Creativity — Enhanced or Numbed?

Clara Isabel Logsdon

Yesterday in my Wednesday morning Eagles Group we were discussing the rapid changes in technology.  Some of the guys in this reading/brainstorming group now come in with their electronic readers rather than carrying the physical book.  And they may have their entire library in this one device.  Personally I still like the look and feel of a “real” book but others are telling me I’m nothing but a dinosaur.


Here is a picture of my youngest granddaughter (Clara Isabel) – who turned ONE last Monday.  See what she has in her hand?  It’s the Sansa Shaker MP3 player Joanne and I got her.  Her parents can load her favorite 125 songs in her own digital player – at one year old!  When she shakes it, the next song begins to play.  After just a couple of days she knows how to stop, play and advance at will.


When I was one year old we didn’t have a radio or a TV in the house.  By the time I was about five I could make music by blowing on a piece of grass held between my hands.  I guess things have changed.  Of course I know my granddaughter is brilliant beyond description — yet this gives me pause.  Are these digital “advances” taking us forward or causing us to perhaps miss our own creativity?  Do we risk numbing Clara’s imagination as we spoil her rotten?


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6 Responses to “Creativity — Enhanced or Numbed?”

  1. Peter Says:

    Count me in for e-books for the most part. I can carry a bunch of them easily and read whatever I’m in the mood for at the time (at least until my batteries die).

    As for the advances – it’s all in how you handle them. Too much of anything can be bad and keeping kids unnecessarily shielded from technology can be detrimental as well. However, at 1 I don’t think you have anything to worry about. It’s when she starts re-programming the computer when she’s two that you have to be concerned. 😀

    We have quite a bit of up to date tech in our house that our kid sees/uses. However, she still finds a lot of please in simple things – whistles, pianos, a “guitar” made from a shoebox and paper-towel tube with some rubber bands. All pretty amusing at times. Around 2, she went through a shoe and phone phase. Either she was fascinated by our shoes and wore them all over the place, or everything was a phone. There’s definitely no lack of creativity with her and her four “brothers and sisters” (each with their own puppy). She adopted the Pevensie kids shortly after reading/seeing/hearing the Chronicles of Narnia. 🙂 We had to inform workers at church that she didn’t really have any siblings or pets because she could get quite descriptive about their activities.

  2. Gary Says:

    Congratulations, Grandpa! My youngest (and only) granddaughter, Ava Rae, also celebrated her first birthday last Monday! Like Clara Isabel, our little Ava is surrounded by “gadgets,” from a toy cell phone “just like Daddy’s” to a musical toy that calls out color names in three languages as she touches the bright tabs on the toy’s surface. She enjoys those toys, but they are all left behind when Mommy, Daddy, Grandpa or someone else picks up a book and begins reading. Within seconds, Ava is grabbing her blankie and climbing into the lap of whoever will read to her, and it really doesn’t matter what they’re reading — last week she sat entranced with me for half an hour as I read aloud from a scientific journal.

    Yet books themselves have faced the same scrutiny we often apply to modern electronic technologies.

    According to author Thomas West, “Long ago, Socrates described some second thoughts he had about the new and questionable technology called a “book”. He thought it had several weaknesses. A book could not adjust what it was saying, as a living person would, to what would be appropriate for certain listeners or specific times or places.

    In addition, a book could not be interactive, as in a conversation or dialogue between persons. And finally, according to Socrates, in a book the written words “seem to talk to you as if they were intelligent, but if you ask them anything about what they say, from a desire to be instructed, they go on telling you just the same thing forever.” (“Thinking Like Einstein,”

    The fact is, many modern technological toys, including your Sansa Shaker, are far more interactive and intellectually stimulating than many of the toys we grew up with. Even so, nothing will replace reading, singing and just talking to children, including my little granddaughter.

  3. Ashley Logsdon Says:

    Yes, that’s my cutie patootie up there–the sweet doted on little Miss Clara. After 10+ years of nannying, babysitting, and being a preschool teacher, I definitely experienced my share of “numbed” kids. I swore that video games and toys with batteries would never step foot in my house. Although I’ve still managed to ban the video games, toys with batteries are part of the territory for a little girl surrounded by family and friends who love to spoil her.
    I think the key here is not shielding our kids from every technological gizmo, but instead, make a deliberate effort to not allow any toy, TV show, computer or video game take the place of real-life interaction. When their number one form of “play” is a piece of technology that provides instant gratification, it doesn’t equip our kids to learn how to play with each other or create their own stories.
    I’m all for the toys that enhance basic play–instead of this little sansa shaker being a place for Clara to plug in to in the car and zone out of family time (and no, at one, she is NOT listening on headphones!), it’s something she can dance to! She loves to dance and perform, so the MP3 player is filled with classical and kid’s tunes that she dances and “sings” to.
    Bottom line is that we have a society full of instant gratification/high stimulation/zoning out toys–but are they really the big issue here, or is it more about the fact that we allow these to take the place of real live human interaction with family? Use these toys as a tool to play together–create new things and play with your child–and help them think and play outside the box!

  4. Jim Kohnman Says:

    Well first off I’ve had an Amazon Kindle for about a week now, and I don’t see every buying a regular book again. In fact I tried to buy 48 Days to the Work you Love and didn’t because it had no Kindle edition. (HINT)
    My daughter is now 11. She had been around this stuff since she got here and I don’t think it’s made them less creative, I think they are MORE creative. Just in a different way. The tools to make a shoebox guitar is still just a tool. The tools have changed is all. Her and her group of friends consistently blow me away with what they come up with. Then they send it to each other on a cell phone or some such device. In 5th grade she is doing stuff that is AMAZING and that many adults could not create. They went to an astro-camp last week and this week the class project is to learn how to make a DVD movie to show what they learned about astronomy.
    I’m so glad I’m not in 5th grade.

  5. tpotsasa Says:

    I believe that technology can free a person or dumb them down. I personally use technology in a freeing and educational manner. Because I subscribe to some of the Rich Dad philosophy (look for problems) I always have ideas for projects and inventions, but I lack the time to work on them at this point. I document these in my idea journal for later. It is very inconvenient for me to be writing in a journal when I am driving so I use a personal digital recorder to save my ideas for later review. Not only does this help me to record my ideas, but it allows me to free my mind. This allows me to focus on creative thinking and helps me avoid a cluttering my mind (Getting Things Done Philosophy). I also use an Ipod to learn from the many podcasts and audio books (Zig Ziglar’s automobile university).

    On the numbing side of technology, it allows people to go through life only knowing the bare minimum, not really understanding how things work. We now have everything at our finger tips which can contribute to our laziness. We can now watch our huge flat screen TVs without moving more than a finger turn it on and watch the 1 million channels of trash. Speaking of trash, just look at the news lately, they are filling the airwaves with their limited point of view about the economy (The media has correctly predicted 36 of the last 2 recessions. – Zig Ziglar) and what the many celebrities are up to.
    My recommendation: everybody, please do not allow technology make you stupid, use it to free you and help you to learn and grow.

  6. Andrea C. Parker Says:

    As a singer/songwriter I love that music is so invaluable to the young and old alike. It is amazing the technology nowadays and how quickly we can have what we want – when we want it. From my perspective this just opens more doors for me and my music – I may not have a record label but 1 yr olds everywhere could be listening to me sing!! 🙂

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