Consuming vs. Creating

Consuming vs. Creating September 22, 2014

I read this article (Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent) in the New York Times a few days ago and have been mulling over some of the highlights for a few days. Interestingly, it wasn’t necessarily the broader points about boundaries (while allowing for the reality that we live in a technological world) or the final note that Steve Jobs home encouraged educational discussions over dinner and family time that were the most memorable (although I was thrilled to read all of it, and thought it a fairly balanced article). Rather, it was this point on a type of limit to consider creating in the home, in addition to time, that resonated and struck a chord:

Ali Partovi, a founder of iLike and adviser to Facebook, Dropbox and Zappos, said there should be a strong distinction between time spent “consuming,” like watching YouTube or playing video games, and time spent “creating” on screens.

As I’ve noted before, I feel the effects (and notice them among others), of  spending too much time with technology. But I know that (for me) any sense of need to ‘reign it in’, is purely because of the way I’m using it. When I spend time in ‘consuming’ mode, it’s easier to loose track of time and indeed waste it for no good purpose, usually purely on myself. And, frankly, consuming mode rarely uses my brain in any sort of real way (but maybe others are reading something like the Summa online? This does not apply to you if so!).

When I use it as a tool, however, it is much easier to manage time spent with it, there is something produced to speak of after the fact, and whatever is produced is often not purely for myself. I’m not in any way saying that consuming is always bad, but this distinction has already helped me consciously use our various technological tools better in the midst of already busy family life.

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  • Katrina

    J, thank you so much for bringing this article to our attention! I wholeheartedly agree – I wrote this post about a similar topic related to our children at the beginning of last year:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/buildingcathedrals/2012/09/teaching-children-to-be-creators-and-not-just-consumers/

    I like the distinction between using technology for creative vs. consuming purposes. While I”m thankful that I can be a consumer online – I save a lot of time with certain purchases, for example – I’m going to spend some time thinking about the amount of time that I spend doing this.

  • Queen B

    Great points, J! I read this article too, and it reinforces my tech opinions based on what I know from the medical literature and what I have found to be true for our young family.

  • Catie H

    What a great point about consuming vs. creating! Thanks for this insight. You’re right, it defines such a palpable difference in how we spend screen time. There’s play (consuming) and there’s work (creating).

  • J’

    oh my goodness, yes, I should have linked to this post! You worded everything so beautifully! Thanks for reminding us!