As summer begins and kids get out of school, various versions of “summer rules” are floating around the Internet. It’s a way to set expectations for a time of year when it can seem that all rules are off.
This one, from the Thirty Handmade Days blog, is typical. Its purpose, according to the creator, is to keep the kids from spending the whole day glued to a screen so they earn the time with their gadgets while spending time reading, writing, creating and playing outside. I like the spirit of it but something felt off, based on my own use of electronics.
For instance, I often use my device to read and write. I’m writing this blog post on my laptop. I often carry my phone on a dog walk, partly for safety, but also in case we happen upon something interesting that I want to record like an unusual bird or flower. I imagine that kids might want to do the same: create a video of the rules for a game they created or do some macro photography of bugs or butterflies. As for creating, I often reference the Internet for ideas or directions for things to my projects. I’m participating in the DS106 June 30 Day Daily Create Challenge. The goal is to be digitally creative by providing a new challenge each day and move us away from just “like buttons on Facebook or retweeting other people’s memes.” The tools we carry with us offer almost infinite possibilities for creativity but if we don’t help kids see that, then they will rush through the other items in order to be able to settle into the consumer pull of those same devices.
And, I understand that concern. We certainly don’t want the kids to spend the whole summer playing video games or watching movies, never lifting their heads or hands to interact with the real world. And, as Mique says, every family has to do what makes them comfortable. I would just like to see a more integrative approach to technology, finding ways to use it as part of our other activities. Maybe that is what she meant but this seems a little too much like the classroom where the kids only get to use the computers when they do everything else. Electronics shouldn’t be a reward but a natural part of our daily lives.
I also can’t help but wonder if these rules apply to parents, too?