Never Had It So Good: Think outside the screen

Published 4:59 pm Friday, June 2, 2017

Now that Memorial Day has passed, we are officially into the summer travel season. Many of you have or have had young kids and are familiar with that dreaded inevitable question that comes with every trip lasting more than five minutes. Three frightening words can cause havoc over your vacation.

For those of you who don’t know, my wife and I have two kids, age 9 and 11. This past weekend, we made our annual trek to the coast for the long holiday weekend. We packed the car and began heading down the interstate. Sure enough, before we even crossed into the Palmetto state, that dreaded question came from the backseat: How much longer?

“Five hours,” we said, always rounding up higher than what the actual is to build in some time for stops, traffic and other potential issues.

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“Ok,” was the response as their heads lowered back to focus on their tablet screens.

A little while later, the question came from the backseat again. “How much longer?” my daughter inquired.

“Four and a half hours,” I said.

Thirty minutes later, we were asked again. Same response. Repeat. And again. And again.

Finally, my wife said, “Half way there. Just play your tablet, watch a movie, learn a new trick with your fidget spinner or take a nap to pass the time.”

“My tablet is dead,” she replied in agony.

The same conversation continued over and over, which seemed like every three and a half minutes. Each time the tone and pitch of our voices went up a level, making my wife and I more frustrated with each mile that passed. Finally, the smell of salt air filled the car when we opened the windows.

But should we be upset with our kids for acting this way? Are they the ones with whom we should be frustrated? Can they help acting as if we are torturing them, making them sit through mile after mile of misery with nothing more to do than look at the trees passing by the windows?

In actuality, it’s our own fault. With the society we live in, we have trained them to act like this. We furnish them with all the fastest, modern, up to date electronics on the market, because that’s how today’s society has become and if you don’t have it, you just aren’t “cool.” Everything is now, now, now. So we equip our kids with all these fancy gadgets, because we love them and want to make them happy. We want to make their lives better than what we had at that age.

I remember when I was their age piling in the back seat of the family car with my sister to go to the beach. That same question came from my mouth many, many times. The only difference was we had no electronics. We were armed with items such as a deck of playing cards or a book. We had creative games like searching out unique license plates from different states, playing the punch buggy game and pumping your arm up and down to get every 18-wheeler driver to honk their horn for you.

My point here is we as parents create some of these arguments with our children because we love them. I know that probably doesn’t make sense. It’s like a double edged sword. You win and lose with everything we do. Perhaps we should take a step back, to a simpler time when we were kids to show them you can have fun without the latest app on your phone that will be yesterday’s news 20 minutes from now. A time when we used the right side of our brain to be creative and think outside of the screen.

Remember when your mom told you to go outside to play and not come back till dinner? Where have those simpler times gone? That’s another question to be tackled a different day.

But for now, maybe accidentally misplacing the charging cord to your child’s tablet is a good way to put their inventive side to work.

Kevin Powell is the general manager of the Tryon Daily Bulletin. He can be reached at or 828-859-9151.