How to Counteract the Impending Paucity of Thoughtfulness!

Part of this title came from an amazing sentence I recently read. Here it is, along with part of the one that came before it: “easy and continuous access to the Internet has made us skimmers not readers and…our short attention spans have us processing information superficially. Accommodating the distractible mind will inexorably lead to a paucity of thoughtfulness that the increasingly complex and nuanced world we inhabit requires.” I am pretty sure that there was no paucity of thoughtfulness involved in the crafting of
that sentence.

(This came from an editorial published in Pediatrics Journal. The author expresses concern about the effects of digital immersion on children. If you would like to read the whole article, you can find it here.)

But now I am curious. Are children today becoming “skimmers not readers” who are growing up “processing information superficially”? Is this leading to a “paucity of thoughtfulness”? What do you think? I would like to know.

If it’s true, here’s one way for parents to help their children learn to think more thoughtfully. Of course it involves reading together! Next time you are reading aloud with your child, try this experiment…ask your child a few questions about details that are not explicitly mentioned in the story.

Ask your children what they think happened to the character before the story started…ask them what the character’s family is like…what the character’s house is like…what the character’s favorite book might be. For kids who are a little older, try asking them how the story might change if one important detail was different in some way (for example, if the main character had been a girl instead of a boy, or if a character had made a different  decision somewhere in the story). Be sure to stress to your children that there is no right or wrong answer. The answers can be anything they can imagine.

By asking questions like these, you can help your children get a more involved in a story, to be more thoughtful, to look below the surface, to use their imaginations, and to answer questions without looking for a pre-defined “right” answer. You will probably see the best results if you do this consistently for a while. Please let me know how it goes when you try
this out at home. I am really interested in your results.