A social tipping-point? The case for getting kids to Unplug
If this is a familiar scene in your house, then you know why I started Unplugged Adventures…
But allow me to provide a little more color.
Memories are invaluable. Other assets come and go, but memories are durable. And, shared memories are even more valuable.
When I recall my childhood, the most vibrant memories are those from my days exploring the world with my family and friends – hiking in the White Mountains, exploring the woods around our family cabin in the Catskills, and hunting for pirate treasure in the sand dunes of the Outer Banks. I can still feel the icy chill from an impromptu plunge into a glacier-fed lake (or two) and taste the campfire from my New Hampshire summer camp. My hands still buzz from bat meeting ball when I hit my first little league home run.
Accomplishments, and shared adventures and experiences. The “not - quite - fear - not - quite - excitement” feeling of the unknown and experiencing something for the first time. Those memories stay with you. They are gold.
As parents, my wife and I strive to present to our daughters diverse experiences, to expose them to the world around us, and to challenge them to sample new things. We offer them a tasting menu of life. We have engaged myriad family adventures over the years to create memories we will treasure forever. But, I worry that we now stand at a precarious tipping point…
The confluence of mobile devices and “always-on” social media, and the YouTube-driven promise of faux fame, has pushed our children to the brink of a social tipping-point. Like a late-night cup of Ramen noodles, gratification is near instant. And, our kids can’t help it because mobile-social technology is addictive and pervasive.
More concerning, the level of engagement required to tap, swipe, heart, or like something has as much depth as a schmear of cream cheese on a bagel. Relationships, conversations and experiences are thinning. Like a hole in the ozone layer, mobile-social technology is tearing the social fabric of our youngest generations.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am no technophobe. I embrace technology and all the value that it creates. I want my kids to be “tech-savvy” and to leverage technology to improve the world and their lives. BUT… (and there is always a BUT)…
We must find balance.
“[There’s] a great big world out there, my friend. Just three inches up, I beg you.”
Sage words spoken by Owen Wilson's character in The Internship. Too often I find myself staring at the top of a my daughter's head as I wait for a response, my eyes seeking to penetrate both her cranium and her fortress-like focus on her smartphone.
We must empower and enable our kids to engage more with our "great big world" – experience the natural environment, try new activities, work together in teams, engage in real conversations and solve real problems. I worry that without these experiences, an entire generation will emerge from their developmental cocoons socially stunted.
As parents, we must make this our job ALL. DAY. LONG.
Of course, it takes work to plan your kids' day-to-day and weekend activities. Planning special excursions or unique experiences takes even more work. How about a week long vacation? Doing it frequently and consistently can be exhausting. I get it. Sometime we just need to get take-out too.
So let us do the work for you!
Unplugged Adventures was born out of my desire to help other parents unveil for their kids unique real-world experiences, and to help kids and families create lasting memories. My hope is that, by exposing kids and families to our adventures, we might catalyze change and reignite connections with the real world. Together we can begin to repair the social fabric of our youngest generations. Let Unplugged Adventures open the door for you.
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But don't wait for us to get started. The time to act is now. Get out there, create your own family adventures, and make some lasting memories for your kids!