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#RediscoverNature: Is Technology Killing Childhood?

'Nature has always been a part of childhood. Let’s make sure it doesn’t stop with us.'

That's the slogan of a new ad by granola bar company Nature Valley which presents a foreboding prediction for the future of our technology-obsessed generation. In the video, three generations of Canadian families are asked the same question: When you were a kid, what did you do for fun?

The oldest generation reminisce about blueberry-picking, sledding and fishing. For the next generation, more of the same – hide-and-seek, baseball and fort-building. Then the upbeat tone of the ad takes a dramatic turn as the youngest generation describe watching television, texting and playing video games for hours. ‘Just last week I watched 23 episodes of a TV series in less than 4 days. Whenever I feel upset I play video games and I feel normal,’ says one boy.  ‘I would die if I didn’t have my tablet,’ a younger girl admits. The most worrying is this boy’s response: ‘I forget I’m in a house, I have parents, I have a sister, I have a dog – I just think I’m in the video game, I get completely lost.’

The adults are then asked what they think will happen to their great-great-grandchildren if the trend continues. ‘It’s scary to think that they’ll never have to leave the house,’ says one parent. ‘That special connection with nature, I think it’s innate in all children, but needs to be nurtured.’ The ad then asks viewers to share their photos and stories with the hashtag #RediscoverNature.

Google images
It’s true that these are some extreme examples which demonise technology and social media, but it plays on a very contemporary debate. Last year Allison Slater Tate wrote an article for the Washington Post about parenting in the Internet age. Even though Tate is Twitter and Instagram savvy herself, she says that it’s scary how the internet can shape and change the experience of children from that of their parents and grandparents. Would the kids in The Breakfast Club even talk to each other in a Saturday morning detention today, in an age when teenagers can have entire relationships over text messages, asks Tate?

Older generations would argue that technology is destroying conversation, not enhancing it. But either way, technology is permanently changing in today’s world, and children need to be trained to use it properly and to its fullest potential. Some commenters on videos of the Nature Valley ad posted online say that it places too much fear in what’s different. And it can’t escape from the irony that the connective capabilities enabled by the Internet are essential to the commercial success of any company or corporation today. 

Aaron Waterhouse

Aaron is a recent English graduate from Durham University who is now working as a content writer intern. An enthusiastic traveller, he hopes to become a journalist and report from around the world. Follow him @AaronAtSMF

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#RediscoverNature: Is Technology Killing Childhood? Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, July 16, 2015 Rating: 5

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