This is Not a Box!?

How many times do we hear parents say, “My kids love playing with the box more than that toy!” I have fond memories of using boxes to create a fort or a car or pretty much anything I wanted. I loved using my imagination and turning the “ordinary” into the extraordinary – or at least what I thought was extraordinary!

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As I sit and reflect on the debate, Is Social media is ruining childhood,ย  from this week, I can’t help but remember all the ways I loved to play and explore as a child.

There is something about a cardboard box and a child’s imagination that is magical. If you haven’t read “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis and you have kids, do it! Do it now! It’s a great story to read with kids and ignite some creativity and not a boximagination. At some point each year, I have some boxes available for my students during centre time and they get to imagine, create and play. After all a box is just a box until it’s not a box!

Photo creadit: Amazon

This week our debaters Amy, Logan, and Carter vs. Ellen and Elizabeth did a great job bringing forward arguments and resources for both sides to the debate. So, is social media ruining childhood? Is the box really just a box now, because there is no one left to play with it as we all sit on our devices trolling social media?

There are many harmful ways social media is affecting children today. Many children have been endured online abuse and are victims of cyberbullying. There is also an increase inย 

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mental health issues in children because of stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation caused by social media use. There is research that suggests social media is changing the wayย we communicate and a focus on quantity instead of quality when it comes to what is being posted.What will happen if children continue to use social media and continue down this damaging path? I believe a lot more harmful affects will occur UNLESS teachers and parents step in.

 

Elizabeth said it well in her blog post:

However, the more I study social media, the more I read about it, and the more I see it in the schools, I begin to understand that perhaps the best way to protect our kids is, in fact, presenting them with what exists. Showing them the world, focusing on the good but not hiding them from the bad. This is the new childhood; I need to embrace it to use it advantageously for our students.

We need to encourage children to have a balanced childhood where they can enjoy playing outdoors with friends and improve their social skills, but also learn about and enjoy technology. I agree with Anthony’s article that parents and teachers need to educate children about outside influences and, “give them a little freedom to be their own person and reign them in if they are trying to be too much too soon“.

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Photo Credit @ Denovati

Social Media has many benefits for our youth today. I like hearing realistic suggestions and reason and I found Sheenan’s “5 Reasons Why Social Media Might Actually Be Good for your Child” to be a quick read that was down to earth and realistic. His five reasons were as follows: allows children to keep up with friends, collaborate with school mates, discover new interests, get prepared for the future, and get creative. He also reminds us that children need a coach and mentor and shouldn’t be working alone on social media. That is when the problems arise.

Randi Zuckerberg has a lot of great points in her article “Childhood Isn’t What it Used to Be” The world is constantly changing and evolving, which is great… it’s what we want to happen. For change, positive change. Randi speaks about our children now living in three worlds:

“the real world, the imaginary world, and now, more increasingly, the virtual/mobile screen world. When used mindfully and sparingly, this third world can add a whole new dimension of creativity, education, and delight. But when used mindlessly or as a default, we run the risk of this new virtual world creeping into the time kids would have spent using their own imagination and creativity.”

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So what becomes of the magical box? Social media provides a way to stay connected to family members, to learn and grow, and to explore new concepts and ideas. As long as we use it with guidance and in moderation, so that we can still have time for making something out of nothing, I think childhood is going to not only survive but continue to thrive in our technology driven lives.

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12 thoughts on “This is Not a Box!?

  1. Great reflection Lisa!! I love your reflective line “Is the box really just a box now, because there is no one left to play with it as we all sit on our devices trolling social media?” How many pictures of the boxes do we have or video of it instead of just playing in it. Life really is what you make it ๐Ÿ™‚ So looking forward to finishing up classes to have the time to enjoy creating fun from what’s all around us.

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    • Thanks Stephanie. Hope more people see the value in using technology/social media in moderation so that children still do have the opportunity to use their imaginations in the physical world and not just the virtual world.

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  2. Nice post Lisa. I really liked your analogy of the box. My 9 year old son has been spending a bit more time on Xbox the past few weeks than I would like and I was starting to worry that he hasn’t been engaged in enough imaginative play. Tonight he sat down on his own with a set of markers and some paper and created an entire role-playing card game. Some of the elements were drawn from the computer games he has been playing, but a good majority was created with his own imagination. It gives me hope that kids still can see beyond a box just being a box.

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  3. Great post, Lisa! Thanks for the shout-out too. I appreciate how you take such a balanced approach to this topic and you weigh all options. Just as we need to embrace social media to match the evolution of childhood, we also need to embrace other aspects of childhood, including encouraging further imagination on the child’s part. 100% of anything is not perfect, but a balanced approach to childhood and technology is essential to truly evolve with it.

    Thanks for the post!

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    • Thank you Elizabeth for you input and additional reflection! Balance is hard to find… especially because balance for me is different than the balance for you. Everyone’s balancing scale will look different and it will constantly be changing as the grow and learn ๐Ÿ™‚ Finding a balance… It’s exciting, yet a bit terrifying at the same time! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. Great post, Lisa! Thanks for the shout-out too. I appreciate how you take such a balanced approach to this topic and you weigh all options. Just as we need to embrace social media to match the evolution of childhood, we also need to embrace other aspects of childhood, including encouraging further imagination on the child’s part. 100% of anything is not perfect, but a balanced approach to childhood and technology is essential to truly evolve with it.

    Thanks for the post!

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  5. Love this entry Lisa! I read the book ‘Not a Box’ quite a while ago, but I totally forgot about it. I like how you compared the story with the real life challenges we face with childhood, creativity and the use of social media. I’m going to go find myself a copy now!

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    • Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on my post. Antoinette also wrote a box called “Not a Stick” which is all about imaginative play with a stick! might be worth check them both out ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  6. I appreciate your perspective, Lisa, but I think the example of the box is instructive here. The box can be diverse things because of imagination, and creativity, which I feel are hindered by things like social media. As I’ve said in my blog posts, I think all of the stimulation that kids get from things like tech and social media impinge the sort of natural creativity that turns a box into a duplicator, or a transmogrifier (Calvin and Hobbes 4 lyfe). I think your reference to Zuckerberg’s work was fitting, though. Tech can’t be avoided, it has to be used moderately and sparingly. I would argue, though, that they need to be used very moderately an sparingly. Kids need to be bored sometimes, because that’s when the creativity to turn the box into something new comes forward. Great post!

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    • I appreciate your thoughts and additional reflections on my post Steve. I 100% agree that imagination and creativity can be hindered by social media. I believe they are hindered whenever the opportunity for imaginative play is taken away. This seem to happen often enough, even without social media thrown into the mix. Many people do not value imaginative play. We see a drastic difference in the way classrooms are run between prekindergarten and even many grade one classrooms. We need to find that balance so that all areas of childhood can thrive. How can we be sure we are finding the right balance for each one of our unique learners? I could really go on all day about play and exploration… your talking to the prek teacher that removed the “computer centre” from my prek room when I moved here as I didn’t see how putting my 3/4 year olds on a computer was helping them to develop holistically. Instead, I decided that we would use tech purposefully and with supervision of teachers or big buddies. There are some ways that I would like to improve the ways i’m using tech in my class to enhance the learning of my students… but I think that another blog post for another day. Thanks for getting me thinking even more on the topic! Enjoy your afternoon!

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  7. Pingback: How Is Social Media Impacting Childhood? | Justine Stephanson-Kyle's Blog

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