Today’s post comes at the request of readers – for your kids, my kids, your grandkids. This is an open letter to kids of ages approximately 9-14 growing up in a digital age.
I have a little secret I want to share with you. Electronics are stealing something away from you, and you have no idea.
In this entire world, there is not a single person like you. Think on that. You are unique, you have something to offer this world, you have discoveries to make and ideas to form. Your life will tell a story one day. In fact, every day is like writing a page in the story book of your life. Have you ever thought of your life as a story?
You know what makes a story interesting? A collection of unique, different stories that when put together make a story you can’t put down. A boring story is one that tells the same story from page to page.
Think of your day today and all the little moments you experienced. That really funny joke that made you laugh until your sides hurt. Or that unexpected thing someone said that made you spit milk through your nose doubled over in a deep belly laugh. Then discovering that laughing is contagious when your friends start laughing with you. The moment your brother or sister said something that aggravated you and how in the span of 2 minutes you could go from angry to laughing. That embarrassing moment during recess that you wish you could erase but you know that one day it will tell a very funny story.
Your life is a collection of moments. Moments become memories. Memories are a gift and a treasure.
You are a moment collector, memory creator, and a master storyteller.
Memories make us smile, cry, and laugh. Memories comfort us when we are sad and make us smile when we want to cry. Memories can teach us lessons, and they remind us that we are special, that we are loved, that we are known. Our memories tell a story unlike anyone else’s story. It’s yours and yours alone. How cool is that?
Now let me ask you a question to think about. When you think of memories, do visions of video games play in your head? When you think of moments that you want to remember forever, are you thinking back to when you defeated that last level?
You know what electronics, devices, screens, and video games are stealing from you? Time.
When electronic devices steal your time, they steal your moments that could’ve been. When it takes your moments, it takes your memories that never had a chance to form. When it takes your memories, it takes your story and makes it boring because it all looks the same.
If your story is one big video game, it will be a pretty boring story to tell one day. And you aren’t boring. You are unique and one-of-a-kind.
Kids, you were created by God- for a purpose. You were made for more than conquering boards and clashing clans. You were created for a unique purpose and no one can tell the story of your life like you can.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should NEVER be on a screen. That is silly given the world we live in. It doesn’t mean if you like video games, you will be boring. My boys love video games, and they are the most interesting kids I know, but I’m biased. So let’s explore this a little more because I’m not saying you should never be on a device.
What I want you to hear is that devices secretly control us, but they make us think we control them. And when they control us, they steal our time and make us miss out on making our story interesting.
It’s the reason you find yourself talking about it non-stop with your friends, or rushing through homework so you can go play a video game, or not really wanting to talk to your mom about your day because you have wars to fight in a make-believe world. We think we control electronics, but they can easily control us.
Life happens only once. Childhood is experienced only one time by each person. It’s not a video game where we get a ‘2nd life’ to play the board of childhood again.
Have you ever noticed that when you play a video game, 30 minutes actually feels like 5? That is how fast childhood goes as well. 18 years will feel like 5.
When your eyes are on a screen, you will never see what you are missing. You will never know what could’ve been if you had just looked up. And that is why I urgently want you to understand this.
You don’t know what you are missing because you are having so much fun playing on a device. You are entertained, so you don’t feel you are missing out on anything. You are having fun. But life is more than being entertained. Life is for living, creating, playing, and feeling. Nothing you experience on a screen can come close to what God has for you in the real life world He’s placed you in. Don’t accept 2nd, 3rd or last best for your life. Accept your best life now, which is the very place God has placed you.
The thing is…when you are a child, you can’t see this. It’s only when you look back that you can fully understand the treasure of childhood. Trust me, put down the devices and go be a kid. You will never regret putting down a device, but you could regret spending some of the best years of your life in make-believe worlds.
I have a few more things to share with you to encourage you to put the screen down and go enjoy this life. I will be writing you another letter or two on this subject looking at different perspectives. I hope you will keep reading.
In the meantime, I have a little challenge for you if you are up for it? Are you?
This week’s challenge is to make one small change in your electronic life. That will look different for everyone (remember we are each unique and have a different story, so yours will look different than your best friend’s). Maybe if you play your device everyday, you choose 3 days to play. Maybe if you always take it in the car, you start leaving it at home. Maybe if you always discuss it with your friend, you choose something different to talk about. Maybe if your parents let you play as long as you want, you set a timer for 30 minutes instead. There are many small changes you can make. Choose one for a week and write a list of how your moments looked different when you took your time back from the devices.
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