Are the machines taking over? Finding the balance in an increasingly high tech world of nature and play.

You know how much I love nature play – and what a passionate advocate for it I am.

The ABC News reported yesterday about a new playground in Western Sydney. The headline for the article was “Hi-tech playground in western Sydney takes digital native into great outdoors”.

You can find it here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I absolutely understand the allure of technology for kids (and parents). I just don’t get why sometimes we can’t just let kids be kids, play be play and nature be nature on it’s own terms.

Technology is here to stay – and there’s no doubt that it has it’s place as a useful learning and communications tool – it’s up to us how and when we CHOOSE to interact with it. 

ladybird mouse               kid looking at a ladybird

The wider parklands where this technological play area is located appear to have such a lot of stunning natural areas. Perhaps an initial visit to the techie bit will encourage families to expand their explorations to other, more natural parts of the park, and encourage people to get off the trail more often to explore nature without their gadgets. 

On the other hand maybe all the bright lights and flashing parts will draw and distract people away from the natural beauty that surrounds them.

Our family loves playing outside in natural areas and exploring tech free. There’s always plenty of communication, exploring, curiosity, awe, wonder, learning, resilience and capacity building, getting to know and love negotiations, self-regulation, teamwork, independent play a whole lot of fun and a whole lot more. There are also often a few bumps and bruises, the whole gamut of emotions and learning to know and respect the natural world.

That said, we went on a little local Geo-cache the other day, and everyone had a ball blending the technological with the natural.

We also love places like Scienceworks for example, with all the bells and whistles. 

On a really wet, cold and rainy day, we also love the Wii.

Our Museum Victoria phone app often helps to identify birds, bugs, reptiles and animals etc, but we only use it occasionally when or after we’ve been outside playing. If we see or hear something that the kids find that stimulates their natural curiosity sometimes it leads them to ask me if we can find it on the app. 

My first response to them usually is … what do you think it is?

Sometimes it’s way more fun to just make it up and we all have a good laugh about the new name the kids (or I) have made up for whatever it is they’ve found. Other times we do look at the app to find out what it might be.

Ultimately it’s all about balance and our power to choose. 

But I know where we’d rather be! How about you?

What is your greatest takeaway from these interviews?

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