J. D. Heyes
January 6, 2013
The “Google generation” is in danger of losing its creativity, warns one of Great Britain’s most successful inventor, because they tend to rely on the Internet for just about everything, which is putting them in danger of becoming “brain dead.”
Trevor Baylis, 75, inventor of the wind-up radio, said kids today are losing creativity and practical skills because they are spending far too much time staring at a computer screen, Britain’s Daily Mail reports.
Because of that, Baylis says he fears that future generations of inventors are being lost as too few young people are able to make things with their hands. That said, Baylis believes children could re-learn vital practical skills if schools used Meccano – a model construction kit featuring reusable angle strips, girders, wheels, nuts and bolts – as well as other practical toys.
‘I used to go out and collect the rubbish
“Children have got to be taught hands-on, and not to become mobile phone or computer dependent,” he told the paper. “They should use computers as and when, but there are so many people playing with computers nowadays that spend all their time sitting there with a stomach.”
Baylis said kids are “dependent on Google searches.”
“A lot of kids will become fairly brain-dead if they become so depending on the Internet, because they will not be able to do things the old-fashioned way.”
The inventor said the world was much different when he was younger, adding that he was about five or six years old when he began inventing devices.
“During (World War II), when I was not at school, I used to go out and collect the rubbish,” Baylis told the Mail. “One day I was out and went to this house around the corner from where I grew up in Southall, Middlesex, and this lady said, ‘I’ve got a box of stuff for you, Trev, you’d better get a wheelbarrow.’ So I picked up this thing and on the way back I was intrigued and I looked inside and it turned out to be a huge Meccano set.”
He said if he wanted to “make a five-wheeled motor car” or “a forklift truck,” he could.
“And that’s really what it is about, because that stays with you all your life.”
The award-winning inventor said he believes simple challenges in school, using tools like Meccano model kits and other practical skills games.
“With Meccano,” Baylis said, “you could do your own reproduction of, say, the Sydney Harbor Bridge,” located in Sydney, Australia.
“If you brought Meccano back into primary or secondary schools then you’d have class one against class two – you’ve got four hours to make the Sydney Harbor Bridget and we’ll see which one is the strongest,” said Baylis, many of whose inventions were aimed at helping the disabled.
A comparable toy in the U.S. would be the Erector Set, a construction-type of toy dating back to World War I, enabled children to build structures like bridges, building frames, biplanes and other gizmos.
Others agree: Kids spend too much time online
Baylis said much of his motivation came from an accident he had when he was working as a circus stunt man.
“I did an underwater escape act in Berlin circus in 1970,” he told the Mail. “When I was in the circus I had a very passionate affair with an aerial ballet star, a lovely girl from Vienna.
“One night she bounced off the net and hit the side and died halfway through the show, and it broke my heart,” he said. “I suddenly realized disability is only a banana skin away.”
The inventor still has a workshop where he tinkers with inventions.
Other experts are also concerned kids are spending too much time online and playing video games.
Parents “should be encouraging their kids to do other things,” says child psychologist Robert Myers. “As far as brain development goes, playing with toys, building things for younger kids, fantasy play are much more important in child development than what you’re going to watch on a screen.”
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