Books vs TV: Literature's Losing Battle
Growing up, I was allowed one half hour of television per weekday. If there was something else on that I wanted to watch, I had to tape it and watch it on the weekend (when I had an hour each day).
On playdates, my friends and I ran around the neighborhood playing pretend and exploring. We biked to the local candy store or to the playground at school. My parents didn't let us watch television on playdates; they were for playing.
My brother, just five years younger than me, spends a great deal of time playing video games and social networking on the computer. And while he does play outside, it's not the hours- of- playing- until- it- gets- dark that I used to do.
It feels like TV and video games have taken over. Granted, it's taken a good ten to fifteen years, but I think it's finally happened. I shudder to think what my kids will be doing for fun fifteen years from now...
The problem is that television and video games take away a great deal of the wonder of childhood. Reading a book, you have to fully engage your imagination. You have to connect the letters that you are reading to a full image, a whole world that you've created on your own. Television hands that to you.
Everyone is always saying that Generation Y wants everything handed to them, and I think that this is why: everything is being handed to them in their recreational time. They don't have to work to get joy from a plot; they merely have to sit back and let the movie take them there.
And it's not lazy parenting, it's just parents having no idea of how to cope with the overwhelming influence of the digital age. It wasn't around when they were kids so they don't know what it feels like to be addicted to video games (and many, many kids are). Similarly, Generation Y doesn't know what it's like to have only the option of relying on your imagination and being forced to play with neighbors and explore the neighborhood.
Enjoying books makes children smarter by engaging parts of their brain that nothing else does. We can only hope that there is some sort of backlash against this digital takeover so we can get kids back to reading.