Sunday, October 1, 2023
Speak Your MindBeyond the Glow of Devices

Beyond the Glow of Devices

Kiremt, the rainy season in Ethiopia, brings back memories of childhood for many of us. For me, the season symbolizes the carefree days of school breaks when we had free time without homework or obligations. It is a special season, transporting us back to a time when the simplest joys could occupy an entire day. It reminds us to recapture that youthful enthusiasm and appreciate childhood as the gift that it is.

Kiremt reunited neighborhood friends. Those with limited freedom spent time inside reading fiction or playing with siblings. But for the lucky ones allowed to play outside, it created some of our most precious childhood memories – building forts, climbing trees and playing make-believe for hours.

In those pre-screen times, our activities rarely relied on technology. We played the old-fashioned way, relying on our imaginations instead. Those of us over 30 remember Kiremt season differently than kids today. When we were young, there was little “screen time” – no tablets, smartphones or streaming video. DVDs had yet to be invented.

Our activities were organic, and we spent rainy days the old-fashioned way – playing outdoors with neighborhood friends, using our imaginations instead of screens.

Times have changed. “Screen time” has become a defining part of childhood. Today’s parents struggle to limit it, yet screens seem to be the only thing that fully captures children’s attention, regardless of age.

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While the content children watch evolves as they age, their love of screens remains constant. The hypnotic allure of technology is ageless.

As parents, we struggle to limit screen time but often fail to set a good example with our own device addictions. It’s astonishing what screens are doing to our brains.

Kiremt means more unstructured time for children, and more time spent on screens – the one thing parents dread most during school breaks. Thankfully, summer camps offer an alternative. They help counteract the threat of non-stop screen time by keeping kids active, social and engaged in real-life experiences.

Summer camps have become timely and valuable in Ethiopia, providing essential screen-free activities for children confined at home.

Today’s compact living spaces don’t allow kids to play freely outside, so screens help fill the void. In this screen-saturated era, camps provide what children need most: time away from screens. It gives children the outdoor experiences we took for granted growing up. Activities that stimulate development nourish imagination, build confidence, and strengthen relationships offline in ways screens cannot.

Parents should utilize these programs, otherwise unlimited screen time risks damaging children’s brains and stunt their skills. Children build confidence navigating the real world instead of a virtual one. This old-fashioned alternative may be exactly what kids need most in the digital age to develop real-life connections, challenges, and adventures that technology cannot replicate.

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