Have you ever tried turning off the TV?

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“I am a child of the science age…” – David Lee Roth

Yeah, I guess I am. I’ve seen technology come and go. I’ve seen video evolve from top load VHS players that was big as a console television to everything you ever need video-wise condense down to a 10″ tablet or even the phones we keep in our pockets. 

Growing up TV wasn’t something my family gathered around really. We had our moments I suppose. Occasionally watching “Hee Haw” or some football game. On Saturday mornings, I’d watch local wrestling or some kung fu movie. Considering how much I love movies and the elements of TV shows, I’m surprised it doesn’t mean more to me. 

The past few years after watching social media change the landscape of what I do for a living and how we work. I have to take breaks nowadays from all things online. Yeah, I’m guilty of binging all episodes of a show on on occasion, but most recently, I’ve learned to turn things off. I’m not as active as I once was online. I’ve had enough by the time the afternoon comes around. I don’t want that external interference or stimulation. I need a break. 

A form of addiction

According to a recent study in the UK: 

  • Kids spend twice as long playing on screens as they do playing outside.
  • 3-in-4 kids spend less than 60 minutes playing outside each day.
  • 1-in-5 kids don’t play outside at all on a typical day.
  • 3-in-4 parents said their kids often refuse to play games without some form of technology.
  • 2-in-3 parents say their kids spend less time outside than they did as children.

 

I’ll sound like a grandpa here; “Back in my day…” We HAD to go outside. We weren’t allowed to come back inside until the sun went down. I would ride my Kuwahara BMX bike everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Until I learned how to drive and got my license, then I was never home because I was either at soccer practice, doing something for school or working at the record store. 

The hover parent generation has changed the landscape of being a child. They schedule playdates, they enforce things like everyone gets a participation medal, they throw a tablet in front of their kids faces just to shut them up. I was once coaching a group of U12 boys for a local soccer club. One of the kids never wanted to practice or play. He told me point blank that he was only there because his parents made him. He said he’d rather be home playing Call of Duty. I made him sit out of practice and never played him in games.

It wasn’t until the kid saw how much fun the other players were having (something I strive for at that age when I coach), he decided to get more involved and by the end of the season, he had turned into one of my best players. What he didn’t have technically, he made up by playing with determination and would give it his all.  He’s one of my success stories. He now plays soccer for a DIII college as a hard-nose defender. 

All of these kids, unfortunately, will never know what it is like to do without something. Their every need and desire is met with almost immediate gratification. They can order practically anything online and it will be delivered as quick as logistics will allow it. They have a hard time making friends occasionally due to their use of text apps. They don’t know what it’s like to make small talk in person. 

I’ve watched my own boys have a conversation via text while they’re all in the same room. I’ve seen married friends on Twitter do the same thing. Come on…put the screens down and communicate in real time. I’ve seen videos offering advice on how to have a conversation with people. 

I’m of the generation that crossed between analog and digital. I know what it’s like to not have a screen to look up trivial information or to have the weather report at my fingertips. I know what it’s like to have to sit in the parking lot of a soccer field while you wait for a parent to pick you up and wonder if you were forgotten. So there sits the conundrum; Technology is great and useful. It’s helped to solved crimes. But it’s also guilty of a crime itself in denying people the useful tool of communication.