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Tweens, Teens and Screens:
What’s Your Favorite Memory?

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We all have them! Favorite memories. Certain times in our lives that bring us joy when we remember. Moments that live rent free in our heads. They can lift us up when we are feeling down, or make good days even better.

It is hard for me to pick one favorite memory. Mine are a culmination of being raised on Lake Martin. To me, it is the most beauti-ful lake in the world. A little piece of heaven. I remember never ending summer days floating aimlessly for hours in front of the house. Paddling for five minutes to get to the perfect spot, only to have the waves push me back down into our little slough…and then doing it all over again. For hours. Summer after summer.

Friends always coming over, most of whom I taught to ski. So many days and nights spent cruising the lake, either trolling for fish, hanging with family, or riding around with friends. Waking up early on Saturdays to a beautiful, sunny day, and on the boat by 8 a.m. Returning around 8 p.m. tired and sunburned, and ready to do it all again Sunday.

Some of my most favorite memories that hold an incredibly special place in my heart are skiing after my dad would get home from work. At 5:30 I would be standing at the door with boat keys in hand and we would take off. This was about the time that sum-mer started to turn into fall, and while it was still warm, all of the vacationers had left to go to other homes. The water would be like glass. Not a ripple or wave. It was heaven. I would ski until the sun went down. Just me, the water, and sunsets. I will never forget those days.

Why do I share this with you? Because when I speak with students at schools or in small groups, I always ask them, “What is your favorite memory?” I then ask them to share. Now the sharing with groups usually stops around 8th grade…which I always re-spect. But I can say that, in the eight years of asking this question, NO ONE has ever started the story of their favorite memory with, “When I had my phone…” Or, “When I had my computer…” Their memories ALWAYS include being with someone they love and enjoy spending time with. And what they were doing together. No phones. No computers. And THIS is how we are meant to be. It is how we are made. For face to face connections. Together. Sharing space, time and creating memories.

Sometimes kids just have to be reminded that, while they THINK the phone is what is going bring them joy, their REAL joy comes from spending time with the people they love. If you will notice, there was not a phone anywhere in my favorite memories. Not because there weren’t phones then (thank goodness), but because my happy place, my joy, came from what I was doing, where I was and, most importantly, who I was with.

Ask your kids about their favorite memory tonight. You just might be surprised. While they are revisiting their memories, do the same for yourself. Allow it to bring you a bit of joy. Sharing mine with you sure has brought me joy.

May we all take our eyes away from technology as often as possible, be in the moment, and make memories!

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Kristi Bush serves as a national education consultant and social media safety advocate. She is a licensed social worker with greater than 15 years of clinical practice and health care experience. She attended Troy and Auburn University where she studied social work and counseling. Kristi travels nationally and has spoken with thousands of children, parents, professionals and organizations about the benefits and threats associated with social media. You may reach Kristi through her website at www.knbcommunications.com.

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