Food for Thought: Technology at Family Camp, Part II
When I set out to write something about how we use of technology while we’re at camp, I was hoping to encourage conversation about the subject. What I have come to realize since then was that I was actually joining an already ongoing conversation, and a pretty long one at that. So, today, I wanted to present a few of the voices in that conversation that I have found; some interesting points of view that I think will add to what I have already said. But, first: a little more of my own voice.
My initial thoughts about this subject were prompted by my experience as a campfire musician and the pretty extreme possibilities of technology to enhance this experience. There’s nothing like having a sing-along at campfire with just an acoustic guitar (or two) for accompaniment. Agreed. But have you tried any of the cool music-making apps out there? Okay, here I am talking about “cool apps” again, but really, there’s just so much out there. For example, there are countless virtual synthesizer apps available for little or no money that can turn your smartphone or tablet into a pretty capable musical instrument and/or fun noisemaking device. What does this mean for campfires? Well, all those Phil Collins and Talking Heads covers are going to sound a whole lot more authentic once you’ve got your smartphone-turned-synthesizer around. Is anyone else excited about this? Anyone? Okay, putting my obsession with 1980’s pop music aside, there are plenty of other perspectives out there on this topic.
This New York Times article follows a group of professors on an outdoor journey where they have little or no access to technology – no internet, no e-mail and no real cell phone service. It purposes, among other things, that our attention span, memory, and ability to learn are all affected, for the most part in a negative way, by our reliance on technology. Another article at Gettingkidsoutdoors.org, seems to agree, but focuses more on how this reliance on technology affects children, limiting the opportunities they have to think creatively and use their imaginations. It’s worth noting that both these articles seem to suggest that finding a healthy balance is the best solution, not simply confiscating technology. Next week: more (even cooler) apps for supplementing, but not distracting you from, your camp experience.