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Is the best Christmas gift taking something away?

Is the best Christmas gift taking something away?

We took away all electronic devices from 4 kids for 7 days.

WARNING: You know those disclaimers that say that no little kittens were harmed in this experiment? So there weren’t any kittens, but young children were injured and repeatedly psychologically abused. There is graphic content in this article that might give kids nightmares. Share with caution.

“Wow, that girl doesn’t get off her phone,” my niece said while in the gift shop.

She might not have noticed had she had her own phone because if she had had her own phone, she wouldn’t have been looking up because she would have been looking at her own phone, tapping and texting away just like the girl she was commenting on.

The girl really wouldn’t get off her phone. We watched her walk around the gift shop with what was probably her mother and she didn’t look up but once to look at something her mother wanted to show her. My niece stared at her as if she were an alien, as if to say, ‘How can that girl be so focused on her phone like that the whole. She doesn’t even notice me staring at her.’

Of course, dear parents, we know that this is what we see in our own children mesmerized by their devices. Of course, dear parents, what I witnessed was something of a transformation in human understanding rarely witnessed by the subject itself.

My niece saw through her own eyes how others see her.

We’ve done this experiment before but this time went much more smoothly. This time, however, we didn’t even have the devices with us at all. We left them at home so that even any remote longing or inkling of possibility was removed. We were also on a ship at sea with absolutely zero Internet connectivity or phone service. The devices become much less useful when they’re not connected to the rest of the world.

BONUS: We adults didn’t have our phones for the 7 days either (with the exception on one day on land to call family far away).

It made it easier for the kids to know that we also didn’t or use our phones. We also noticed a distinct increase in attention levels paid to conversations and observations of others as we had lunch or walked through a beach town. We also didn’t immediately share every photo because, well, we couldn’t share every photo immediately. We resorted to actual cameras instead of camera phones and with no way to share immediately, we possibly enjoyed each scene just a little more.

The numbers and reports are still coming in, but it’s safe to say that the experiment was an overwhelming success. Even the kids, yes, even them, reported that they didn’t really miss their devices and enjoyed (well, usually) playing games and watching movies and swimming and anything else we did that didn’t involved craning our necks and squinting our eyes to connect ourselves to our tiny little mobile best friends.

What have your experiences been like going cold turkey with electronics and the kids on vacations? Threats of mutiny? Tears and screaming? Quiet solitary depression? Or maybe even a twinkle of a personality uncovered and allowed to escape and get a breath of fresh air?

  • Possible: surgically implant reverse-magnetic electrical charge to disable all electronics near body
  • Impossible: child voluntarily hands over electronic device
  • Repossible: take away to give


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