An article from the Washington Post’s The Answer Sheet blog asks the question “Is technology sapping children’s creativity?” Early childhood development expert Nancy Carlsson-Paige fears it is. She writes:
Researchers who have tracked children’s creativity for 50 years are seeing a significant decrease in creativity among children for the first time, especially younger children from kindergarten through sixth grade. This decline in creativity is thought to be due at least in part to the decline of play.
Carlsson-Paige explains that much of a child’s understanding about the world is developed through the problem solving and creativity expressed in the engagement of all their senses that comes through play with people and materials in nature.
I think that we as parents know this without being told. We know that building a block tower and knocking it down 37 times is better than watching an episode of Sesame Street. We know that a week-long game of Monopoly over Christmas break — even with the battle for the race car and the crying over bankruptcy — is better than playing it on the Wii. And we know that going into the kitchen and learning to make a smoothie is better than playing that weird “make your own Icee” app on the iPhone.
We know. The question is: Do we act on the knowledge? Sometimes it’s hard. Most afternoons and evenings I have to drive to multiple practices; prepare, serve and clean up a meal; quiz someone on spelling words; and make sure the specific shirt someone needs tomorrow is clean. “Mom, can you play a game of chess with me?” is not a request I can often fill.
So what can I do? Look for times I can fit in that game of chess and initiate it. Suggest a smoothie-making afternoon. Require time when the iPad, Phone, and Pod must sit in their cradles. Most of all I can detach myself from technology long enough to see that there is better fun to be had. I can get creative.
Get creative! What will you do?
Photo credit: Oswaldo Ordóñez (flickr.com)