Babies, Bathwater, Evil TVs and Creative One Year Olds

As Allen mentioned Tuesday, one of the main influences behind this blog has been the book Flickering Pixels by Shane Hipps. I remember when I first read this book, I was particularly struck by the effects of television on children. Shane talks about how the simple act of watching television, no matter the content, re-patterns the brain. And it re-patterns it in a way that is opposed to reading, writing, and sustained concentration.

A big part of this is because when you read, your imagination does a lot of the work. When you watch something, there is no room for imagination. Your brain is given every last detail. It actually weakens creativity. (pp 77-79)

So since I tend to be pretty level-headed and not reactionary in the least, I came home and unloaded on my wife about the evils of television. We were going to throw them all away because they were keeping our highly creative son from his full potential. I believe he was one at the time and I pointed out how he didn’t play “make-believe” yet and obviously it was because television had sucked all the creative juices right from his brain.

Not unaccustomed to such rants, my wife thought this was a bit of an overreaction. But it was also reflective of the fact that I had not finished the book.

Shane reveals some hard truths about technology. But the thing he points out is that technology itself is neither good nor bad. It is neutral. Yet it does not have a neutral effect on us. Technology shapes us whether we like it or not. But rather than try to get rid of technology altogether, our job is to recognize the way it shapes us and respond accordingly.

That is a major goal of this blog. We want to understand how technology shapes us, and how we use it. Technology is not going away. And it is a major aspect of our lives. So we need to be aware of how it affects us.

We need to be aware of how it affects how we do community.

We need to be aware of how it leads us towards and distracts us from God.

But we want to do so in a way that doesn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. My kid still watches TV. Probably too much.  But he is still very creative and loves to play “make-believe.” He is an expert in imaginary kung fu. We decided not to throw it out entirely.

But it also led to some good conversations. Our family no longer has cable. We try to limit the amount of time we are on technology. We recognized the effects it had on us, and we responded appropriately.

Technology is here to stay, so we need to learn how to use it in a kingdom sort of way.

Have you ever tried to get rid of technology all together? What happened?

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