Dear Friend,

I’ve got two sons, and I don’t mind sharing that at times they drive me nuts. They are teenagers, so this may not seem like a revelation. After all, teenagers have driven their parents nuts for as long as there have been teenagers. But how they do it surely is new to this generation.Ben-sons3

My boys each have a laptop and an iPhone, and they also have an Xbox and cable TV with On Demand movies and shows. I just found out that, apparently, we have a Hulu account (Hulu allows users to choose from current television shows any time they like, and there are thousands of choices) and a Netflix account, just in case the On Demand feature on the expensive cable package doesn’t offer the movie they want. This all adds up to noses in the screen during all free time.

Admittedly, my boys are better than many kids. They also visit friends (presumably their friends have all those same gadgets), play sports and generally do things. But when at home, it is all too easy for them to fall into the comfort of technology rather than, say, pick up a book or play the piano or even enjoy a board game, all activities that I would argue are a might healthier than the attractive nuisance I call ‘screen time.’

And here’s the part that is pertinent to my blog as the founder of a nature travel company: all this screen time is keeping them from playing in the woods. As a child growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, when I complained, “I’m bored,” my mother kicked me out of the house and I went up to the wooded gulley by the South Mountain Reservation and played. I looked under rocks for salamanders, built forts with logs and climbed trees. It was forced nature encounters, and I loved it.

Since my boys are now teenagers, perhaps they wouldn’t participate in these ‘childish’ activities anyway, regardless of their over-stimulation by technology. Or if they did hang out in the woods, there’s a good chance that no good would come of it. But the point is that these knucklehead sons of mine have been wasting their years tapping keys and viewing screens rather than living life in the outdoors. Sorta like I am doing now. Gotta go.

I hope to see you out there,