“I worry about how much time my kids spend looking at a screen.”
We’ve heard this more than once recently, perhaps not so surprisingly when you consider how many electronic screens are part of our lives these days. For our kids too, in addition to television, there are cellphones, computers, tablet computers, ebook readers and hand-held video games. Screens are everywhere, even in our pockets! With this kind of availability and often unlimited access to technology, we now see that the average 8-18 year old child in America is spending 53 hours per week consuming electronic media.
We’ve discussed before the value of unplugging from technology and how camp gets kids out of the virtual world of screens and into the actual world of nature. Camp turns off the screens and gets kids actually doing things instead of just watching.
It’s worth underlining another benefit to turning off the screens. It’s the simple fact that by getting kids outside and giving them lots of fun things to do, they stimulate and utilize all their senses. They feel things— mist in the morning, hear things— owls at night, smell things— galax along the trail, and even taste things— s’mores (!), that can’t come from a screen. By bringing all of their senses into play, instead of just their eyes and ears, kids activate and develop their brains in important ways that can enrich their future experiences.
This is another way camp really matters to kids. It’s fun in creative, imaginative, and sensuous ways. It’s stimulating in the best sense.