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Can a Game of Peek-a-Boo Change the World?

August 15, 2021 | by Slovie Jungreis-Wolff

Taking to heart the message of Molly Wright, the youngest person to deliver a Ted Talk.

“What if I tell you that a game of peek-a-boo can change the world?”

This question was posed by seven-year-old Molly Wright, the youngest person to ever deliver a TED talk. Her message was simply beautiful: Molly asked that we put down our devices and connect with our children.

She stood on stage with her one-year-old friend, Ari. He laughed and cooed to the audience. He was then accompanied by his dad, Amarjot, to help deliver her point. A screen showed father and son playing a game of peek-a-boo together. Little Ari giggled with delight. But when dad took out his iPad and ignored his one year old, the child struggled for his father’s attention.

It was painful to watch. Ari’s entire demeanor changed. Laughter was replaced with tears. He tried to reach out to his father, to touch his face, to have him just look at him.

If a whole childhood was like those last 30 seconds, imagine how hard it would be for a child to feel calm, safe, to learn to trust anyone, Molly explained.

Every moment together is an opportunity to connect, if we stop looking at out phone.

Her words reminded me of a conversation I recently had. The woman told me that when visiting her daughter who had a baby, she noticed something that made her stomach drop. While feeding the baby instead of looking at her infant, her daughter was glued to her iPhone. “My little granddaughter kept cooing, trying to catch her mommy’s attention, but there was only silence. She was connected to her screen. After a while, the baby was silent too. She just gave up. What will be?” she asked me.

Molly's message has gone viral. “Every moment together is an opportunity to connect, talk and play. Imagine the difference we could make if everyone, everywhere did this. To us. To children. It’s so much more than just a game. It’s our future.”

This TED talk also gave five key tips to ensure healthy development:

  • Connecting
  • Talking
  • Playing
  • Providing a healthy home
  • Community

These keys may seem simple but in fact they are life changing. It’s about communicating with our children, talking to them and allowing imaginations to soar while playing. It’s about creating a home filled with love and providing a sense of community that envelops us with the knowledge that we are not alone in this world.

Children who grow up gaining these skills are able to better make friends, take tests, get jobs, and eventually start families of their own. Molly cited research that shows that when parents are distracted by their digital devices it reduces their ability to forge connections with their children. As children grow they will struggle more.

Molly's message is simple, but life changing. Put down your phone and look at the people in your life, especially those you love. One game of Peek-a-Boo can indeed change the world.

Watch Molly's Ted Talk below:


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