Technology: A parent's best friend or greatest rival?

Personal technology usage has become normal in a very short period of time.

Back when we were growing up (doesn’t seem that long ago… right?!) - we didn’t have any of the technology available these days… smartphones, laptops, YouTube, music streaming, gaming applications... the list goes on!

Childhood used to be filled with wonder and mischief. Bike riding, sports, playing with other kids on the street or in the bush… Basically stay outside until dinner time, and boy had you better be home by the time the street lights came on!

It was awesome. But that has all changed...

Nowadays our children’s lives are completely swamped with technology from the moment they open their eyes.

Now we aren’t suggesting that this is inherently a bad thing… for adults or children alike, but it is alarming how intertwined technology is with our lives from such a young age.

Most school assignments are computer based. Google gives us the answers to everything. There are some fantastic educational apps available. Baby monitors, smartphone tracking, home security systems… technology has definitely impacted our children’s safety.

Not to mention the toys. OMG the toys! Who doesn’t wish they were a kid when they go birthday or Christmas shopping for their own these days! The technology boom has meant that kids toys these days are a whole different ball game. (If these Star Wars themed drones don’t make you wish you were a kid again then you’re a lost cause. Wait … why do you need to be a kid to get this?? Be right back, going to the stores)...

But this isn’t where the problem lies.

The problem is with the copious amounts of time our kids are spending staring at screens. Smartphones. Tablets. SmartTVs. Portable Gaming Systems.

There is so much research out there warning us of the dangers of too much screen time... lethargy, obesity, eyesight degradation, anti-social behaviour, mental health issues… and yet how much time does the average child spend each week glued to one type of screen or another.

This is where we need to step in.

Yes, it’s easy and simple to just let them play a game on the iPad so you can finish your conversation, or to put on a movie for some much needed quiet time in the house. And yes, sometimes this is okay. We all need downtime, and we all need some time away from the constant chaos that is parenthood.

But too much time spent in front of screens starts to blur the line between technology helping us raise our children, and technology actually raising our children.

We get it… trust us, the entire DadBods movement was started because we get it.

Life is busy. Life is crazy busy! There is too much to do and it seems like there is not enough time. Sometimes allowing our children some screen time is SO convenient for us… for our jobs for our relationships, for our sanity.

But sometimes we are simply just guilty of taking the easy option, and essentially letting technology do what we are meant to do!

Take your child out to dinner with you and distract them with the iPad so you actually get to enjoy dinner?

No! Show your children how to act responsibly in a social setting so that they learn. Engaging in social settings is one of the most important skills any human can master. (Want to know just how important? Check out this DadBlog that shows it’s the top secret to a long life)

Heading to the grocery store and don’t want your kid constantly tugging on your shirt asking for lollies … so you let them bring their gaming console?

No! Take the time to teach your kid about everything to do with grocery shopping! Budgeting, nutrition, planning, moderation... you know … real life important adult stuff.

But it’s all the kids ask for now! They are already addicted. They beg and they whine and they throw tantrums to get their daily technology dose.

So what do we do???

You could try BANNING SCREEN TIME

Well… not completely. We’re not crazy.

Just set up a structure where there are heavy restrictions on when they use it and how they use it. School work? No problems, get it done. You want to read? No worries, here’s my Kindle.

But apart from that, set aside some time every day that is strictly NO SCREEN TIME. Get them outside. Go for a bike ride, go for a swim, throw a ball around, play silly pointless games. You know, normal childhood stuff. It really doesn’t matter what you do with your kids or what they do with each other if you have multiple... but just enjoy NO SCREEN TIME.

Dinner time at home? Turn off the TV and actually talk to your kids (they might just teach you something).

Want to go out? Take them with you and involve them. That’s how they learn. Real life experiences, not something derived from a screen…

We have a massive responsibility to not just make sure that our children grow into kind, smart, caring people of which we can be proud, but also to make sure we teach the next generation how to look after themselves, each other, and our planet.

Life skills, social interaction, environmental conservation, understanding the importance of health and fitness…  These lessons come from us, their parents. So let’s stand up and take back our parenthoods, and teach these kids that technology is an awesome addition to real life, but not a substitution for it.

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And if that’s not enough to persuade you to reduce your child’s screen time... maybe refresh your memory of just how annoying these kids show characters are… and see whether or not you want them grating on your mind for hours on end :)


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