Why America Needs More Tackle Boxes and Less Xboxes
It’s a sad state of affairs when you look around to see exactly what we have all become in a short period of time…
Almost every single one of us (myself included) have become addicts.
We are addicted to our phones, to our laptops, to our tablets, to our Xboxes, and to being “connected”, entertained, and plugged-in almost every waking hour…
You know it, I know it, your boss knows it, your friends know it, your neighbors know it, your priest knows it, God knows it…
Heck, we all know it because 98% of us are guilty of letting these handheld devices, Xboxes, tablets, and “connected” devices run our lives…
But that isn’t really the sad part.
The sad part is that our kids, our future generation, know it as well…
Our kids are looking up to us as leaders, as parents, and as influencers while we shamefully speak to them, take them places, teach them, and parent them with a phone strapped to our hands most of the time… in many instances answering our kids questions without even looking up from our phones.
It is no wonder 5 and 6-year-olds are asking for cell phones and Xboxes as their “Must Have” gift for their birthday and Christmas gift these days! Many of their friends have them, and no kid wants to be the last on the block to have something cool.
Whatever happened to 5 and 6-year olds getting their first bike, skateboard, or something that you could use outside???
Regarding the phones, can you imagine what today’s kids must think of cell phones based on our behavior… they are certainly thinking:
“Cell phones must be a TON of FUN because everywhere I look people can’t seem to get off of them… including my own parents…”
Not the best example that we are setting…
Yes, our very own children are becoming addicts as well… and the sad misconception is that these young kids think it is super cool to be so connected… but as parents, we are starting to see just how disconnected these kids are with the world around them.
This younger generation is having trouble communicating, they are the most overweight generation in the history of America, they are on more medications and anti-depressants than any other generation, and most of them spend very little time outside.
They are learning from us, they are watching us, and they want nothing more than to be like us. Sadly, the long-term consequences of kids starting their addictions to a cell phone or Xbox controller stuck in their hand at a young age will result in catastrophe for many of them when they get out in the real world.
It’s like the kid everyone knew growing up that got incredibly addicted to drugs or alcohol before anyone else even thought about trying it. Sadly, it usually doesn’t end well for the kids that get hooked the earliest…
They haven’t had time to mature, they haven’t had time to learn critical skills (like communicating, self-confidence skills), and they haven’t seen how dumb other people look when addicted and abusing something (whether it be alcohol, cell phone, Xbox, etc.)
Let’s face it, we have become a society of addicts… and the future doesn’t look pretty.
The Addiction Test
Do you want to know if you really have an addiction problem or not?
Then take this quick test:
When you wake up tomorrow morning, turn your phone off, leave it at home (if you drive to work), and don’t open it or turn it on for an entire 24 hours.
I am willing to bet most of you can’t.
I am willing to bet most of you come up with an excuse to why you can’t. Excuses such as:
- But I might have an important email or text
- That my family or kids might need to get in touch with me
- What if there is an emergency?
Those all are excuses that addicts tell themselves!
If there is an emergency, you will find out about it. Didn’t we all find out about emergencies prior to a cell phone being permanently placed in everyone’s hands?
And what I have found is that there is rarely ever an email or text so important that the world will end if it gets attention a day later.
Quick story: I have accomplished this turning of the phone completely off for a full day in a few instances over the years. Sometimes it was due to international travel, while other times it was just to disconnect. During one of my “no phone” periods I was working a job that was 100% phone sales! And I usually would have 30-40 incoming calls per day from financial advisors needing advice on certain products. But I still turned it off for a full 24 hours.
And guess what…
I lived through it! I survived and the world didn’t end.
In fact, what I found out was that it wasn’t so scary, and I didn’t lose a single client. Anything that someone needed on the spot, they went out and found the answer from someone else anyways. It was liberating, it lowered my stress, and I highly encourage everyone to unplug from all of your devices and video games as often as you possibly can.
Because the truth is that these devices are controlling our lives. They have taken over to the point that most of us would immediately turn our car around if we realized we had left our phone at home while driving to work, to pick up our kids, or even to run to the grocery store.
It has really become sad, and we’ve got to get our lives back people. More importantly, we need to set better examples for this upcoming generation, as the future of our country is at stake with whether we want to admit it or not.
