Sunday, November 29th, 2020

P Shopper Columns



BEHIND A SCREEN




When I was little, a day was full of time, and a summer felt eternal. My brother and I enjoyed an active childhood, and we spent much of it outside. I remember long hours spent fishing by the canal, playing on the swing set, and tossing the hacky sack back and forth in the front yard. We wrestled in the grass and raced the cars that drove by on the street. We swung baseball bats, got Frisbees stuck on the roof, and rescued marooned tadpoles from dried-up puddles. We rode bicycles, kicked soccer balls, and played with dragonflies. When we weren't getting mud stains on our clothes and grass stains on our souls, we were just as busy inside with toys, books, and art. My childhood taught me the difference between tiring my body from play and tiring it from labor- and allowed me to understand the importance of finding a balance between both. But those ways of growing up are becoming lost, and so are the benefits of the adventures such ways entailed.



Technology and its role in the lives of children have evolved immensely over the last decade alone. It has become more and more common to see toddlers clutching phones and for children under the age of ten to have such devices of their own. Electronics have changed the way children access, study, and interact with new information, while also doubling as a source of endless entertainment. But while versatile and engaging, technology cannot substitute for the fundamental experiences of learning to run, jump, race, and play. It cannot offer the exercise and social interaction found at playgrounds, parks, and outdoor activities in general.


If children today
are learning to play differently,
how does this influence
their social skills and creativity?


When technology exists in a child's life without limits, they are in danger of never experiencing these adventures at all- robbing them of a crucial catalyst and outlet for imagination and creativity. If my free time had been occupied by glowing screens, key parts of my personality would be altered. It raises the question: if children today are learning to play differently, how does this influence their social skills and creativity? Is a child's exposure to technology intrinsically connected to the development of these traits? Adults and children alike are using technology more than ever before. While we reap the benefits of these incredible devices, let us also be mindful of how a screen creates separation from what's right in front of us, be it a friend, a family member, or a sunny day waiting to be enjoyed. When it comes to making memories, I've found very few involved a cell phone screen . . . but many began through a screen door.




Breonna Loxley is an animal care technician at an animal shelter. She is an avid artist, writer, and animal-lover. She lives with her parents, a younger brother, two cats, and one dog.