Not exactly your Marvel Avenger’s line up, but I’ve got a feeling The Eason Clan could overwhelm one villain if we worked together – maybe a lame sounding character like Egghead or Asbestos Lady (yes, actual Marvel villains). Shout out to my friend XerxesInEaster, for the awesome image she created for us: Isaac’s super speed, Benaiah’s archery mastery, Railene’s stretchy arms and Ava’s hyper-sonic voice, with my wife and I holding everyone together.
Todays blog is about my wacky kiddos, the beauty of our imaginations and how our society’s current trend for increased screen time is hurting our children rather than helping them. I hope you enjoy this Short and Sweet!
Eating With Camels
THURSDAY – 6:30AM
It was a morning like any other. I was awakened by the faint call of my youngest – his voice muffled through my bedroom wall.
I stirred from my sleep. Faintly, I heard Isaacs’ voice call again…and again…and again.
Then just like velociraptors from Jurassic Park….
….Isaac’s call was met with replies from the other bedrooms.
“Daddddd! Daaaaddddddddaaaaaa!” Ava.
“DAD!” One second pause. “DAD!” Two second pause. “DAD!” Benaiah.
All hope faded for sleeping in. I reached for my glasses, unplugged my iPhone from the charger and opened my Bible app to check the verse of the day. As the voices continued to echo throughout the room, I realized something.
I do have four children, right?
Peeking down over the sheets I saw Railene, standing in the shadows of my bedroom door, staring blankly into my soul.
In Railenes mind:
So with my stalker staring at me, I donned my grandfathers robe and started releasing the ‘dinosaurs’ from their rooms. Forming a semi-orderly line, we proceeded down the stairs into the living room/ kitchen. While the children corralled around the kitchen table, I poured up Honey Nut Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal for all. Grabbing the weekly flyers (after all I have six mouths to feed) I sat down to the table with my oatmeal and milk and everyone dug in.
Like four camels eating their last meal…
….the unnatural sounds that were coming from my children were something else; chomping and munching, with the occasional “Mmmm” of delight. Our typical morning breakfast was interrupted however, when Isaac shouted out, “Dad! Lick my finger!”
Everything went quiet.
I looked up to see Isaac with his finger covered in maple syrup, pointed towards the ceiling.
I’ve heard “pull my finger”, and “smell my finger” but this one was new.
Licking my son’s finger? Yeah, that’s a hard NO.
“Nah, I think I’ll pass, pal.”
He then repeated himself – as if I didn’t understand his offer the first time.
“Dad! Lick my fingerrrrrr!”
“Isaac, I am not licking your finger. Sure, just look what’s on it by!'”
“What is dis? SYRUP!?” he shouted.
I watched as he held out his finger towards the kitchen window for more light to expose the syrup. He was about to put his finger in his mouth, when he let out a cry of disgust!
“D’ere’s hair on dis!”
Sure enough, a clump of fuzz (probably from his PJ’s) was stuck to the syrup on his fingertip. His fascination turned into him frantically trying to get the syrup off. So like any good father at 7:00AM in the morning (enjoying his bowl of Cinnamon toast crunch) I decided not to get up and get a cloth.
He was about to wipe the goo in his shirt when I said, “Go wash your hands.”
Typical Eason Clan breakfast drama.
Losing Our Imaginations
Flying around the room, with lightening reflexes that even the dexterous King of Wakanda, the Black Panther, could not match. Tossing massive pieces of debris out of my way, with strength that rivals even Captain America‘s super soldier serum. Tinkering away on my rapid fire arm blasters that even Tony Stark could not invent in his advanced laboratories!
Meet Christian – last week 😛
From my earliest years, I remember having a great imagination. Whether I was dreaming up ‘new’ worlds, or running through the woods behind my house, fending off hordes of orcs with my Elvish bow (a stick with a shoe lace for bowstring); I’ve always been able to transform seemingly ordinary things and places into adventures that kept me entertained for hours.
Now as a father, I love watching my children play around the house; making a ‘campsite’ tent with blankets and getting their rations ready for a raging storm that approaches (a light rain shower outside). I enjoy it because it brings back such wonderful memories of my own childhood; seeing the joy on their faces, the creativity that unfolds through their interaction with each other and their imagination. It is beautiful to witness.
Sadly, many children today are being robbed of that vital skill: their imaginations.
“Do you mean like an army of robots sucking our brains out and people being transformed into androids?”
Something like that.
Through the misuse of technology by parents and grandparents (giving a child, hours and hours of screen time a day, whether that’s through a tablet, iPad, cellphone or TV) many children are slowly having that skill drained and replaced with with negative effects that comes from excessive screen time.