Here is a real-life example of how many of us (not just college kids) are acting like phone-crazed zombies… Does this look familiar?
Here is the deal. If you, your spouse, or your kids can’t go 24 hours without a smartphone, Xbox, or any connected device, then you have a problem.
More specifically, we have a problem as a society and a country. And I am part of the problem as well, so don’t think for a minute that I am here pointing fingers.
We are all in this together.
Before I reveal my solution, I want to be completely clear that I don’t hate technology by any stretch of the imagination, I am not against handheld devices, and I am certainly not against the Internet.
Side Note: I am not the biggest fan of Xbox (in fact I have only played it one time in my life and I didn’t really enjoy it. To me, it was nothing like the original Nintendo with just two simple buttons and a 4-direction thumb pad…)
And what I really want to make clear is that all of this technology and digital entertainment should be a good thing.
However, the problem arises when it starts to take control of us, when it starts to run our lives (instead of the other way around), and when we can’t go more than a few minutes without being connected or without a phone or a controller in our hands.
That is called an addiction.
The truth is that all of these things can be amazing tools when used in moderation. Same goes for anything in life.
However, I think part of the bigger issue of why this seems to be spiraling out of control is because everyone compares themselves to someone they know that has a worse problem than themselves. We tend to justify our addiction to our phone, Xbox, or Internet by saying things like, “Well if you think I have a problem, you should see Johnnie down the street… he is in the process of getting his phone and Xbox controller permanently glued on his hands…”
That is like drinking 18 beers a day and telling yourself, your family, and your kids that you don’t have a problem because Otis the town drunk drinks 24 beers a day.
That is the key with anything in life.
Now let’s get on to my solution of why America needs more tackle boxes and less Xboxes…
Now I am not claiming to have an answer that will immediately solve the problem of “disconnected” kids, but I do have a solution that will significantly help our kids, families, and society as a whole.
To begin, let’s all face the cold hard facts that we can’t eliminate cell phones, Xboxes, or any type of connected device no matter how much we might want to some days.
So that means we must beat it at its own game.
Let me explain.
In my opinion, the only way to compete with an Xbox or a cell phone is to give your kids real life, hands-on experiences that they won’t forget. I will repeat, as it bears repeating,
REAL LIFE EXPERIENCES
Let’s face it, these Xbox and computer games are becoming so realistic that it is no wonder kids are as addicted as they are… to them it looks and feels like the real world.
But what is the only thing better than a computer generated experience?
Actually experiencing something awesome in REAL LIFE.
If you don’t know much about me yet, then you might not know that I recently sold pretty much everything I had to start this saltwater fishing company with my brother Luke. And it wasn’t because we were money hungry business tycoons looking for a quick buck in the fishing industry…
- It was because fishing had that much of an impact on our lives as kids.
- It was because fishing bonded our family.
- It was because the experiences that we had on the water changed our lives for the better.
- It was because the experiences we had on the water engrained fond memories that will never be forgotten.
These fishing experiences had such an impact that I left an industry that had served me well, where I was at an all-time high in my 13-year career… all because of the impression that fishing and being outside with my loved ones has had on me.
I tell you all of this only to relay the fact that the experiences of fishing can have profound effects on people. Effects so powerful that they can trump anything… certainly an Xbox or a cell phone.
And I have yet to meet a kid (or adult) that has felt the end of their fishing rod go down and has forgotten the story.
In fact, one thing that has absolutely brought a smile to my face is anytime I am speaking with young kids, I always ask them if they have ever been fishing before, and here is what usually happens:
Their face lights up, they start talking a bit faster than they were earlier, and before you know it, I am witnessing a kid come alive just reliving the story as he or she tells it to me. In many cases, there were hardly any fish caught, it was more the experience of being out there with their grandparent, parents, or friends, etc.
To reiterate, these young kids can regurgitate every last detail of their fishing trip from years ago, yet they certainly can’t tell you what video game they were playing a year ago.
This is good news.
It means these “real life” experiences are having an impact far beyond any Xbox game or handheld device. Now it is our job as parents to create more “real life” experiences for our children.
