July 5, 2017
My 3-year-old loves my iPhone. It’s his favorite thing. He doesn’t get lost in it much, since we don’t allow screen time during the week. Videos are held for special occasions, like Saturday mornings (when we want to sleep in) and travel. In fact, I was so proud when he would exclaim how much he loved to fly on airplanes — only to put the pieces together and realize the love simply came from three uninterrupted hours of video watching.
It’s fascinating to watch this little person, so fresh and new, get addicted to something so quickly. It’s like a drug. It affects his brain. He has to “come-down” from video watching when I take my phone away. And he loves to watch YouTube more than a movie. He loves to be able to jump from video to video, constantly moving to something new, whereas when he sits down with a Pixar movie, he must give a topic a whole 90 minutes of his time, which can sometimes be a struggle.
We recently embarked on a cross-country RV road trip. I told myself that even though there would be lots of traveling, I would try my best to limit the amount of screen time, not only for him, but so our family could spend as much quality time together as we could. And beautifully, one really cool thing happened. My phone transitioned from an object used to watch images to one that was used to capture images.
As we traveled from Banff, to Glacier to Mount Rainer, yes, there were videos watched, but as soon as we arrived his eyes were alive with things he had never seen before. Mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, 400-year-old trees and babbling brooks.
In the middle of one of our excursions, he asked for my phone and I gave it to him — but this time showing him how to take a photo. And what happened from there was magical. That night I had to wade through hundreds of images. Some great. Some not. Some capturing beauty. Some capturing a stuffed Ram in a restaurant. It was so cool to see the world through his eyes. The world from someone who is only three feet tall and experiencing things he has never experienced before.
And after I told him that one of his shots was beautiful, he would run up to me time and time again and ask — is this one beautiful momma? And it was beautiful. All in its own way. Beautiful to see the world in his eyes and beautiful to watch him create not just consume images. Travel is a magical thing.