Raising an Electronic Generation

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While out to dinner last week with friends, we observed three families being seated around us; the six parents sat to one side of our table while their children sat at a large round table to the other side of us.  We looked at that group of eight boys under 12 sitting unsupervised and visibly cringed. The looks on our face conveyed to each other that we all anticipated a certain amount of chaos and noise from that children’s table.  I even said a quick prayer that the expected chaos would not influence the seven kids at our own table who were happily coloring on their paper menus.

Several moments later, someone mentioned that it was really quiet at that all boy table.  We glanced over and noticed no one at the table talking or moving.  There was no goofing off, joking around or noise at all from them.  To our surprise, each child held a handheld video game or phone.  Throughout the entire dinner, this table of eight young boys remained silent, completely absorbed in their own electronic world.

Studies are showing that the current young adult generation has difficulty focusing on singular tasks due to constant multitasking and external stimulation.  I fear that the next younger generation, our children, will experience the problem tenfold. Look around at the number of businesses that cater to children – haircut place, dentist, nail salon –advertising videos or video games for children to use not only while they wait, but also during the service.  While I can recognize the benefit of using an age-appropriate video to distract a very young child during their first haircut to keep them still, it is my opinion that a child old enough for a dental cleaning or manicure is old enough to do so without constant visual entertainment.

Trust me, there are times I am extremely tempted to hand my kids a handheld video game or my iPhone in order to get a moments peace and quiet while out in public.  In extreme circumstances, I’ve actually done this, though that is the rarity and not the norm. Typically I find that simply engaging my child in a conversation, a game of “I Spy,” or hangman can bring us through almost any situation.  Sure, it’s easier to just let them take their electronic game with them or hand them my phone, but as parents we know that some of the greatest lessons we can teach our children come from not giving in to the “easy” things.

I fear that our society is raising up a generation who will not have the ability to develop interpersonal connections or relate with friends without relying on electronics.

Those boys at dinner missed out on what should have been a talkative, active, social occasion with friends. Sometimes a loud and crazy dinner out at a restaurant is a good thing.

Copyright 2011 Lisa Jones

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About Author

Lisa Henley Jones is a former stay-at-home mom who discovered a new career as an online marketer/social media manager. She blogs at Of Sound Mind and Spirit with her sister, Shelly Kelly, about faith and family life. During the hot summers in Houston, Lisa can be found by the pool eating popsicles with her husband and three school-aged children.

2 Comments

  1. I see this all the time and in fact we are slightly guilty at times of allowing one or both of our older children to play games on our phones. But when we are out to eat I really don’t like them doing it because it’s rude and they don’t engage in conversation, which is one of the benefits of eating together as a family.
    A while a go we went to a local sushi restaurant we go to often and a young couple came in with a 2 year old, sat him down in the high chair and plopped a personal DVD player in front of him. While I wasn’t that shocked I was slightly annoyed that they had the volume at a very loud level. Everyone in the small dining room was forced to listen to the Japanese cartoon. It definitely distracted my kids because they wanted to see what the child was watching.
    I commented to my husband that if we put that little DVD player in front our almost 2 year old he would have smashed it on the floor. So I’m sure the child watching the cartoon was very used to being entertained by an electronic device when out to eat.
    I’m afraid you might be on to something about our society raising a generation of people who won’t be able to communicate without an electronic device. I see more and more kids like the boys you described and the small child at the sushi restaurant far too often than not.

  2. Steve bakatsas on

    Unfortunately, these devices are here to stay. They are not going anywhere, I am 48 and I have an IPAD and love it! You must set some strict ground rules and if they are violated, you must cripple the device somehow. Since I am familiar with these devices, I also know how to render them inoperable. There are passwords and batteries, etc. there are different ways to stop your kid from these devices. There is a time and place for everything. You don’ t want your child to become a recluse.

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