This year’s hurricane season brought extensive power outages to areas of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. In some cases, electricity was restored in two or three days. In much of Puerto Rico, however, the electricity has been off for weeks, and may not be restored for months.
While most news stories from storm-devastated regions focused on deaths, injuries, and property destruction, a few stories mentioned a seemingly trivial issue: namely, that some families living without electricity weren’t sure what to do with their bored children. Facing a day without access to television or iPads, many children (the stories report) “have forgotten how to play.”
Clearly, these news stories are squishy and anecdotal. Moreover, the stories risk trivializing the pain and loss experienced by families who have been victimized by recent hurricanes. Before veering off to discuss children’s entertainment, I want to make it clear that my heart goes out to all the families that have lost loved ones, or their homes, in these storms.
“It’s like coming off drugs”
I recently read a news story about frazzled parents with bored children in the wake of Hurricane Maria. When I later looked for a link to the story, I couldn’t find it again.
But similar stories have been published for years. For example, in a New York Times article published in 2012, Aimee Lee Ball wrote about children deprived of electricity by tropical storm Sandy. She wrote, “The storm provided a rare glimpse of a life lived offline. It drove some children crazy, while others managed to embrace the experience of a digital slowdown.” A woman named Lauren Handel Zander “likened the first days of the blackout to rehab. ‘It’s like coming off drugs,’ she…