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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Creativity versus technology

I think it would be fair to say that all a child needs is a box of crayons and a pad of paper to express their creativity. I must have been about 11 myself when I would spend many a happy hour drawing and colouring. Whilst I’m all for the advancement of technology, there is a growing trend that allows our children’s brains to rot in front of a computer screen. Soon we shall have a whole generation of children with zero imaginative powers, trapped in a virtual world devoid of artistry. It is time for parents to take a stand and save our children from the encroaching darkness of a twelve inch black screen. This is more especially true for autistic children, or some of them. Those children who shun the opportunity to enhance their fine motor skills by holding a pencil, as well as those who shy away from the texture of paper.

I pause in my composition of “Luddites Unite” for publication in “The New Scientist Magazine” to revive my brain with additional caffeine. I notice how quiet the house is and tip toe off to track them down. “Animal Planet” entertains one on the telly. Another one plays with his father, making circuit boards. I look for the little one.

The little one is hunched in front of the computer, a little tangled pretzel of a boy, tightly wrapped but for one arm, extended to hold a mouse. I sit down next to him and peer at the screen too. He is half way through designing a monster. A roulette wheel icon on the side allows him to choose any number of different options, colour, size, limbs, body attributes and any number of variations on a theme. At 47 I could probably navigate my way through this site myself, assuming I was sufficiently interested but I doubt if my skills match his. I expect most 7 year olds and even younger children would be similarly equipped both mentally and digitally. At the end of the exercise, a box appears for the designer to enter a name for their creation, but he skips that bit.
“Aren’t you going to give him a name dear?”
“No.” I still can’t quite fathom why the boys are so resistant to naming things?
“Oh come. What would be a good name for your creature? Fred? George? Colin?”

He turns his slowly towards me, ripping his eye balls away from the screen. He looks at me as if I am a complete imbecile, puzzled and ever so slightly patronizing.

“Go on…......give him a name.”

He looks back at his creature. I hope his brain is percolating, choosing a favourite, perhaps his best friend’s name?

“I am be call him…………..no.” Oh dear, he's stalled.
“What’s wrong? What did you think of?”
“I am not be say?” Go on! Share with your old mum why don’t you?
“Coz I am not be spell it proper.” Bless his little cotton socks! He’s such a perfectionist. You know the type? Can’t do it perfectly then he won’t do it at all. Doesn't everyone know someone like this?

“Oh well I can help you with the spelling. You say it and I’ll spell it for you.”
“Atomic Robotic Aquatic Heat Blaster.”

Hmm, not Fluffy then?

Such is the curious nature of a speech delay, or maybe the arrested development of a parent?

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