One of my daughter’s favorite activities is to binge-watch her favorite series on Netflix. She’ll spend hours in front of the TV screen watching one episode after another, hardly moving except when absolutely necessary.
If one of my kids isn’t lounging in front of the TV, their eyes are equally glued to another screen. It is usually a phone, and my children are streaming, scrolling or reading as they devour tons of online content specially curated for them.
As a parent, I have to admit I’m worried about their generation. I’m concerned not only about the effect such lengthy screen time has on their health but also on other aspects of their lives. And unfortunately, these days it’s common to hear about kids being addicted to the internet and getting hooked on stuff like social media, porn, and even gambling games.
While internet addiction is certainly terrible, what effect does endless consumption of curated content have on our kids?
Curated Content and Brain Stagnation
Whenever I see my kids’ binge-watching some series, I can’t help but remember my own childhood. We never had cable growing up, so my siblings and I only had a limited number of channels to watch. Once our favorite shows were over, we had to wait for the next day or week for the next episode to air. It felt excruciating, so what did we do?
We reenacted the scenes, had intense discussions and debates about what would happen next, and even had arguments about it. In between episodes, we watched other shows like the news, sat through documentaries and expanded our view of the world.
The same thing was true with our reading material. Oftentimes, we had to make do with what we got at the library and at our relatives’ houses. By the time I was 12, I had a pretty varied reading repertoire.
Kids these days are lucky enough to have all the entertainment they want at their fingertips. They can get what they want when they want it and therein lies the problem.
Since they can get curated content with ease, they rarely venture out of their comfort zones to discover new likes and dislikes. Their lives lack the natural randomness or serendipity that can lead to interesting discoveries. Also, many of today’s modern kids are only fed what suits their interests, and that’s it.
Having bespoke content on demand also means that imagination and creativity are curtailed. Kids nowadays can watch their favorite shows at a go, and they can access all their favorite books at the touch of a button. Thanks to being armed with all kinds of devices, there’s minimal risk of them ever getting bored.
Boredom Is Important For Children’s Imaginations
As it turns out, boredom is actually a good thing. Studies have shown that bored people tend to look for activities or sights that stimulate their brains and are prone to coming up with new creative ideas.
It’s sad that our kids might miss out on the wild imagination and creativity that makes childhood such a delight.
Having my kids constantly surrounded by their preferences doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but I can’t help thinking that it comes with a catch, and it might not be worth it in the end.
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