E+E Column: A virtual world

I was going to write about the summer holidays this week, the six weeks that stretch languidly ahead of every family as the schools break up and children everywhere celebrate the start of a well deserved break. I was going to write about how I mourn the temporary pausing of our weekly groups, especially Forest School, and the loss of structure. I was going to sneakily plug Exeter Forest School (absolutely no shame there though, they are incredible and deserve all the good mentions they get, I’d highly recommend their holiday clubs!). But then I thought that actually the summer holidays aren’t something to be dissected or moaned about. Children (and our hard working teachers) need these weeks in order to relax, reflect on the last academic year of learning and to have fun. Kids need the freedom and space to be kids, free of desks, phonics and bells. 

But this train of thought did leave me pondering about just how different the childhood of my children is to mine and to what a vastly different world they’re living in. Thankfully the summer holidays remain a constant but a lot else has changed. When a toddler can navigate their way around an xbox and a 6 year old can request to go out to hunt imaginary creatures in a game using the latest AR technology, the technological advances that we’ve made over the last few decades are highlighted even more strongly. Those that know me in real life know that I’ve got a bit of a bugbear about kids and ‘screen time’. I strongly feel that we all spend too much time in front of screens and that this is having a negative impact on the younger generations. Ironic given that I’m married to someone who works in (and loves) IT, that the main home ed curriculum we use is online-based and that recently I myself, have found some freelance work doing social media management. 

Not surprisingingly, I’ve had to make my peace with it. I do recognise that technology can and does have many incredibly positive and creative uses and that the connections it allows us can help mobilise people and bring about change. I also recognise that we all need a bit of a down time with our favourite show or video game. And I promise that I’m definitely not criticising Pokemon Go…anything that gets us outside is a plus in my book! But I guess I feel nervous about how this increased use of technology will affect people in the future. We can’t turn back now but the future is unknown and being a control freak, that scares me! I’ve come to the conclusion that all I can do is try and help teach my children how to use technology positively and in moderation, how to switch off and to show them the value of being outside and looking up, not down. I probably shouldn’t worry too much though…of her own accord, Sophia spent this morning successfully learning to knit – no screens needed! 

Fun at Forest School!