Too Much Content Not Enough Contact
February 26, 2018 by Don Gentle
There are far too many articles out there about the effects of screen time on children. I have even listed a few below if you need some reminders. What we are beginning to understand about screen time and technology is that, like most worldly pleasures in life, most everything in moderation goes a long way. What I see as an adult and parent in my day to day interaction with young people is that more and more they have difficulties interacting face to face with other people. And we all work hard as parents, especially here in the south, helping our children practice good manners. The tried and true skills of looking them in the eye; shaking their hand; saying thank you; yes sir, no ma’am. I think you get what I am talking about.
What my concern is that while our children spend more hours getting content from these screens, they are spending less time practicing being human and less time having real contact with one another.
We all understand these effects and as parents, it concerns us. What we may be lacking is an answer, there is no question that technology is part of our daily lives. I am not here to argue that technology is bad. I love it! What I believe is that it is important to take a break. The best way (and possibly the only way) is to remove the children from the day to day world that requires it.
One of the far-reaching advantages great summer camps have over parents is that we create an opportunity for time away from daily technology. Here at Camp High Rocks, none of the boys can bring their screens. Not only are we on the constant move and searching for adventure, we also set up situations for boys to interact with each other. Attending traditional overnight summer camps creates that place and space away from the day to day technology. There are few opportunities today that can create this atmosphere that everyone needs.
In a way, it is almost impossible for parents to remove phones and screens from their children’s daily lives. I think about the parenting trap that you may remember. To punish my brother, my parents would take away his car and the privilege to drive it. I am sure you already know the outcome. They had to drive him to his activities, work, and then figure out how he was going to get to and from school. In a way, it created more problems than it was worth. Sure, we have all improved our parenting and have found better ways to teach a lesson that does not create more work as a parent. I think you understand where I am coming from. It is harder than you think to try to remove technology from our everyday lives.
I keep thinking about the Pixar movie WALL-E. While this movie came out almost ten years ago, some of the realities in the movie are beginning to unfold. If you remember, the entire human population was on a ship and they all sat in chairs with a big screen in front of them. All their interaction was through the screen… They never had to move! Everyone is obese. Even their hands and feet were deformed because they stopped using them and started only using voice commands to get what they needed (read Alexa, Siri, Xfinity). I can save the environmental focus and reality of the movie for another post.
I use this example to emphasize my previous point. Moving and interacting with each other is important for our physical and psychological well-being. Summer camp allows children the opportunity to move and interact with the physical world around them. The overnight experience creates and requires boys to learn how to be away from this day to day screen time. It helps them appreciate, not just nature, but also each other. Our bodies are meant to move… Our lives are meant to work and play together…in reality.
While I don’t pretend that Camp High Rocks is THE best camp for every boy, we do a pretty good job of focusing on our mission and creating a great traditional sleepaway summer camp experience. Even if High Rocks is not the place for your son, I cannot emphasize how important it is to get away and be real for a while.