In a world where electronics take over children’s playtime and adults attach themselves to cell phones, TV remotes and computer screens, how can we ensure that our youth won’t turn into imagination-less electronic junkies?
According to Bill O’Driscoll, the average American child spends 44 hours per week using electronic media. Kids are able to juggle multiple fast paced electronic games at a time, receiving stimulation from a variety of screens, and then they’re expected to sit (mostly) in silence in a classroom for hours. More and more children are being diagnosed with conditions like ADD and ADHD, and when we look at how different their experiences are today compared to even ten or fifteen years ago it’s no wonder why there are major issues.
Luckily, we are realizing the value of play minus the electronics. One fantastic example that’s catching fire on the Internet is a couple who decided to turn an extra bedroom with a wardrobe into a scene from the classic children’s book about the fairytale world of Narnia. They did so by placing a wardrobe in front of the entrance to the room and cutting out a small child-sized opening in the back of the wardrobe, effectively creating a doorway to the small room beyond.
If the concept of the hidden room wasn’t already cool enough in the first place, the parents then painted the inside of the room Narnia themed, including a painting of Aslan (the Lion from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”) on the wall opposite the entrance. Efforts like this effectively engage children into more physical forms of playtime, while stimulating their imaginations and even encouraging them to read books rather than reach for the nearest gadget.
Ayja is a recent Santa Clara University graduate who double majored in Environmental Studies and Music and minored in Creative Writing. She grew up in Sandy, Utah, and spent her childhood skiing, rock climbing and hiking in the Wasatch Mountains. Now living in Palo Alto, California, Ayja spends her free time reading, writing, running, and researching sustainable efforts around the world. She’s passionate about sustainable agriculture, international development, and environmental education, and hopes to combine her passion for writing with her love of nature and travel.