.

As a society we’re connected 24/7. I’m writing this blog on a blackberry when I could be reading or staring out of the window. Parents and adults need to set an example by getting their own screen time right. Our minds and souls need nature time and there is a risk that we don’t get enough of it whether children or adults.

Its natural for us to want to be in nature and close to nature. However through the industrial and technological revolution we’ve lost or are losing that vital connection. And now it seems for even the very young age we’re being ‘plugged in’ where the virtual becomes more appealing than the real and yet in so many ways its the other way round.

Technology can help us learn and develop as people. But we need to strike a balance between screen time and nature time. Let’s keep childhood special encouraging children to discover, enjoy and have fun. I’m not sure that three year-olds should know how to work an iPad.

I’m no luddite but I do worry that we’re at a tipping point where technology creates such a hold that it seems more natural than nature.

We need to get the balance right.


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