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Technology has killed Peter Pan

This opinion piece is about 10 years old

Claire Harvey community development officer for Central Scotland Regional Equality Council. She argues technology is stifling young people’s imagination

Video may have killed the radio star but now, I fear, technology is killing the Lost Boys. Games consoles, television, tablets and apps are the new toys and kids today are all about downloading this and streaming that. What happened to Peter Pan soaring through the sky to Never Never Land, or our princesses trapped in dragon guarded towers? What happened to our children? Where did their imagination go and how do we get it back?

I say turn off the consoles, the tablets and the phones and let the young be young

As technology advances and more of our lives are lived through it I have found that children and young people are spending more time on games and applications and less time playing and interacting face to face (as opposed to FaceTime). I believe that one of the side effects of this is that children spend less time using their imagination and make believing. That is not to say that imagination is dead (it's still Santa that brings them the tablets and laptops afterall) but I fear it is at risk of becoming extinct.

When I was growing up I remember quite vividly playing with my friends building dens, playing princesses, hopscotch, tig or any number of games. I never owned a games console, it never really appealed to me but it didn’t matter because I could make My Little Pony fly and my dens were bigger than Cinderella’s castle.

I don’t dispute that some games and apps might be educational, I know some are intended to be exactly that but I do believe that everything should be in moderation, children and young people should be encouraged to look past a screen and to the outdoors and beyond. I also believe they will learn more without this technology, we all managed before it came along after all.

Gadgets and gizmos cannot replace the magical adventures that we take with our imagination and I have found during my work with children and youngsters that with the right encouragement, they will really grow. When I first started the drama/youth group they really struggled to act out anything of their own, instead choosing to act out scenes from their favourite cartoon - one even asked how they were supposed to move like a tree!

Slowly but surely this changed and before I knew it I had the next generation of actors and playwrights standing right in front of me. And the added bonus is that not only are they having fun but they are also learning how to work together, how to communicate, how to share. Show me an app that will teach them that better.

So I say turn off the consoles, the tablets and the phones and let the young be young. Shut away the technology and make a den, get out into the wilds. Let them lose themselves in a far off imaginative land before their childhood and youth is lost to them.

Claire Harvey is Community Development Officer for Central Scotland Regional Equality Council

Disclaimer: The views expressed by non YouthLink Scotland contributors on this site do not reflect the official views of YouthLink Scotland as the national agency for youth work.



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Mark Magnante
about 10 years ago
Not sure that it’s technology which is stifling imagination, it might be worth questioning though the different attitudes parents have to their children playing. There are those that would prefer for their children to be kept busy while they have some “me” time and other parents that are more giving of their time and play games “with” their children.Some form of technology has almost always been used to manufacture games & toys even before draughts were invented in 4000BC, how people play with them continues to evolve also. Young children who don’t know the rules of draughts will still play with them in their own way seeing how high they can stack them.Any toy train purchased these days could be argued as stifling young people’s imagination - it wasn’t that long ago where children from poorer families played with lumps of wood and pretended it was a train. That toy train you just purchased will always remain a train forevermore, but that block of wood could be anything they wanted it to be, a boat, bicycle you name it.I agree, shut away the technology and make a den but remember to switch it back on every now and again to keep evolving your imagination. I can’t wait to see what the next generation will be inventing to play with next!
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