In praise of the simple, low-tech LEGO

A recent visit to Cincinnati yielded a delightful surprise. As my wife and I wandered around, we noticed a steady stream of families entering a nearby convention center to attend something called LEGO KidsFest.

I love LEGOs, and I still have toy blocks from when my adult children were toddlers. I was intrigued by the idea of a LEGO convention, so we walked over to the site only to be told that the event was sold out. But one of the marketing staff (Aaron Wartner) graciously allowed us to stay and enjoy the convention as his guests.

I was in LEGO heaven! We saw life-sized structures of Spider-man and Captain Jack Sparrow made entirely of LEGOs. Kids and adults were making art mosaics, towers, vehicles and all kinds of creative structures from these colorful building blocks.

What was really significant was what I didn’t see. I never saw one child use a cellphone or play a video game. Technology was replaced by colorful blocks, if only for a few hours.

I worry about the impact of technology on our family lives. Kids and their parents text instead of talk. During a meal at a restaurant we are bombarded by monitors, connecting us with images on a screen rather than the people sitting next to us.

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Here’s what I’m advising parents.

• Power down at dinnertime, and that means never answering phone calls during meals.

• No computers in children’s bedrooms, at least until high school.

• No texting or video games at meals, even at restaurants.

• Allow Facebook for teenagers only if you have access to its content.

What technology rules do you have for your family?

Next week: What’s the toughest question that kids ask me?

Reach Dr. Ramey, a child psychologist at Dayton Children’s Medical Center, at Rameyg @childrensdayton.org.

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