Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards. -- Aldous Huxley
Last night, as I was sitting with the other mothers, watching our daughters at cheer practice, I noticed something that concerned me.
Before I point it out, let me explain that cheer practice is an hour and forty-five minutes long, and as interesting as cheer practice can be (it really does have its moments) most of the moms spend their time doing something to make that hour and forty-five minutes go by a little more quickly. Most of the mothers have a smart phone of one kind or another. Several moms have iPads or fancy eReaders (those lucky ducks), but the thing I find astonishing is that very few of the moms (maybe one...maybe) are actually using that time to read.
The iPads and iPhones are busy playing games. Lots of Candy Crush and Angry Birds going on. Several iPads are playing cartoon videos to keep younger siblings entertained. No one is reading....myself included (shame, shame on me).
And to kind of put this in perspective, cheer practice is EVERY Monday and Wednesday night, AND my daughter has tumbling practice on Thursdays. It isn't like the moms are playing the games or busying themselves scanning Facebook or Pinterest once in awhile, it's ALL the time. There is very little, if any, reading going on.
Now to be fair, there is this one mom who brings a new library book with her to each class (a library book...wow. Who visits the library anymore? I'm impressed).
So what the heck is going on? We amazing humans have created this technology to better enrich our lives. We have the capacity to pluck books from the air (like magic) and download them onto our devices, yet...do we? I'm no better. I'm not. I have three children who each own iPods and I know for a fact that not one of those iPods contain a book. Lots of music and games, but no books. Whenever I've suggested downloading a book, my kids look at me as though I've suggested they become nudists. It's an odd thing, reading a book. They don't see it as enjoyment. They see it as work. (I blame the schools for that, I do, but that's for another post for another day).
My iPhone is filled with books and on occasion, I do read, but not often enough. I need to be a better example for sure.
So what do we do? Book stores are dying a slow and painful death. Libraries are struggling. How do we fix this...or can it even be fixed?
I want you to look around you, where ever you are right now, and notice the people with their iPhones and iPads--on train rides, plane flights, cafe shops, etc...-- what do you see? Be honest. Are people reading or are they playing? Is technology killing off books with its ability to search the web from anywhere and to entertain us with movies and games? Will books be faded out like a vinyl record --things to collected and treasured by the very few? Do we really want to be known as the Angry Bird Era? I don't. I really don't.
I can make a change...but is it enough?
8/20/2013 01:05:07 am
You can't stop adults from solely using smart devices for playing games or the internet but you can with children. In some ways that is why I love the Kindle. You can limit how much time they play or view the web and make it where huge chunks of time can only be spent using the device for reading. Yep they might gripe and complain but just maybe they'll find out that reading is fun especially if they get to purchase a new book once a week. Also you can subliminally encourage others by reading yourself. I guarantee one of those mothers might be curious and boom you have an in to start discussing books.
8/22/2013 05:21:01 am
You're absolutely right. You can't stop adults from doing what they want to do. And true, perhaps if I'm seen reading others may become interested. I'm just worried as a society as whole if we're losing readers and gaining more internet junkies with short attention spans and the need for instant gratification. Kids need to be encouraged to read but in a way that makes it enjoyable and fun. How? Not sure. I'm still trying to figure that out with my own kids. I'm hopeful and will keep trying for sure.
8/20/2013 01:18:41 am
I agree with you that schools are largely to blame for kids not reading, but their second in the blame line. I blame parents first. The joy of reading is just that - joy. Until we coax kids to discover that on their own, and to allow them to read what THEY want to read, rather than having schools force books on them in which they have absolutely no interest, kids will think of reading as a chore.
8/22/2013 05:36:28 am
True, parents are often times to blame. Things can be done to encourage kids to read. Believe me, I've tried many, many different things to get mine to pick up a book--shelves lined with every type of genre, even comic books, and books with lots of pictures, anything--but haven't succeeded. I think, for me, having two children with learning disabilities, who've struggled to read while they were younger, put a damper on the whole reading thing. They don't see it as fun, but as work. My oldest viewed it as a punishment--like having to practice the piano. That is part my fault. But a large part of it does fall on the schools shoulders by forcing AR testing, and making children have to read certain types of books to get those AR points. It has been a struggle in my household since my oldest started school years ago and has continued on ever since. AR testing isn't fun--especially for kids who struggle to read and retain information. This year the schools have decided to do away with the AR system and I'm excited. It may be too late for my kids (I still hold onto hope) but for the younger kids just coming into school, it should be wonderful for them. Read without all the pressure, and read what THEY want to read.
8/20/2013 04:22:53 pm
Yes, I usually have my face glued to my Android, and yes, I do play games. A lot. However, I also have no fewer than four e-reader apps that I keep in rotation, depending on mood. Currently, I have an Erle Stanley Gardner, Spider Robinson, The Dalai Lama, and I usually reserve the Kindle app for whatever freebie book that's held my interest for more than five minutes. Some of those REALLY stink. But you do get an occasional gem.
8/22/2013 05:47:14 am
Lynn, I know you read :) And Yes, you are the exception.
8/26/2013 10:30:56 am
Just wanted to say that your wild west zombie books are very good!
8/26/2013 11:01:03 pm
Hey Todd, Thanks so much for letting me know! That totally made my day :)
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