I have commented on this before, but after seeing the change in so many campers this past summer, I must say it again: iPhones, tablets and social media are not very good gifts for a youth or children. They are a vice—a disorder and distraction—-at the least, and as I see it stands in the way of a child growing up like he/she should. Kids don’t need them, but of course my kids do not agree with me.
After the campers went home this summer, their parents praised our camp for the positive change and emotional and spiritual growth they saw in their children. But their positive outlook, happiness and excitement was more because they did not have access to their computers, iPhones or social media than anything profound that happened here. With those little devices absent or turned off, the campers were able to hear, see, feel and and engage in all that God created. The devices they clutch so tightly in their hands cause them to remain deaf and blind to all that’s going on around them and they cannot hear God’s nature “communicate” to them.
I have watched smiles return to the faces of children as they got used to not having a little piece of technology at their finger tips; they learned a new skill, picked up a baby duck, pet a wolf, or competed in an egg toss or corn-hole event. In some regards parents that allow their kids to have tablets and computers make it easier for us to care for their children by plugging them up to the internet for most of the year, because when they come to camp they experience a place where they are forced to imagine, listen to stories, acquire skill that does not include keyboard(!), etc. for the first time. They are required to engage with other kids, use their minds to create and their hands to fashion. In effect they begin to experience life as God intended—-and of course they are happier because of it.
Yes, there’s a place for all of this technology, and yes, many parents do depend upon these devices to entertain their kids (or serve as a baby-sitter), but inevitably it seems that when the electronic toys are removed, an initial depression and a lack of knowing “what to do” falls upon the child until they are offered something that allows them to use their God-given gifts and talents.
Too often parents look for someone (or something) else to do the job of parenting. Some folks never “counted the cost” when they decided to have a child in the first place, but raising a child is an opportunity to expose them to all things beautiful, exhilarating and of good report; kids soak up whatever they’re exposed to. It’s one of the best reasons to support Christian summer camps. Please think about that.