Our brain hasn´t changed much over the past 200,000 years. Our lives sure have though. Every brain needs the following things, every day, to be healthy. Focus time, down time, play time (spontaneous, creative, novel), physical time, connection time (with people or nature, technology DOES NOT count), time-in (thinking about our thoughts, feelings, etc), and sleep. Thinking about our past, these things were just a natural part of life. We didn´t have to “make time” to do any of them. Now we do. Why?
Just like our body and brain developed ways to make us eat as many sugars and fats as we could,I am guessing they it did the same with focus time. If you look at all the activities that are bad for us, and that we become addicted to, they all are some sort of focused activity. Social media, YouTube, Netflix, Television, video games. All of them are focused activities.
Our brain is only capable of so much focus in any given time period. It´s something like 25 minutes at a time (10 for kiddos less than 12), and somewhere between 2-4 hours in one day. Think about that. 2-4 hours in one day. How much time do you spend staring at a screen? Your children? Your students? Are we robbing ourselves of any attempt to focus on things that truly matter?
If you think about an average child now, how much time do you think they spend doing focused activity on an average day? You have the school day: depending on the school, a student is probably being asked to focus for AT LEAST 4 hours. That same student goes home. How many focused activities are they doing there? Down time? Time-in? Sleep? How much actual play?
I played a ton. I did imaginary play all the way through High School. I think maybe … maybe .. 3 of my 22 students do any sort of imaginative play at this point. I teach 5th grade. Think about that. We live in a world that our brains are not made for. This world has evolved systems that make us addicted to them (most likely accidentally!!). We have accidentally addicted our children to technology. To their utmost determent.
Why has this happened? Thoughts on that next time.