*Five Minute Friday is an initiative set up by Lisa-Jo Baker over at Surprised by Motherhood. It has now been taken over by Kate over at Heading Home. The basic premise is to take the word Kate gives and write, non-stop for 5 minutes. Then you stop and post. Read more about it here. This October, I am taking part in a series based on this called “31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes”, in which we commit to writing from the prompt as usual, but everyday rather than just on a Friday. Read more here.
Having done a fair bit of professional and volunteer youth and schools’ work in my time, I’m no longer surprised by kids’ inability to be silent these days, but I am still saddened by it.
Having just made it into the 80s, I can still just about remember what it was like to not have constant access to technology – to have no computers, mobile phones, video games, internet or satellite TV. And while I often wonder today what I would do without some of these things now, I feel I am truly blessed to have known a time in my life without them, however short.
Because I feel for young people who have grown up with these things readily available, constantly accessible. We tell them they are lucky to grow up in this enlightened age, but I’m not always sure that is true.
Young people today face higher rates than ever before of obesity, depression and a host of other mental health difficulties, and pressures that I could not even have imagined facing as a teenager.
I can’t help but think that the constant distraction, the constant noise, the constant need for entertainment is in part responsible for this trend. I personally find this in my life – it is in taking time away from it all that I feel my soul breathe, that I feel peaceful and happy again.
But as technology progresses this becomes harder and harder. More and more can, and is, done online or on our smartphones. Suddenly this one item is capable of doing most of what needs to be done in our lives. Lines between work, play, family, friends, money, housework, planning, food, faith all become blurred.
Even as we leave the house we are drowned amidst the noise of cars, bright billboards, enticing shops. And of course, the smartphones that carry with us our personal noise – our music, social media, work and communication. We have never been more connected. And we have never felt more isolated.
Although between laptops and phones our family is certainly not immune, my husband and I made a decision when we got married to not buy a TV and to try and have regular technology-free time in our week. It’s still easy for us to get lost in the noise of technology, but even something as simple as not having our sofa pointed at a television screen makes a little difference in our technology consumption. And a little is something…
Now that we have children, this is even more important to us. Midwives and health visitors comment occasionally on how focused our daughter is, and I believe that a limit on her exposure to screens and technology in general in our days together really does affect this. I want her to learn the value of silence, of prayer, of contemplation. I want her to be able to appreciate it, because I believe strongly that it is one of the few things I can give her to equip and protect her from the world she will grow up in. If she can understand the importance of contemplation, if she can sit in comfortable silence and doesn’t need to be constantly entertained or distracted, I believe she will be better off for it.
I know I always am when I make the effort to unplug regularly!