I had this post in my drafts for sometime, it’s been on the tip of my brain for a long time. Every time I talk about it or go to write about it, it instantly becomes a touchy subject and seems to come out all wrong. Most anything that relates back to parenting, becomes a touchy subject because there is no one way to talk about it – there are millions of sides to the parenting story because we are all different individuals doing whats best for our own little individuals. So because I think and am interested in how to navigate childhood in this technology age, I wanted to talk about it but not preach but rather share how we handle raising our 2 kids in this age of technology and then ask you how you do it. This is what works for us, and our kids with their temperaments, dynamics and at their current ages (it all plays into it). Which may not work for our neighbors, for you, or the family across the world. Everyone’s circumstances and family dynamics are totally different, so something that might work for you might not work for me and vice versa. Basically, no (I mean, NO) judging but this is what works for us. And I’d love it if you would also share how you raise your kid(s) so that this doesn’t have to be a sad childhood quote? Make sense?
The way I see it, the basic skills it takes to use an iphone, a tablet or a computer, are pretty innate (when you are young, key) and they don’t really need to be fostered (like other skills in life that do need to be). The importance of learning how to play, share, read, be social, be empathetic and interact on an eye contact human level, feel much more important and are skills that need fostering and attention. From my personal, everyday experience I know that it takes no time to acquire the skills to use an iPhone or iPad (I was blown away when my kids first used my phone) and it also takes no time to become addicted to using them (again, from personal experience).
And because this feels like a heavy subject and so far this post is all black and white, here are some colorful pictures thrown in of the kids having fun in the leafs to lighten the mood around here a little.
Limit individual screen time. We save iphone games (we don’t own a tablet or a handheld gaming system – might make limiting easier?) for those times when desperation is calling: Mom’s dr appointments, on our way home WAY past bedtime (just stay awake till we get home), maybe a road trip and as a special treat once in a while. We mostly try to opt out of screen time that allows the kids to totally ignore everyone and everything around them, which means any screen time that leaves them off on their own with the glare of blue light in their face. We don’t have other screen time rules or times when they can be used, other than not really letting them play on handhelds. TV and Movies are okay in our home, in moderation – but the choice of what to watch needs to be a group decision, making the screen time a zoned out social family time (it fits better for us then individual screen time). King has started to ask for video games, because it seems to be the age – for that we are looking at something (as a Christmas gift for both kids) we can have in the family room (staying away from individual handhelds) and again save those future game times as family group activities (till they are teenagers and want nothing to do with us, that is).
We avoid handing off the phone/tablet and instead opt for some classic distraction, rewards and entertainment (the same kind my parents used). We play a lot of “I spy”, “rock paper scissors” (a new favorite), tic tac toe, tell knock knock jokes, count colors of cars or people’s coats, packing coloring and drawing with us when we go out, bringing books along, and for Xmas some travel games are on my list.
Outside more than in. The more we stay at home, the more the kids start to request games and electronics – out of boredom. So we spend more time outside, exploring, playing at the park, sports and just out in the city. Life is just better when we are outside, those skills that need to be fostered are given attention and everyone is just happy and eventually tired.
Only offer learning games. When those special treat moments come up, or those times when a “no thank you” turns into a “sure, you can play with my phone” answer. The only “games” that are on my phone available for them to play are learning games, hooked on phonics being the main one right now. Technology can be good especially when it’s doing something to help or better us, in that sense it can be a benefit childhood. Also, I often hand one phone to two kids and tell them to share – still staying away from individual screen time. One of King’s friends asked if he could play on my phone the other day, King piped up before I could answer “she only has boring games, let’s play tag” sooooo I guess that’s a win, win? Sorta.
Moderation. Really no other way to put it. And one I myself need to work on, really I need to be better at limiting my technology (I try to be mindful, but often fall short). Because really there is no better way to teach kids how to do something then to show them with your actions that you can also do it/follow the same rules.
Technology cannot be avoided, nor should it – it does have many pluses (I’m just mostly focusing on the minuses).
I’d love to hear your point of view. How do you navigate technology when parenting? I know this is a very individual topic and will be totally different for every family child, so tell me your thoughts: how do we raise our kids so that technology doesn’t take from their childhood, but instead adds to it?
image from Hp Lyrikz.com