Carpe diem. With winter break on the horizon Lauren & I wanted to share our evolving thoughts on technology with our camp community. Our children will be home for the holidays for a week or two, soaking up much needed re-charging and decompression time. Parents will be faced even more with the question of how much “screen time” to allow. Full disclosure: While our Eli is only two and a half years old, we already face that very real question. Eli knows how to work an iPad and iPhone; that seems wild to me! Lauren & I have to set boundaries around how much time he gets to watch his (PBS Kids only) shows and play with his Wheels on the Bus app. This too is our dilemma.
One of our summer leadership team members recently submitted his thesis for his M.Ed. He chose to focus on the powerful emotional intelligence education that campers learn at Blue Star (of course, Lauren & I are deeply honored). He even quotes from Herman Popkin’s book, Once Upon A Summer. Paraphrasing his thesis liberally, technological frills distract a person from living life fully awake.
Thoreau echoes this idea: “with a hundred ‘modern improvements:’ there is an illusion about them; there is not always a positive advance…. Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end.” Thoreau, [Vol 4] Walden, 57
At Blue Star we have the increasingly rare opportunity to provide a safe space for children to really BE PRESENT with other children (and older mentors in our incredible camp staff). They can engage directly in “face-to-face” time, learning how to navigate the labyrinth of social dynamics and how to read social cues from their peers. Do they need their screens in this setting? Do their screens help them discover their best selves, build intentional community, and do good?
We leave you with more questions than answers and another article (and short podcast) that we have found to be instructive…