Wired kids are symptom of bigger societal problem

Thanks for the article by Gail Johnson about the detrimental effect of too much screen time on our children in particular and our society in general [“Experts warn screens affect development”, October 16-23].

I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of the fascination with all things digital comes down to how we as a society see children, how we control and direct them with the things we think they should be doing, and how much we respect and acknowledge the things they care about.

Even compared to 40 years ago, today’s children are far more restricted, monitored, and surveilled. It used to be there were more kids within close proximity, and an attitude that children could and should be outside hanging around with their friends. Now it’s hard to find any kids not overly busy with structured activities and schedules that don’t allow for that kind of spontaneous, creative play.

Computer games, chat rooms, and other social media give the feeling of playing or being with others and allow kids who are kept inside to have this opportunity. I truly believe that until they are really hooked, kids would rather be together with their friends outside, running around. But our lives seem to have become too restrictive, prescriptive, and complicated for this simple kind of childhood.

As well, computer games encourage, praise, and acknowledge kids’ achievements, profoundly adding to their allure. Sadly, this is something many children do not receive in their real lives, especially for the activities and interests that they choose to pursue.

> Donna Jean MacKinnon / Vancouver




Oct 22, 2014 at 1:09pm


I feel so bad for our kids.

When I was a teenager, I was up in the bush. As long as the chores were done, the afternoons were free. And we had motorcycles! And guns! We were 14!!!

Living in the city is better for *me.* I can in theory go skiing, hear a concert and then be horrified by the Canucks in the same day. Great fun for adults.

But the kids, oh no, don't let them go walk to the park by themselves. Don't let them ride their bikes by themselves.

There are reason for that: the local parks are full of shall we say habitual all-day imbibers and the streets are full of people who drive while applying mascara. So we keep them at home unless we are doing a fully-vetted, arranged in advance playdate or monitored, systematized sport exercise ritual.

No wonder so many of our kids gravitate to screens. They can still escape us with their brains. Now we want to take that away. Fair enough, but to what?