The more connected we become, the more connected we are forcing our children to become. Of course it’s a good idea to give Junior a leg up on the competition by making sure he’s tech-savvy at a young age. But where do we draw the line? At what point do we remember to put down the computer mouse or mobile device and get that kid outside on a bicycle? When do we remember that it’s just as important for them to tie their shoes and learn how to call emergency personnel if needed?
A recent study shows some very unsettling results: more small children can play a computer game than ride a bike. The Digital Diaries study from security firm AVG claims that 58 percent of kids ages 2 to 5 know how to play a “basic computer game” – compared with 52 percent who know how to ride a bike. More than sixty-three percent can turn a computer on and off by themselves with 69 percent able to effectively use a mouse. Sadly, though, only 20 percent know how to swim, 11 percent can tie their shoes without help and 20 percent know how to make an emergency phone call.
Other interesting findings are that 25 percent know how to use a browser, 16 percent can navigate between Web sites, 15 percent know at least one Web address, and 19 percent know how to operate a smartphone or a tablet. On the analog side of life, 39 percent know their home address, 27 percent can make their own breakfast, and 37 percent can write their first and last name.
In an interview, AVG’s Tony Anscombe said “Because we (adults) are so connected, maybe what we don’t understand is what we’re actually doing is connecting our children the same way, and it’s becoming normal for them and maybe we’re ignoring some of those life skills as well.” I find this absolutely disheartening. As I already pointed out, we all know our little darlings need to learn how to use technology at young ages. However, they also need to know how to cope with life, folks.
Many of these simple things pointed out in the study are those which should be taught by dear old Mom and Dad. I remember learning to ride my bike for the first time, with Dad holding onto that seat and running along beside me. I also remember how I felt as though I could conquer the world when I mastered shoelace-tying long before many of my friends did.
There needs to be more of a balance – MUCH more. Pull the kiddies away from the digital goodies sometimes and take them outside. Head to the local pool or park. Show them firsthand that you don’t have to bury your nose in a device in order to have fun.