Although you will undeniably see many Millennials with their faces stuck to the screen of their smartphones or iPads, they still a generation that grew up without touch screens; with the tactile feel of reading a book made from paper. As the Millennial generation ages and finds themselves with children of their own, there will surely be some concern that their digital native children are not in touch with the real world. While it may not be healthy to shelter your children too much, you can always try and lead them towards activities that allow them to engage with the material world in a meaningful way – rather than filtering it through a screen at all times.
In his book, Tools for Conviviality, Croatian philosopher Ivan Illich makes the point that between commerce and technology, we are increasingly alienated in modern capitalist society. This isolation can lead to depression and despondency, which is ironic since western society is so affluent and secure.
Finding activities in which you can lose yourself, whereby you can build something real and tune in to your community, is more and more difficult these days. Here are four activities that may help your child stay sane in the increasingly shifty terrain of our wired culture.
One key thing that differentiates a book – a real paper book, with pages you can dog ear – from an article online, is that you can’t follow hyperlinks in a book. The act of reading fiction simultaneously increases your capacity for empathy and your ability to focus for long periods of time. Reading to your kids before bedtime when they are young will turn them on to the magic of stories, and with any luck they’ll be eager to develop their own reading skills.
Learning an Instrument
Learning an instrument, much like learning a foreign language, is a great way to help your child’s mind expand and grow strong. Playing in a group setting, like jazz band, is also a great way for your child to learn about team-work and develop social skills. Music lessons at Long & McQuade are always a great option, and if you’re lucky enough to live in a district that still receives funding for school music programs, encouraging them to study music in school is a no brainer.
Painting and/or Sculpting
Music is great, but it’s a bit ethereal; painting and sculpting encourages your child to manipulate solid matter with their hands. As they develop artistic skills they will gain confidence, since the fruit of their labor will gradually improve. As with playing an instrument, making art stimulates a broader, more malleable mind that will be quicker and sharper as your child moves towards college and the real world beyond.
While this may be a bit of a tough sell, as your child grows into a teen, they may show some interest in gardening. Perhaps you could influence your child by promoting other outdoor activities as well like playing with kids ride-on cars or sports. Gardening is the ultimate convivial activity because it forces you to interact with nature and take notice of your surroundings. If your kids develop a green thumb early, it could turn into a lifelong passion or even influence a career choice in the field of agricultural innovation. So pass your kid a trowel, you never know what it might lead to!