“Screen time” could become a thing of the past.

The article below was recently published on Parents.com. It discusses the way children’s play will change in the future due to changes in technology. Personally I believe this kind of change will only occur if children can move from being just consumers of technology, to being active creators with it. Once a child uses the technology as a tool, the world is their oyster. What do you think?

‘Every toy, or tool, a child has is power in his hands, and the more flexible the tool, the more children are the makers and designers of their experience. To wit: I recently bought my daughter a glue gun. She spent three solid days making a “puffle village” of pom-poms and ice-pop sticks. That simple glue gun opened up a world of possibility, straight from her imagination. Other tools in her arsenal include a digital camera, a sewing machine, scissors, an iPad, a microscope, and a computer. It’s likely that today’s kids who are “digital natives”—meaning they’ve grown up with technology front and center in their life—will make fewer distinctions between physical and digital toys, and see them equally.

“In the future, we will see technology and toys as children do—they are both simply tools for creativity and play,” said Björn Jeffery, a founder of Toca Boca, the digital-toy maker. He added, “My co-founder, Emil, watched his son create a very elaborate movie theater out of Legos. Little Lego people were in rows of chairs all facing forward. Then his son pulled out an iPhone, placed it in the front of the make-believe theater and pushed play. There they sat, he and his Lego friends, watching the movie. Frankly, the versatility of what you can do with technology is astounding and lumping it into one category is too limiting. One day, we will look back at the notion of ‘screen time’ and laugh.

“It’s not about where play is taking place,” adds Jeffery. “It’s what you are doing during play.” There’s a difference between being in command and being a captive audience, he notes: “If we’re creating, perhaps we shouldn’t be thinking about screen time at all.”

As designers continue to explore the possibilities, kids may use technology to nurture their relationship with nature. Imagine a day when your child dumps dirt onto her tablet screen and her device can tell her the soil’s chemical makeup. Someday, she may bring her iPad outdoors to see the way a bee does: A flower in her line of view will change on her screen from, say, yellow, to white with a red center, mimicking ultraviolet light and revealing how bees find pollen.

Moodiness. Restlessness. Strange cravings. Incoherent speech. An inability to focus on tasks that require concentration. Emotional outbursts. These qualities may be used to describe a person on drugs or trying to quit smoking. They also perfectly express what my four-year-old daughter is like after a two hour Disney movie.

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