R We teaching our Children 2 B Dumb?

 I don’t want to raise ungrateful kids.

I don’t want to raise unhealthy kids.

I don’t want to raise kids with low self-esteem.

And after having dinner last month with internationally renowned children’s singer and advocate Raffi, I realized also I don’t want to raise unintelligent kids either.

Before meeting Raffi, I had no idea about his life without a guitar. But he is a busy man! Aside from still singing and thrilling crowds, he is a huge advocate for children, founding an incredible Centre for Child Honouring: www.childhonouring.org, and even personally challenged Facebook to better protect our children.

But what brought us together was his new book “lightweb/darkweb: Three Reasons To Reform Social Media Be4 It Re-Forms Us“. (*a must read for any parent and/or child educator worried about the impacts of the web!)
This book is an intelligent, well-researched, thought-provoking book about the internet, social media and the effects on our children.

The internet has so many wonderfully positive uses – the ‘lightweb’, but alas, there is also incredible darkness and potential harmful impact to our families – cyber bulling, enabling predators, pornography, etc.

One of biggest revelations I wanted to share from my time with Raffi is that the internet is making my kids dumber. Yes, it’s true. I can see it. Let me explain.

For years, the internet, social media, television, and video games have been accused of many faults; shortening attention spans, over stimulating us, under stimulating us, causing sedentary unhealthy lifestyles/“fat kids”, and creating a need for instant gratification. But is it making us all dumber? How could access to so much information make us dumb?

The internet and social media encourages shallow thinking. We skim the article, get what we need, and never go deeper. Similar to a comparison of McDonald’s Fast Food vs. Momma’s home cooked meal; which one will sustain you longer? We are always in a hurry! The skills of critical thinking, logic, problem solving never develop in a fast food mentality.

Yet, our kids are surrounded by all this technology. “Screen time”, the buzzword of our era, is a reality of many families. “Too Much, Too Soon, and Too fast” is the best way to sum up how I feel.

Studies have proven that as screen time increases, happiness decreases. Kids must unplug and get outside, interacting with each other and our environment. Too many kids suffer from what author Richard Louv calls a “nature-deficit disorder”. They don’t play until the streetlights come on anymore, they play until their device is dead and needs recharging.

While its unlikely that we can go “all-Amish” and totally disconnect from screens and the Web, but as Raffi points out, “If we change the beginning of the story, we change the whole story!”

But how much screen time is too much? What is acceptable? Studies show kids between 8-18 years of age spend over 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen.

Could you reduce the screen time to less than 2 hours a day as many experts suggest?

Remember, for a bit of perspective, some parents spend less than 7 MINUTES a day in meaningful dialogue with their children!  Babies shouldn’t be in front of Baby Einstein on the TV or Ipads. They should be in front our faces! That is FACE-TIME!  Let’s stop the screen time insanity!

For one month, try unplugging technology and plugging into your children lives! Spring is here, let’s all get outside and play.

If I want to raise intelligent kids, I need to be a present parent – there is NO APP for that!

Until next time…

Here is a link to Raffi’s interview with Jian on CBC’s “Q”…

PS… My dinner with Raffi was definitely memorable for many insights I learned from this great man, but also when he decided to sing “Baby Beluga” to our unborn child!

Jeff and RaffiBaby Beluga