Sunday, May 11, 2014

Look Up!

I received this text from my 16 year old daughter the other day. She was referring to a powerful new spoken word film by Gary Turk called "Look Up" that urges people to unplug from smartphones and social media and engage more with the people and things that surround us everyday. The film has gone viral on YouTube with over 35 million views.

My friend showed me the video the other week, however my daughter's text struck a cord with me and I watched the video again.  Her words "my generation is sad" really resonated with me.  After watching the video I started to reply via text "Wow...this was powerful, it's not just YOUR generation" I stopped myself mid sentence! She was in the next room...why was I about to respond with my thoughts via text???  In that moment I realized just how crazy it was and that the reality of the video was true, as a society we are losing touch with real connections. I called my daughter (the old fashion way..screaming at the top of my lungs)  into my room and asked her what her teacher and fellow classmates thought of the video. She said that everyone felt really guilty after watching the film. 

I realized that kids today and parents for that matter are consumed by technology ignoring all that is around them at times and we are taken further away from many personal connections with one another.  What a different time it is from when I grew up.  I thought about a recent conversation I had with my youngest daughter about Barbie and this project.  She asked me if they had Barbie dolls when I was her age.  I told her they did and she asked if I played with them.  I told her yes and the look on her face in my rear view mirror was pure shock! She said "YOU" played with Barbie. I said "Yes, Kennedy!" She immediately asked what I did with my Barbie's. I told her that I dressed my Barbie's up and played with them just like she did. She just shook her head in disbelief and mumbled again, "I can't believe that YOU played with Barbie!"  I told her that Barbie dolls were created over 50 years ago by a mom and she created the doll because of her daughter.

Barbie Founder Ruth Handler

Barbie and her history of playtime is so important in this day and age when kids and adults are not playing, interacting, using their imagination/creativity, touching or connecting with each other. I thought about how I stumbled upon Kennedy playing with her Barbie dolls the other week and how she decided to add an elevator to her Barbie dollhouse.  Most times she wants to be on the Ipad or computer playing Minecraft or Poptropica or watching shows on TV. We have to encourage her more and more these days as she is getting older to read a book, play, explore and put down the electronics!

I had no idea that this project, simply following my daughter's playtime journey, would pull in my oldest daughter. In our discussion of the video we talked about the possibility that after her sister's generation (Kennedy is 10)  kids might not want to play with toys and that we might be creating a generation of kids with their noses and eyes glued to technology.  My oldest daughter and I both thought that would be very scary!  She was genuinely concerned for her sister.  I caught a glimpse of a conversation with her sister later that night and she was telling her that she should spend less time using technology.  She actually sat in her room that evening instead of being behind closed doors in her room on her phone/laptop and they talked about different things without distractions .

After her sister went to bed, my oldest daughter and I chatted a little more about the video and I asked her if she knew what social change was. I explained to her that social change was getting to the root of an issue, to find the cause of the problem not the symptom.  We identified that a big cause of the disconnection in our society is our smart phones and social media being so accessible on our phones.  You no longer have to go to a computer to check things it was in your back pocket now, 24 hour of the day.  We both decided to experiment with taking popular social media apps that we spend lots of time on off of our phones and accessing them from our computers instead.  We both thought that this would free up time for us to be more engaged with the family and friends during the day.  You should have seen both of us taking the apps off of our phones! 

Screenshot from my oldest daughter's phone when she took off one of her favorite apps.

 It was really neat to see my oldest daughter taking the lead and really realizing how these things were affecting her.  We plan to both engage more at home versus having our eyes glued to electronics.  I pray that simple things like playing with Barbie dolls will not be lost in the generations to come!  I pray that my daughter's children and grandchildren will experience the simple joys in real playtime not just with devices Continue to follow the journey and revelations that I discover through the Barbie Project by visiting!