Child’s Play

When it comes to social media, there are just times I turn off the world, you know. There are just some times you have to give yourself space to be quiet, which means you've got to set those phones down. -Michelle Obama

Do you remember how you spent your idle time as a child? I do. I spent it outside on a swing under my backyard apple tree. I played hopscotch on the sidewalk with friends. I colored, played freeze tag and read books. We only had one TV in the living room and a record player to listen to albums. Our TV was only on after dinner and we watched it as a family.

I reflect on this today as I watch a family at the beach. Their daughter looks six years old at the most. She is posed with a pail and shovel at the water’s edge. Her parents are on their phones. Every so often, they take photos of her. She knows how to pose, stare at the camera, and smile. Then she goes back to digging in the sand. Her parents return to their phones to send the beach photo out into cyberspace.

What has happened to child’s play? A silent pantomime of life. At mealtime, the same family showed up at the table next to us. The parents promptly set up a tablet for their daughter to view. Her parents viewed their phones looking at who knows what. No photos were taken at this time. They ate their meal silently and stared at their screens.

As parents and educators, we need to make an effort to communicate with our next generation. They are growing up in a far different world than us. We need to provide hands-on learning activities that encourage exploration and curiosity. Students can use the Internet in a controlled environment exploring websites and videos. Our future citizens are fortunate to have so much information available to them at their fingertips. We need to help them make the right choices, visit educational websites, and become 21st Century Learners. What looks like play is actually meaningful learning.

*Take a look at some of our child-friendly websites under the “Learning” tab on our Diamond International School website:

Kids under age 6 watch an average of about 2 hours of screen media a day, primarily TV and videos or DVDs.

Kids and teens 8 to 18 years spend nearly 4 hours a day in front of a TV screen and almost 2 additional hours on the computer (outside of schoolwork) and playing video games.

- Kaiser Family Foundation

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