I believe this is due, in part, to parents and grandparents finding it easier to ‘handle a child’ by giving them a electronic device and letting them spend hours watching content, rather than having to engage with their child or parent them in setting that requires correction and an watchful eye, ie. family outings, restaurants, places of faith, waiting rooms, etc.
Below are two examples. The first is from a movie and the second is my own experience at the grocery store last week.
***Spoiler for Shaun the Sheep movie***
Shaun the Sheep is a great TV show. It’s comical, family friendly, and it has some great values. Shaun is a cute sheep that gets into all kind of mischief, and somehow he manages to make things right every time. In Shaun the Sheep the flight before Christmas, Timmy (a baby sheep) accidently gets taken by a human child in the film. It becomes clear throughout the movie that the boy’s parents are consumed with their phones and social media; as they are glued to their devices and taking selfies and editing pictures and videos for the coveted ‘likes’.
In one scene, the boy is lying in his bed, waiting for his father to come in and read him a story book. In walks the dad, who is met with a cry of delight from the son at the thought of story time. The father – with his hands behind his back- suddenly pulls out not a book, but a tablet… with a pre-recorded video of himself reading a story book. Laying it on the bed, he says goodnight to his son and walks out of his bedroom, leaving the boy alone.
Far fetched? I think not.
In 2019 in Britain, one research group found that only 32% of British children under 13 are read to daily by their parents, down significantly from data two years prior. The second research group surveyed 27,000 children, 8 -18 year-olds and found that only 52% read for pleasure while only 25% read daily. That’s a huge dip, as those numbers are from 2012 to 2016. The last group concluded that, “The majority of boys and over half of girls in every age group said they preferred screen time to reading.” (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/mar/04/give-older-children-story-time-to-halt-fall-in-young-readers-urge-experts)
The research from those two groups alone show a massive shift in our society regarding reading and screen time. What would the stats be now, with the surge of smartphones and apps for the last 7 years?
Last week as I was grocery shopping, I walked by an older male (presumably a grandfather) who with his young granddaughter. He was pushing a grocery cart, with a pink iPad resting in the top of the cart (where a child would sit) TV show blaring, as his granddaughter walked behind it.
Really? You can’t go to a grocery store without an iPad to distract a child? Why not show them the different foods and let them ask questions about what they see? Or just talk to them?
The same thing goes for children in restaurants (and sometimes parents, sadly) sitting at the table with heads down on their phones and tablets, off in another world. Families are being robbed of important communication time and for the children, the knowledge how to behave properly in a social/restaurant setting. The buck stops at the parent. Most often its the caregiver who purchases the cellphone or tablet, therefore you – the parent- have the responsibility to teach them how, when and where to use it responsibly.
As parents and grandparents, we need to wake up to the effects of too much screen time.
One Australia research group stated regarding technology addiction in children:
The excessive use of technology can cause mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. It can also reduce self-confidence, life satisfaction, and emotional stability. Children who are addicted to social media and gaming tend to be tense, unable to relax, and sleep deprivedhttps://www.educare.net.au/technology-addiction-and-implications-for-children
Here’s a statistic about depression and anxiety in children:
Anxiety and depression have increased over time2 “Ever having been diagnosed with either anxiety or depression” among children aged 6-17 years increased from 5.4% in 2003 to 8% in 2007 and to 8.4% in 2011–2012https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/features/anxiety-depression-children.html
8.4% 10 years ago.
Following its previous pattern, that number would have exponentially increased by now – especially with the massive shift in smartphones, apps, and social media.
Our Western society is walking a dangerous line for screen addicted children.
If I am stepping on some toes, I do not apologize because there is no need for this. If your child yells, cries, or whines in a store or Dr’s office, so what? Don’t suppress them with a screen.
They are children.
Sure it may be ‘easier’ to keep them quiet by handing them an device, but is it worth the negative effects of prolonged exposure?
I am a father of four – I know what it feels like to have no time to yourself. The desire to have a moment, throughout the day ( which is often interrupted by someone crying, fighting, and needing my attention ) can be overwhelming. Somedays it feels like I am having the life sucked right out of me.
That does not give me any basis though, for bombarding my child with addicting, non-productive, brain simulating entertainment. I am not talking about an hour a day or an hour ‘here and there’ throughout the day. Maybe you’re sick as a dog and need some recovery time and movies are the way of distraction for the kiddos. What I am talking about is purposely using an electronic device as a parenting tool, and relying upon it regularly.
We need to consciously limit and monitor what our children are taking in, if we want them to have any chance in this tech soaked world.
Children need to play. They need to use their imaginations. They need to socially interact with each other outdoors, playing board games, in sports, whatever.
Cut Back The Screen. As adults, they will thank you.
*If you want to check out XerxesInEaster’s artwork, you can find her on Twitter and Youtube. *
(P.S. I still play video games, and grew up a big video gamer but I thank my Mom and Dad for setting limits for me.)