Who needs an iPhone when you have sugar packets?

Nice to see my kids' imagination pop out when faced with a little boredom.

Yup.  Sugar packets.  My kids found themselves a little bit bored and restless upon a recent trip to a restaurant that involved dad in a business conversation with an associate during dinner.  Nothing like a bit of ennui to trigger some creativity from nothing. Knowing full well that there was an iPad and an iPhone for their use nearby if things got really bad, they decided to team up and have a building contest to see who could build the best structure with the pastel colored packets that come handily at each table.

They knew from the get go that dad would be meeting during our family meal, and complained loudly about their mutual dislike of the situation. They also had obvious distaste for having to not only sit next to one another, but to have to share the booth with their dad as well.  That translates into having to sit very close to each other.  Almost touching each other. Quelle horreur!

After a fair amount of mumbling and grumbling and realizing that there was not much that they could do to change the scenario, they finally figured out that they should just make the best of it. And make the best of it they did.  I loved watching them play off and with each other to amuse themselves and make the best of things, especially when they were relying on their imagination instead of with their noses stuck into the usual electronic accoutrements.

I am not a complete nazi when it comes to electronic devices, but as a general rule they are not acceptable at the table during a meal, particularly if you are sharing a meal with relatives and/or friends. But, if it seems to be taking a long time, or if they are not being particularly disruptive, I don't mind them biding their time electronically, within limits.

It is awfully hard not to get caught up in the electronic world that we live in. I found it pretty believable when I was listening to the radio the other day when I heard that social networking sites like twitter and facebook are actually more addictive than alcohol.  The rationalization being: it's relatively low cost, it's extremely accessible, and in the grand scheme of doing things doesn't appear as harmful as most other addictive behaviors. I'm not sure how factual that info was, but I'd believe it.

I admit I have an addiction to my e-world.  I trawl my e-mail and facebook repeatedly throughout the day when I am home.  I was extremely reluctant to get smart phone (my hubby gave me his recently) because I knew it would be very easy to get caught up in checking my phone whenever I heard that little chime that let me know I had some little tidbit of new information waiting for me.  I think I've been pretty good about not being attached to it like an umbilical cord.  But the thought of it becoming too obsessive does scare me a bit.

Being Catholic and in the lenten season, I thought about trying to give up facebooking for lent, but I'm not sure that I would have made it.  I'd have some serious withdrawal without it.  I know it is really good for your soul to unplug every now and then, but 6 plus weeks would be awfully hard for me to swallow. I know it is good to have balance though, and I've been attempting to at least scale back, and have been trying to read more in the absence of electronic stimulation. Oddly enough though, I've been using my kindle, my handy e-reader to do so. Funny that even trying to get away from the digital world, even still has me plugged into it.

I'd like to think that as the weather gets warmer, that I'll be more likely to be out and about and enjoying more of the outdoors.  I know that connecting with the outdoors is one of the best ways for me to spark some creativity, something that I've very much been enjoying tapping into of late. And I must say, I really love watching my kids get into using their noggins to find their own fun, too when I pull the plug on them.

So I guess here's to being a bit more mindful of my e-world, and realizing that as awesome as it can be, it's also pretty awesome to step away from it every now and then. So I better get myself unplugged, and finish up that book I've been reading...

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Ellen Moyer March 10, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Good post. Too often now I see kids of all ages playing with their electric devices when they are out to eat with their parents. I also say NO to this. What happened to good ol' interaction? It's kind of nice to sit and chat, right?
Ann H Csonka March 11, 2012 at 05:53 AM
YES--good post. Often when eating out we see small children with no book, no coloring page, no escape. Long ago I lost count of how many bobby pins and scraps of paper I've used to make a little pinwheel, or some folded-paper distraction. Sugar-packet building is super. The boys look happy. A great-grandson was entertained by using a sugar-container-upside garage for a small toy car. It’s sad when someone sits beside the Potomac staring at a device. WATCH THE RIVER, touch rocks, see reflections of clouds in a puddle or a boat on the opposite shore. We need to rediscover appreciation for the physical world around us...the tree bending in wind, vultures circling over—something--but what? Do we see the changing color of light as a storm slides silently over the horizon, or shadows as the planet rotates beyond sun's glow? People NEED sights, sounds, and scents of changing seasons in woodland or meadow, river or pond. Children especially need tactile connections to nature. Who hears awakening of Earth in spring as mating calls of peepers and other amphibian species fill the night air? Who hears calls of songbirds or puts out crushed eggshells that boost the calcium in a mother bird's system, ensuring stronger eggs for a new generation? How many millions of our children are enslaved to electronic companions or contrived “fun” instead of exploring outdoors? We must sever umbilical attachments to small collections of plastic, chips, and wires... and feel reality.
Barb Welsh March 11, 2012 at 12:40 PM
That's what I'm thinking. There's plenty of time to play DS, but when you are around other people in a social situation, I think's it's pretty important to talk to them! We went on a cruise a while back, and sat near a table of 6 or so tweens/teens and every single meal time, their noses were in their e-devices instead of having fun with each other--seemed to me like they were missing the boat!
Barb Welsh March 11, 2012 at 12:44 PM
I definitely see your point Ann--exploring the outdoors seems like it happens less and less and is not something that should be put aside all the time in favor of electronic distractions. Interaction with other people should also not be forgotten as well. So funny, even adults fall into this trap. Can't tell you how many times I've seen couples out with one another and see the entire time that they are glued to their smart phones instead of talking to one another. Pretty sad.


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