How will our kids share stories about their childhood? Will they tell their kids that their most prominent memories were watching TV episodes on You Tube or the high scores they reached playing video games?
With the Christmas Holiday Season coming up, I went online to see what gifts the "experts" recommend for families and for teens. I also took a trip to the local toy store to see what is available for kids 2-12yrs. I found the options more limiting than I had expected.
Suggestions for families were along the lines of all-in-one remote controls, digital photo frames, camcorders, Wii game consoles, flat screen TVs, sound systems, Netflix boxes, all-in-one computers, and Sony Playstations. This is quite the expensive list for some family budgets.
Suggestions for teens included clothes, make-up, gift certificates, and gadgets. Aside from the costly gadgets, my experience with my teens is that these are all misses. Personal styles are very individual as their emerging identities seldom experiment outside of their fashion sense. Gift certificates become meaningless and are relegated to the plastic junk pile almost immediately. And the gadgets – don't teenagers have enough of these already?
The toy store echoed similar results for me. Its shelves were stocked with ideas for kids but my conclusion sheds a glaring light on the staggering levels of recycled brands from up to 30yrs ago. The girls' section consisted of Cabbage Patch Kids, Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, and Barbie. The latest brands are packaged in the form of Polly Pockets, Disney Princesses, and Bratz dolls that have generously been around for nearly 20yrs. The boys' aisles boasted GI Joes, Star Wars figurines, Hot Wheels, remote control cars, and Lego. If my memory serves me well, the last 'new and all-the-rage' toy was Tickle-Me-Elmo from over a decade ago that created news headlines worldwide. By my observation, this giggling, battery-operated furry monster was the craze of the season for parents but seemingly not as much for the kids... These are still available.
Aren't today's plugged-in kids different than they were 30yrs ago? Could it be that the toy manufacturers are on a losing streak with modern technology and could this be why kids don't 'play' anymore? I'm just not surprised to hear fellow mothers express that their kids have little, if any, interest in their toys.
Beyond that, most of the suggestions above encourage the gift recipient to be alone for extended periods of time. While healthy doses of solitude are important, has it become too easy for a child to remain occupied in isolation with their default digital addiction? I find it disconcerting that years from today, our kids may not be able to share stories about our origins, beliefs, lives, struggles, and joys. Will they tell their kids that their most prominent memories were watching TV episodes on You Tube or the high scores they reached playing video games? I don't have to be an expert to see something is amiss. There's a clear disconnect developing that could be improved – for you, for me, and for future generations even though the digital era has no intention of fading anytime soon. How can we blend these vastly different worlds to be both positive and influential?
By reintroducing time...
GIFT SUGGESTIONS FOR THE SPIRIT OF GIVING TIME
(please click on the PDF downloads below)
Family Teens 9-12yrs 5-8yrs 2-4yrs
Yes, your given time in this fast-paced generation can balance this modern trend. We are so busy with work, school, extra lessons, etc, it takes effort to slow down and spend one-on-one time to really get to know our children's thoughts, dreams and aspirations. I am not of the belief that giving time is a faux pas and, therefore, I have compiled several lists with gift-giving ideas that have been well received regardless of the occasion. Gifts that support ultimate interaction, inspire, educate, and build memories are all high on my lists. They are also age-appropriate and affordable. It is my hope to soften the high-spending pressures for toys and gadgets and to genuinely inspire moments for sharing precious time.
Time. This year can be about the spirit of giving quality time: for developing children's experiences, skills and cherished lifelong memories.
And for a more connected future. •
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