I used to visit my granny every Sunday afternoon when I was a child. She would sit me down with various craft supplies, and my favourite thing to make was the cardboard guitar (this was long before my days of actual guitar playing, but clearly I was a musician at heart from a young age!). Did you ever make one of those? You know, with an empty tissue box? You rip off the plastic around the opening, then you cut a hole in one end and stick an empty paper towel roll in it, and then you stretch elastic bands around the tissue box so that they're stretched over the opening, and VOILA! You have your very own guitar that makes wonderful, elastic-y music.
I also remember making cardboard dioramas. Remember those?? I'd make an ocean floor, with fish hanging from the top, a big treasure chest on the bottom, and flashy blue paper as a backdrop.
I was a crafty child. Maybe you were too?
Kids still make crafts today, but I've noticed a slight shift in what exactly kids are crafting.
My best friend's mom is a nanny for these two adorable girls. They're 7 and 9 years-old. They listen to the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus. That's okay! When I was their age, I was listening to the Spice Girls and the Backstreet Boys (and The Beatles and Chris de Burgh and Queen and R.E.M, but I digress)!
But craft-wise? These girls aren't crafting ocean floors and hand-made guitars, they're making cardboard cell-phones and laptops. And don't they have toy cell-phones now, with candy inside? I know they have toy laptops and iPods available for purchase as well. You know, to help get these kids tech-obsessed early on.
Isn't that a little sad? That children want computers and cell-phones when they're 7 and 9? It starts early, man. Kids are becoming as dependent on, obsessed with, and addicted to technology and efficiency as we adults are, and they believe, because they're taught (not necessarily consciously) that indulging in these luxuries is adult, mature, grown-up.
I do realize this is an inevitable, inescapable consequence of innovation, industrialization, and progress. It is becoming increasingly regular and perhaps even necessary for teenagers to own laptops and cell-phones. I'm sure, from a teacher's perspective, computers and laptops make teaching a breeze, but I'm not sure I agree with the concept that teaching should be easy; it's damn hard, and I rather think it should be! Learning isn't easy; why should teaching be? You know, fifteen years ago I was learning how to write in cursive. I was writing short stories and essays on loose-leaf sheets of paper with pens and pencils. Or I was playing outside with my sister, visiting friends and using our imaginations.
What are many kids doing these days? When they're not in school or doing homework, they're playing video games, watching television, and surfing the internet. Maybe they go outside occasionally, but a lot of these kids much prefer to be inside, escaping into virtual, fictional worlds of whimsy. I love kids, I babysit a lot; this is something I've noticed, and I'm not sure it's entirely healthy, even if it is unavoidable and no doubt irreversible.
I'm not saying technological advancement is evil. I just think it's little bit sad and scary that this outlook and behaviour has become the norm. I'm also not saying technology is ruining our children. I definitely don't believe that. My sister and I had a television in our room for all of our childhood and adolescence, and we were perfectly capable of turning off the television, and you know what? We did! We went outside and played tag, or we went for a long walk, or we created imaginary worlds with our toys. My friends and I played role-playing games in the schoolyard, where we were animals or hybrid animal-superheroes. We were not enslaved by technology, and I don't think kids are today. But I have noticed this intriguing, somewhat sad, growing trend, and I do think this is something worth thinking - and maybe even talking with kids - about.
What do you think?