As you can probably guess by now, my solution is to get them OUTSIDE, preferably with a fishing pole in their hand. One of the big misconceptions many parents have is that they need to be on a boat or that they need to save up for expensive gear.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Our kids just want our time, they want our undivided attention, and they want to experience things with us. If that means all we can afford is a cane pole, a small hook, and some bread to catch bream in a lake, then so be it.
My little girl still talks about her first fish (a small bream off of a dock in Winter Haven, FL where my parents live) that she caught when she was two years old. There was no boat, no fancy equipment, and only a few small fish.
But what is crazy is that today she does NOT recall her two-year-old birthday party (where we had over 50 friends come to our house and spent hundreds of dollars on food, cake, balloons, and adult beverages), but she remembers the small bream she caught with a $15 fishing rod… and she talks about it regularly.
Let that sink in.
America, I will leave you with this… It is time that we start replacing Xbox time with Tackle Box time, cell phone time with outdoor time, camping time, hiking time, or simply just playing in the backyard.
Get your kids, yourselves, and your family outdoors. It will pay huge dividends down the road. It has the power to bring your family closer together. It has the power to make profound changes.
Xboxes and cell phone do not…
When I was growing up, my parents had a rule that if it wasn’t’ raining, and the sun hadn’t set, then we were outside.
No exceptions: Play sports, fish, jump rope, swim, do something besides watching TV or playing Nintendo.
My goal is to have the same rule with my kids. The one caveat is that I will have to specify that they can’t have a cell phone in their hand, taking pictures of everything they are doing outside and posting it to Instagram for the world to see…
So my challenge to you is this:
This weekend, get yourself, your kids, your family, or any loved ones outside for an extended period of time with NO connected devices.
Whether it be fishing, camping, hiking, or doing anything outdoors. And if your excuse is that you need your phone to take pictures, then put your phone on airplane mode. Either that or go get a GoPro or some cheap digital camera and keep the phone shut off.
In the meantime, I will be encouraging my kids to start saving up for fishing tackle instead of video games…
Bonus: Proof It Can Work
Over the past month, my wife and I realized that we had a TV issue with our soon to be 4-year old daughter. After being incredibly strict parents for the first two years of her life in regards to TV time, we had somewhat “let loose of the reins”.
It started off with her squeezing in just an extra 15 minutes of TV time in the morning… then 30 … then an hour…
Then she wanted to watch Disney Junior at 5pm before dinner… then she was requesting it before her bath… and we quickly realized we had created a little TV monster.
Keep in mind she wasn’t just asking to watch TV kindly… she was doing her “fake crying” and being a real drama queen about it. And for a dad, I am a sucker for my girls…
But my wife and I knew that we had to put down our fists pretty hard, and nip this in the addictive behavior quickly.
It was our fault, we had enabled this behavior, and we were grown up enough to admit it. And we were also grown up enough to do something about it before it turns into a serious issue.
Here is what happened:
We went from letting her watch an hour and a half of TV per day to NO TV at all. That might seem brutal or too much for some of you, but we wanted to see what would happen.
Well for the first two days, we heard whimpering, groveling, and fairly constant begging about turning the TV back on. However, we stuck our ground and found more things for her to do outside and around our house.
And then it happened…
After just a few days of no TV, we saw our young daughter start picking out books on the bookshelf and reading every morning, with no pressure from us at all.
Then she SHOCKED us by asking my wife if she would buy her more books or take her to the library. No joke!
I leave you with this story to tell you that limiting your kids exposure (and addiction) to TV, video games, Xbox, and cell phones can be done, it should be done, and that you can do it.
America, we need more tackle boxes and less Xboxes…
P.S. – If you feel the same, please SHARE this blog with your friends, other parents, etc. Thank you!
Co-founder of Salt Strong
As a society, we have a serious issue on our hands in regards to the out of control addictions to things such as cell phones, Xboxes, computer games, and any connected device.
By becoming so “Connected”, we have “Disconnected” ourselves with the real world, with our friends, with our families, our spouses, and our kids.
And our kids are watching all of this, they are taking every bit of it in, and they are
P.S. – I am working on an open letter to Peta to address their concerns about kids learning how to fish, so stay tuned.
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