Computers, tablets, smart phones and other types of digital screens are everywhere, bombarding us and our kids on a daily basis. Well-meaning parents buy these products for their kids, load them with educational games and then encourage their kids to spend hours on them. Yet, is this what is really best for our kids? Whatever happened to imaginative play? The market for tech toys is taking over, and both our kids and the environment may be suffering as a result.
Kids Are Overwhelmed by Screens
On average, a child will spend 73 minutes a day playing video games. That is quite a bit of time, especially when you consider that much of the day is spent in school. Yet, video games are just a small fraction of the tech toy marketplace. Parents are spending a fortune on playthings that have buttons and touch screens. This past Christmas, the tech gadgets cornered the toy sales market, and kids were not complaining in the least.
Yes, there are some benefits to these playthings. They do make learning fun and put it in the hands of most kids. Yet, what happened to the old fashioned type of play? The fact is, computers and tech items are bad for the environment, and some could argue that they are not as helpful to children as we think. This over-emphasis on digital playthings for tots is leading to a greater impact on the environment, even while dulling the imaginations of young children.
The Environmental Impact of Tech Products
On the surface, the tech toy revolution seems to be a good, modern thing. Yet, what is the real impact? If you look at the environmental impact, it’s pretty big.
Each year, computers and all of the tech related equipment used to run them are responsible for about 2 percent of all global cabin dioxide emissions. That may seem like a small number, but stop and think that this is equal to the estimate for airplanes. Not only that, but old computers and worthless tech products end up in landfills, where they take up space and leach toxic chemicals not the soil. The global impact of computers is quite large, when you look at what they do to the environment.
Alternatives to Computers May Be Better for Kids
Today’s kids probably need some computer time to be capable adults in a tech-heavy world, but there are alternative playthings as well that can, and probably should, turn their attention away from the screens more often. Consider the tried-and-true Tonka trucks, for example. Give a group of kids a big, heavy truck and they can play for hours, especially if they have some dirt to push around. Baby dolls are another plaything that beckon and offer hours of play time for youngsters. Little ones can play house and pretend to be mommies and daddies, learning valuable baby care skills while using their imaginations. You can even give kids a pail, shovel and a spot of earth to plant their own garden, and watch their imaginations and thinking skills improve naturally.
Today’s kids have such highly regulated schedules that they are missing out on the chance to use their imaginations and simply play. Directing them away from the screens and to toys that encourage creativity and imagination can help you make a difference for them, all while doing your part to protect the environment at the same time.