Stepping into the car the other day, my daughter asked her new favorite question – “Can I play on your iPhone?” She loves to play strategy games like “Where’s My Water” or “Doors” when we are in the car. The games are great-no objectionable content, good content (problem solving skills)-but…I really hate that she is so “wired”, so young. I can’t blame her, really. My wife and I have iPhones and are connected more frequently than we ought to be. Her friends play on iPads, iPhones, Wiis, etc. The topic of texting has even come up once or twice (she texts with her grandparents, already, on our phones).
I have an intense feeling that my daughter is losing something important. Bent over the screen, interacting with the programmer’s script just doesn’t seem like childhood to me. While we actively monitor the time and the content my daughter interacts with, digitally, we are doing more. My wife and I are trying something different-a throwback, to my parents’ childhood experiences.
Last night, we all sat down in the living room, grabbed pillows and blankets, and turned on an audio book-this time, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. We sat and listened to the end of the story (we had started it in the car) and spent nearly a half an hour talking about Sara Crewe and why she was a princess-both when she was rich and when she was poor.
Reflecting on the night, my wife and I decided that “throwback night” will become a part of our family routine. The experience itself was not without irony-we used technology for our “throwback night”, listening to the book using Audible.com’s iPhone app (and I blogging about it, now)-but it was very satisfying.
Rather than letting technology separate us into individuals, we used technology to create an intimate experience that we shared as a family.