Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Virtual childhood

I saw a commercial last night for a new toy that left me a little incredulous. It's made a company (who shall remain nameless) I recognize as generally having good toys for kids: fun, developmentally appropriate, and many times educational as well.

They have come out with a new toy, however, that makes me wonder if kids growing up now will remember how to actually do anything in the real world, as opposed to the virtual world. The new toy, through an electronic drawing pad and a computer, allows kids to virtually paint, draw, and create an array of fun crafts including (as shown on TV) a crown and paper flowers.

Hello? How about sitting the child down with a smock, water colors and some paper and letting them have at it in real life? Sure, it's a little more messy, and unless you're using a coloring book, the horses sometimes look like castles and vice versa, but that's part of the experience! Pipe cleaners and tissue paper make great flowers!

Look, in my opinion, kids (and let's be honest, adults as well), spend way too much time in front of screens already. Don't put their art and creativity there as well!

Besides, does anyone else think that by creating art on a computer and then printing it off, kids miss out on the tactile and sensory fun that goes along with arts and crafts? The cool color the water turns when paint colors mix. The smell of crayons, and the feel of the paper wrapping . Holding scissors and trying to make them go the right direction. The sound of stamps going back and forth from ink pad to paper, ink pad to paper. Glue--the smell, the squishy-ness, and the way it peels off your hand like skin when it's dry. The marker-stained hands, arms, and faces worn like a badge of honor for art worked hard for.

Life is messy and meant to be touched, tasted (who didn't taste at least one art supply as a kid?), seen, smelled, heard and felt in many ways. It's not meant to be experienced all nice and sterile in front of a screen.

Excuse me now, I've got to glue some pom-poms and feathers. Just because!

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