What if Aristotle’s kid had an iPod? Chances are his father would have severely limited him using it and any similar electronic devices in favor of fostering human interaction, real life experiences, and face-to-face conversations. Don’t let the title fool you. If Aristotle’s Kid Had an iPod: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Parents is a very catchy title and cover photo, but it seems to contradict the actual knowledge conveyed in the book. What Conor Gallagher in his modern-day application of Aristotle’s concepts claims (in a nutshell) is that parents and children need to spend more time together unplugged. I wholeheartedly agree for a myriad of reasons.
Most of us have been out for a meal and have seen a parent talking, texting, surfing the net on their phone while their young child stares at them likely wondering what they’d have to do to get some quality time and attention. What I like best about this book is the emphasis and importance placed on close relationships and the suggestions of how we can do a better job of creating deeper bonds with our family members and friends that will lead us to true happiness and guide our children to value people and morality.
Have you forgotten what it’s like to unplug and spend quality time with the people in your life? Would you be willing to turn off the TV, cell phone, iPod, computer, game system…in order to reconnect with your loved ones? How would it affect your marriage, your relationship with your kids, your friendships if you made unplugging a regular thing in order to deepen the bonds among you?
I know I’ve definitely fallen into ruts when I am plugged in more often than not, and I can see how it adversely affects my closest relationships as well as my sense of peace and wellbeing. I’m someone who is really bothered by having the TV on all of the time because I have a hard time concentrating completely on what else is going on. I make it very clear that I cannot and will not attempt to have a serious, in-depth conversation while the TV is on or while someone has headphones on, or is using the computer. I realize part of this hang-up came from learning that we better not disturb Dad when he was watching sports on TV. We might as well not exist while there was a game on that he was interested in.
Gallagher who is married and has eight children doesn’t suggest you give away or destroy all of your electronics, nor does he condemn all forms of entertainment and interaction available through them. He simply gives a wake-up call that these are not what will make your children (or you) truly happy or satisfied in life. In fact, many of the examples he uses are based on Aristotle’s theories and recent scientific research that support the philosopher’s fundamental claims.
My hands-down favorite passages of the book are those with clear messages that Aristotle would have unplugged his kid. Gallagher provides parents with what he calls: “Aristotle’s Challenge” to help you and your children see how deeply entrenched many of us have become in the world of electronic gizmos and gadgets to the detriment of real life and real time interactions.
Usually, I’m not much one for underlining or highlighting books that I’m reading, but there’s one paragraph that grabbed me and won’t let me go, so I had to mark it. Here’s an excerpt from it: “…With the onslaught of TV and game systems Androids and iPods and iPads and e-mail, we’ve begun to ignore our own family members. There’s too much interruption and too much noise. It’s very hard to turn off all the devices and simply talk. Chances are good you’ve forgotten how…” (pg. 96)
Aristotle was right about many things, including what brings true fulfillment in life: the pursuit of virtue and the strengthening of relationships. I’ve been aware for quite some time that being plugged in all or most of the time harms relationships, but If Aristotle’s Kid Had an iPod reminded me of the bigger reasons why we need to make a shift as much for our own lives as for kids and others closest to us.
For more information about If Aristotle’s Kid Had an iPod: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Parents or to order your own copy of the book, click here. I received a free copy of this book from Saint Benedict Press in order for writing an honest review of it.