It’s been a bit since I’ve tackled a mom topic, but this go round the mamas are discussing kids and technology and I couldn’t miss my chance to chime in. Being in this blogging business obviously connects me to technology damn near 24/7. And after a decade of surfing those interwebs, seeing the tech shrink from my desk to the thing that I practically sleep with under my pillow, I definitely have a lot of conflicting emotions about what tech has brought to our lives.
So I’m going to be the square here and state right up front: I am firmly against introducing technology to young kids.
Harsh, yes, I know. Now, I don’t consider myself a hippie mom or a protect-my-kid-from-any-and- all-evils mom, but the evidence is just in your face that technology screws with our brains – but particularly the brains of children. It stunts their ability to form empathy. It rewires their ability to focus. Technology been shown to increase depression, insomnia and narcissism. It’s addictive. There is article after article after terrifying article about tech’s detrimental effects. I’m sure you’ve read most of them. If not, click on ones like this. Then there’s the anecdotal fact that I just quit social media cold turkey while on vacation last week and could literally pinpoint the dip in my mood when I started scrolling through Instagram again and saw what I’ve “missed.” But that’s likely a blog post for another time.
While I’ve got my own problems to deal with, I’ve done my best to limit technology from invading my son’s world. Granted he’s only 2.5 and still lives in our little bubble. But we’ve yet to introduce TV, there have been no iPad games, and while I have succumbed to using FaceTime and flipping through photos on the phone, I never feel great about it (and in fact, I’ve noticed my son only wants the phone more if we look at pictures too much. Time to actually print those photo books I’ve been meaning to make!). And I’ve survived! In fact, it hasn’t really been that hard. I thought for sure I’d need tech to rescue you me from some parental disaster or another, but I’ve yet to feel the need. Of course, I’m excited for the days when he can watch Sesame Street, and I wonder what his first movie will be (mine was Sleeping Beauty in the theater btw), but that’s mostly about reliving my own childhood than enriching his. He’d rather just play basketball, or trucks or sing a song. And I’m probably just lusting after the 20-minute break.
Does this mean we’ve had to leave a nice dinner when there was a meltdown? Yes. Does this mean that my six hour flights to and from a Hawaii were a bit more torturous? Yes. Do I miss watching sports on the weekends because we always keep the TV off? Sure. But limiting my son’s exposure to technology has also dramatically increased my awareness of technology’s invasion into my day. I recognize my own weaknesses and think about how lucky I was to not have to fight against them as a kid. I grew up with six TV channels and didn’t get a video game until I was 13. And yet I always wanted to sneak in more than my 30 minutes of allotted TV time.
Of course, I don’t miss the irony that I’m delivering this opinion via technology nor the fact that you’re probably reading it on your phone right now. But I also don’t miss the fact that my son notices every single time I pick up my phone. So now when he gets up from his nap, I keep my phone in a different room. I’ve turned off all notifications. I keep my laptop in my office rather than on my couch. If he doesn’t see my world revolving around tech, it won’t occur to him for his world to do the same.
So I’m going to keep trucking with this zero technology thing for as long as I can. I know as my son gets bigger and makes friends he’ll probably get exposed to TV. I know that there are some benefits to digital learning games and maybe at some point we’ll try them. I know kids will have to be fully fluent in technology to survive in today’s world, but developing that fluency is inevitable. I know I’m probably getting ahead of myself, but I read about this pledge: wait until 8th. It’s the idea that kids should not spend any significant time on smart phones until they are 14 years old. I’m into it.
Of course, I realize parents have to make their own choices about all of this and I certainly don’t judge. You’ve got to do what feels right for you. But the last decade has changed our own use of technology so dramatically, we’ve barely even had time to realize what it’s done to our relationships, our communications skills – our own health – let alone the long term effects it might have on tiny brains.
But I’m curious? What boundaries do you use with technology? How do you mamas with older kids deal? I would love to hear your thoughts. And be sure to check out the other posts from these mamas!
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