In a world where it’s becoming increasingly common to hand your kid your iPhone to keep them busy and out of your hair while you do your own things many of the older basic forms of entertainment are falling by the wayside, and taking an unexpected toll on children in the process. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with developing technological literacy in your children at an early age (in fact it’s getting increasingly important) we need to increasingly go out of our way to develop skills that used to be automatically acquired through a daily life that children simply aren’t automatically exposed to anymore.
Drawing, building sand castles, throwing a ball against a wall, playing tag, and climbing trees are all activities that we engaged in as children that are becoming less prevalent and sometimes totally obsolete among children. We like to limit these activities because they’re just “fun” and aren’t considered educational, which is a shame. Learning to use your hands, to run around on uneven ground, and develop general coordination and dexterity are valuable skills in and of themselves.
Encouraging children to develop good motor control will enrich their lives in ways that a fancy new gaming console never can, because building it once lasts a lifetime. It’s part of the “brain-wiring” process and it’s considerably more difficult for “klutzy” adults to adapt than for children. The benefit is that they’ll be much less likely to injure themselves or others when using tools, more successful in sports related activities, and better at expressing themselves artistically. The latter is important to note because it often gets forgotten. Simply having an artistic mind doesn’t provide a person with the capacity to express their idea, which requires dexterity.
A few days ago my internet died at home and I sat and stared at my computer screen forlornly. I sighed and cleaned my kitchen and then sat on my couch, realizing that I had become completely dependent on my computer for entertainment. Being a graphic artist had placed even my creative pursuits on the computer. This isn’t a particularly rare state of affairs for people in our day and age, but it’s not one that we have to pass on to our children. Teaching kids to find ways to entertain themselves without a bunch of tools is a life skill that can not only eliminate needless boredom, but also helps to develop an ability to recognize and appreciate the little things in life. A box of crayons and a sheaf of paper can provide hours and hours of entertainment for drawing, and if that were to be exhausted you can always make paper airplanes or origami swans.
Let’s work together to bring back Legos, ballgames, and children’s art for our kids, so we don’t build another generation like mine, with overdeveloped thumbs from playing video games, poor posture, and an embarrassing inability to do basic things like entertaining ourselves, or handling sharp objects without hurting ourselves.
Edward Stuart is an art and decoration enthusiast as well as an online publisher for Canvas Art. Writes on topics of art, art history, design, and home decor.