Smallsteps is spending a few hours each day this weekend so that we can get a little bit more of the renovation work done, as it is hard for us both to work simultaneously when she is with us. However, she doesn't go until lunch time and tends to get up around 6am, so we have a few hours to play together or, she plays by herself if she chooses.
She chose to play Twister alone this morning.
But, she and I play a little word game when she is having breakfast, that she enjoys. I describe the attributes of something and she tries to guess it. I start off with very easy clues like, "This animal has black and white stripes" and she demands I make it harder. I then make the tips a little more obscure or reverse the order so that she has to think more and take a couple of guesses.
She lives these kinds of games, laughs a lot it is a great way to spend the time eating. She also makes up her own games as well, which are generally unwinnable. Like the, "guess what I am going to eat next off my plate" game, where no matter what I choose, she will choose something else.
It is funny, as I think this may be common for kids, but one of my older brothers was renowned for this game, where he would ask, "what colour does a blue mouse turn when run over by a yellow steamroller?" any colour chosen was going to be wrong.
It is an interesting game really as the kids have to factor in various aspects as well as think about the consequences of their decisions, although no punishment is involved. Even though there are no prizes, there is still a sense of winning and losing and at least for Smallsteps, she occasionally let's me win with words of encouragement, "Good work, Daddy!"
I wonder if it is to keep me playing - Game theory.
We play a lot of these kinds of games with Smallsteps as not only does she enjoy them, they drive active thought and perhaps a little critical thinking along the way. If she spent her time on a screen watching Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol, there is very little thought required and it is far more passive, as everything the child needs is delivered, including the answers to any questions. I think that if there is only this kind of stimulus, it can create a habitual process of being told or waiting for the answers, rather than searching for the answers. This means mental reliance on an external source, which will drive decision making with very little active and critical internal deliberation.
While I might think too much about this stuff, I believe we are at an unprecedented level of passive consumption and it is being introduced from pretty much birth, in the brain's most active growth period and the time that builds the foundations of personality and thought strategies. I think that while many will discount this as changing culture, it is going to have fundamental impacts on how we behave, some of which we are seeing now, with the rise of victimhood. If one has no ability to control circumstance and find solutions to issues, one must be a victim of circumstance - right?
One obvious example of this is bullying, as a bully will generally target someone considerably weaker than themselves. Looking at just the physical aspect, what is the likelihood of a large, strong child being physically bullied by a smaller, weaker child? But, physical is only one part and a part that is generally reduced as we age, to be replaced by the importance of mental and emotional strength and weakness. It doesn't matter how physically capable a person may be, feeling themselves to be victims of circumstance is unlikely going to lead to a healthy emotional quality of life and will probably impact on a whole range of outcomes, as emotion is a keystone factor in pretty much every aspect of our lives.
It could be that the effort my family put into being relatively analogue in the way we live together, doesn't amount to much. But I also don't see it being harmful, as the skills needed to be a passive consumer can be picked up at anytime, as many of those around my age have managed, considering I was 16 when I got my first PC and 30ish when I got my first smartphone.
If there is a harm, I think it will be in having the critical outlook that will recognize the problems of the world, which can be terrible, unless one also has some ability to work toward a solution of some kind, even if it is in a narrow field. A lot of life's satisfaction comes from being able to create something, but I wonder what happens to this when the average person in 20 years from now has been raised from birth to consume instead.
We can look to the past as an I dictator of the future, but one of the problems now is that the technology we are advancing is going to act in increasing difficulty and ways that are opaque to out view, let alone our understanding. The AIs will be black boxes wither physically or, as they behave in ways we can no longer grasp as humans.
Maybe future life will be better as a consumer who is fed the world view and a directed narrative of what life should be. But, that is something anyone can be and do, meaning the skill of consumption is a low-value ticket item - but what about the skill of creation?
I don't know, but Smallsteps and I have a lot of fun making and playing games together. It is hard to not rely on screens at times, but life itself is increasing in difficulty in many ways, so making it harder whilst having fun seems not a bad way to move forward.
[ Gen1: Hive ]