School Beat: Presents vs Presence

By Clint Keranen, Athletic Director- East Rockford MS

What are we really gifting our children when they open the newest smartphone, tablet, or video game console on the market Christmas morning? A present that will bring a family closer or one that encourages social isolation from the rest of the family and friends for hours on end? Are we giving the gift of a healthy lifestyle, or one that leads to obesity and/or other detrimental physical, emotional, and social by-products in their lives?

Today’s “Net Generation” students live in a digital world. Recent studies reveal that students spend over 10 hours a day using multimedia devices. Ten hours a day is nothing short of alarming, but these children are likely following their parents’ lead.  After all, they’re generally the ones that provide the devices. Device usage is only increasing and there is no stopping it, but the good news is that we can use technology in positive ways if we are intentional with our screen time.

Through the years, companies have attempted to increase people’s physical activity through technology. In November 2006, Nintendo released the Wii which was the first movement-based video game console. Peloton released their version of an internet connected stationary bicycle in 2012. In September 2018, technological advances took home gyms to a new level by releasing the Mirror! This discreet invention solved the problem of inadequate time to go to the local gym, as well as having a clutter-filled living area as a result of attempting to create your own home gym. It seems that companies are working towards improving physical activity, but there remain social and emotional concerns.

There is discussion of approving ‘Gaming’ as a high school sport, which could be a tremendous opportunity to promote building social skills. Although it may sound exciting to play the newest video game with people across the world from the comfort of your home, there is nothing more enjoyable than spending time in person with the ones we love most. During the holiday season, let’s be intentional with our ‘presence’ giving rather than our ‘presents’ giving.