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Kids addicted to smartphones? Play them The Beatles!


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Sarah Robsdottir - published on 07/17/18

John, Paul, George, Ringo and what’s good, beautiful and true.

An interesting thing happened when a recent turn of the radio dial led to a van full of boys singing We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine … 

Although they’d never heard the song before, my shaggy-haired sons joined in quickly, smiling and bouncing from the back seat. I caught a glimpse of the action in the rearview mirror and the look in their eyes — it was as if the finger-smudged windows of our van disappeared and were replaced with the glowing walls of a … you know (read it to the rollicking rhythm of the song) yellow submarine.  

So I downloaded a Beatles album and listened to it on our next outing with my dad. He’s a musician and was able to explain why The Beatles were the best band of the last century.

“They mastered just about every genre and style,” he said, “from rock — ‘She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah’ to the ballad — ‘Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away …’”

The second we arrived home, my oldest dug out my guitar and another son printed out the sheet music for “Eight Days A Week.” Obligatory piano practice time exploded intojoyful, perpetual, play-constantly-because-I love it” time.  And those smartphones, the ones I keep on the kitchen counter and usually monitor like a hawk?  

Yeah, they forgot about ‘em.  

I mean it — the smartphones, the tablets, the laptops and even the TV — these devices literally collected dust because my kids tasted something more good and beautiful and true than the screens had to offer.  And as a mom, this has been a huge relief because fighting the good fight when it comes to battling screen abuse is exhausting (check out the stats — 50 percent of teens polled claim to be addicted to their smartphones).

But let’s get back to the good, the beautiful and the true — these traditional pillars of a Christian education that actually have their basis in Greek philosophy are worth pondering. A few years ago, Pope Francis kicked off the school year by tweeting a word of thanks to teachers:  “Educating is an important mission, which draws young people to what is good, beautiful and true.”  

And what could be more good, beautiful and true to budding ‘tween musicians than the highest-selling band of all time who wrote and performed award-winning, crowd-frenzying songs comprising mostly the same four chords?  

Yup, The Beatles. These guys — John, Paul, George and Ringo — have thankfully made my kids ditch their screens for the past few weeks, but that’s just because my kids are into music. Perhaps drawing your children to the good, the beautiful and the true will look a little different.  Maybe it’ll mean hiking a new path or dusting off a sewing machine and creating something new. Maybe the good, the beautiful and the true for your young doodler means a trip to the art museum, tracing paper and a collection of Picassos to copy. Because as parents, it gets super tiresome to be constantly putting up boundaries (i.e.: “gaming only on weekends”).

That’s why it’s such a joy to, as Pope Francis stated above, “draw a child to the good, the beautiful and the true” and simply set them free.  

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