June 24, 2018

Why technology is ruining the next generation’s creativity

The fiery red and orange lava bubbles rose up. I jumped from stone to stone, knowing, that if I slipped, the lava would burn me. My life was on the line. Actually, instead of lava, it was my living room floor, and the stones were pillows. When I was a kid, this was my imagination.

Now kids don’t have to imagine the lava, they can see it. They touch a screen to jump from stone to stone. Their imaginations are restricted as they immerse themselves in technology. They don’t need an imagination to play a game.

Imagination is the ability to form mental images using all five senses. Everybody has this ability; but some have more highly developed imaginations than others. It makes anything we can think of possible, which gives us the ability to look at situations from different perspectives.

When I babysit, I ask the kids if they want to go outside. I often get a similar response of moaning and groaning, begging me to let them stay inside to play their video games. This worries me.

When I was younger, my mind was my entertainment. I’d step outside, and I would suddenly be in a jungle. The mud was quicksand and it was better than any video game or TV series. Though I still watched movies, or played Nintendo 64, I never relied on technology as my main source of entertainment.

Webster University philosophy professor, Michael Brady, said he is not anti-technology, but he thinks technology can limit possibilities.

Brady has two children, Abigail and Victoria, who are both in their early 20s. Brady said when his children were younger he noticed that their friends sat in front of the TV for hours and rarely played outside. He built his girls a tree house which became their main source of entertainment. He wanted his girls to have a place where only their imaginations could determine their possibilities.  Brady describes his girls as extremely strong, and says they aren’t afraid to take charge of a situation. He believes playing outside helped develop their sense of imagination. As a result, he finds them to be comfortable in dominant roles.

Why are activities that require imagination, like playing outside, not a main source of entertainment for kids anymore? Do they know how to use their imaginations? Maybe children stopped “seeing the lava,”  and I don’t blame them.

From the time kids today are born, everything they have is virtual, 3D and right in front of them. The games they play today are already designed for them. They don’t need imagination. Before we know it, we’ll be giving books to kids, and they’ll be confused when they touch the page and nothing moves.

“Imagination has to do with possibilities,” Brady said.

Growing up, my imagination taught me how to be comfortable by myself. I was always entertained, which meant I didn’t need a phone to keep me from being bored. I had endless opportunities when it came to what I could do and think about.

What will happen without imagination? Will kids be okay by themselves? These days, children are born into a time where they can pull out their phones to talk to someone every time they get lonely or need entertainment. They don’t rely on their own minds. So what do we do about this? We change it.

We have the power to influence younger generations. It is not realistic to get rid of technology. But let’s make sure kids know how to think without it. Kids need to learn to be okay, by themselves without phones, computers or videogames. Let’s remind them to rely on themselves for happiness, rather than the game in front of them. Let’s tell them stories, and have them draw the illustrations themselves. Let’s make sure kids know how to exercise the incredible gift of imagination. Let’s remind kids they have the ability to make the unreal, real —  using only their minds.

 

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