Tuesday, July 26, 2016 | By: HiDee

The Struggle of Being Disconnected

My local newspaper recently printed a good news-bad news article:  children are finally heading back outside to play. That’s the good news.  The bad news is they aren’t creatively building forts, playing cowboys and Indians, or playing sports. No, instead, they are chasing Pokémon.

Many jokes have been made about how Pokémon Go accomplished in a day what Michelle Obama has been trying to do for years: get people on their feet and moving.  It’s working for my kids.  My son likes to wander our small town after dark playing the game, and my daughter spent 6 hours one Sunday wandering her small town doing the same!  But that’s the extent of my knowledge of the game, so if you aren’t familiar with it and want to learn more about the “pocket monsters” you’ll need to google Pokémon Go.

With the variety and availability of various electronic devices, children – and adults – are spending too much time being sedentary: watching TV, surfing the internet, or playing video games.  Decades ago, parents sent their children outside to entertain themselves, to roam neighborhoods and interact with other children doing the same. Comparing the two lifestyles, words like “play deficit” and “play deprivation” are being used often by people in the know.

Peter Gray, a psychologist and research professor at Boston College, says “Play deprivation is bad for children. Among other things, it promotes anxiety, depression, suicide, narcissism and loss of creativity.”

It’s important to realize that play deprivation or play deficit is detrimental for adults, too.  Many of us are just as attuned to our electronic devices as our children are.  We are addicted to technology, to the ability to be connected 24/7, and to the instant gratification we get from those connections.  The struggle of being disconnected is real.

And yet, we need to disconnect to refill our inner wells.  Writers especially need time to give our eyes a rest from the glare of screens, to give our fingers, hands, and wrists a break from repetitive motions that cause distress to our bodies.  It’s important for us to get up and move frequently to try and offset any number of health issues that can beset us.  In addition, our minds need down-time to just wander, to discover new-to-us things, to enjoy the beauty of nature without the distractions and stresses of everyday life.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/95457978@N00/3086228798">Communication breakdown</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>
So what can we do?

Find something that allows you to disconnect, even if it’s not a complete disconnect.  Start out small if you have to – 10 minutes without your phone or electronics.  Take a walk around the block and look – really look – at your surroundings.  Listen to the sounds around you.  You’ll be surprised what you notice that you haven’t paid attention to before.

Maybe the outdoors is not your thing. Maybe you sew, scrapbook, or just read. Those things aren’t necessarily going to get you moving, but they can still give you a break from electronics.  Focus on patterns, or pictures, or words. What draws you to one over another?  As a writer, how might you incorporate your focus into your stories?

We all lead busy lives and sometimes struggle to balance everything in a way that works for us.

What can you do to reduce the play deficit in your life and rejuvenate your soul?



4 comments:

Lynn said...

Great post, HiDee! I'm a nature person when it comes to refueling. I wrote an article a long time ago for a magazine about the importance of adult play. It's funny how hard it is to make that happen. Thanks for the reminder!

Lynn said...

Great post, HiDee! I'm a nature person when it comes to refueling. I wrote an article a long time ago for a magazine about the importance of adult play. It's funny how hard it is to make that happen. Thanks for the reminder!

Mark R Hunter said...

My wife plays Pokemom Go, and we've been learning thing we didn't know about the local are a: many of the stops have information that comes up about them, especially historic locations, signs, and landmarks.

HiDee said...

Mark, that's cool to know. I'll have to ask my kids what they've learned. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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