One in three kids now learn to use a mobile phone or tablet before they can talk. And, 29% start using gadgets as toddlers and have likely mastered them by primary school.
While technological know-how has increased for these youngsters, basic life and motor skills have taken a backseat. It used to be a childhood right of passage to learn to ride your bike without training wheels. Over the last decade, this once-beloved childhood activity has seen a 20% decline in participation.
It is a curious thing, then, when something like the Rainbow Loom rubber band bracelet making kit hits the scene and becomes the hottest activity for kids all over the country. There is no touch screen. No USB port. No batteries, even.
Just the plastic loom with its rows of carefully calculated pegs, a hook and a few bags of colorful rubber bands.
Kids are hungry for activities that will engage their minds and bodies in ways motion controllers and virtual worlds can’t. They don’t even realize it, but they are craving very elementary life skills childhood is supposed to teach. Basic motor skills. Social and emotional skills. First-hand, in-this-world engagement.
No tablet or smartphone can replace:
The nervous, excited and wobbly first bike rides after the training wheels have been taken off. The overwhelming sense of independence as you zip down the street, wind in your hair, pedaling like a maniac.
Nor can they replace:
Feeling like a total creative genius after successfully completing a new bracelet on the Rainbow Loom. Blowing your own mind by creating a new pattern. Feeling your heart grow at least one size after seeing the smile on the loner kid’s face when you give him the bracelet you made.
Tech devices have their very important place and aren’t going anywhere. However, instead of altogether replacing real-world lessons from childhood, find ways to combine them with hands-on activities, like the Rainbow Loom. Use the computer or tablet to watch instructional videos to learn new techniques or share your new creations with the world using #michaelsrainbowloom.