Stepping Back into the Real World

The other day as I lay sick in bed with a vicious flu, I must admit I dozed off for a bit hence delegating childcare duties to YouTube.  Well, an hour later as I woke in a daze thanks to a mild overdose of DayQuill, I was shocked to find my 7 year-old in THE SAME spot and position I had left here beforehand. 

Yes! for an hour!

The child had not moved. In a complete trance!

Blankley staring at her tablet screen. Unmoved by the highly annoying sounds echoing the endless looping of mindless YouTube video clips.

What was going through her 7.45 year old mind? Anything at all?

Sitting on her bed in the middle of a fancy room decked out with countless toys, doll houses, coloring books, buckets of shopkins and a bazillion squishy toys, she chose YouTube. 

And why?

What is it about that YouTube power that keeps our kids clicking for hours on end? Endless loops of addictive content – almost supernatural in its effects.

It is magic my friends.

The fantastic algorithm of YouTube – is pure magic! A power that is most evil in nature and is conquering our children.

Traditional wholesome shows that we grew up on and have entertained millions of children through the decades – like Sesame Street or Disney – have been rapidly replaced by kitschy TV content. Their origins are often unknown, homespun and objectionable. ChuChu TV for example, is a mediocre SouthEast Asian channel boasting terrible modern adaptations of classic nursery rhymes. 

Sesame Street has more than 5 billion views on youtube. ChuChu? A whopping 19 billion!

Hmmmm…I feel as if I have entered a sad, alternate universe. Or maybe, I am officially ‘old’?

The new media forms that children are craving out there are fast-moving, infested with crazy colors and irrelevant objects. Mission? Excessive unnecessary distractions.

But why? Reflecting on this, I analyzed my daily dose of ‘screen time’. I sadly discovered that regardless of media form – TV , laptop or phone – I was attracted to stupid content. How could an educated and professional mother of two, spend 2 hours on HULU watching dumb reality shows and a news network with a consistent breaking news tickers – which had no real breaking news at all? Reality shows put me in an intelligence-coma while the news-screens gave me a hyper-eye-migrane…

Stepping back, it was not difficult to make the connection. Whether the algorithms on youtube trick our children or the one on Netflix tricks us as adults, we have been suckered into a risky time in history. A modern era I would ‘scandalously’ label as dystopian – a bad and dangerous era.

In high school, I taught Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (written in the era of dinosaurs in the 50’s :0) about an eerie futuristic time where the television destroys interest in reading literature. Basically all books are banned and ordered to be burnt at degrees of ‘fahrenheit 451’.

No more books, all because TV has taken over.

This Bradbury dystopia I feel, is his foreshadowing of our NOW.

Is our electronic babysitter pacifying us?

We are consciously replacing our need for literature and wholesome programming by dangerously allowing mindless screen time into our lives!

The attached fascinating articles by CNN and the Atlantic have shown that infants to children 8 years of age spend a sad average of 2 hours and 9 minutes everyday stuck to a screen. Furthermore, kids ages 8 to 12 spend a whopping 4 hours and 36 minutes a day attached to their screens.

Moral of this long rant?

Let’s go home tonight and take a long family walk, or visit the library, or play that board game with our kids.

Unglue our children from that toxic screen… Remember that technology was initially meant as an escape from the real world. Yet ironically, we now need to step back into real world to escape the virtual incubus.

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