I am the mother of three little boys, ages six, four and ten months old. My two older children each have their own tablets, know how to unlock Daddy’s iPad, often ask me to text their friend’s mothers for a play date, and know how to Skype. It amazes me that children at such young ages are so proficient in technology, although I shouldn’t be that surprised since they are constantly surrounded by it, both at home and in school.
When I was their age, I was playing with Barbie Dolls, dressing up, and relying on the world of pretend to entertain myself. Kids are definitely growing up faster these days and it is really scary as a parent. I see eleven year olds with Facebook pages and I wonder, don’t these kids see each other at school everyday? Do they sit in the lunchroom and text each other even though they sit next to each other? Are we allowing technology to take over our children’s lives?
Parents definitely have to pay attention to how technology plays a role in their child’s life. As mentioned, my children have tablets that were given to us as gifts. The point of these gifts were so the boys could read books and play educational games, but of course the majority of the time they want to play Angry Birds. My rule is for every mindless game they play, they have to focus on two educational games or books. I think tablets are a wonderful resource for kids but we can’t lean on them as a babysitter. I am proud to say that a large portion of my children’s free time is spent outside, which to me as a parent, is a must! There is nothing like getting fresh air, running around, throwing a football and playing a good old game of tag. If the weather doesn’t allow us to go outside, playing a board game is a great way for us to have fun indoors instead of the boys staring at a tablet for two hours. Everyone is busy but there has to be time set aside to interact with your child. Sticking them in front of a TV or using a tablet to keep them busy while you’re busy can be convenient, but it shouldn’t be a habit. There is nothing wrong with downtime and allowing your children to rest, relax and do those things, but it can’t be the go to every time.
The world is changing every day and the rapid growth of technology is both exciting and scary. Our children have to be taught and prepared for the world we live in now and for the future, and that world is not the one I grew up in. Sometimes I wonder if life was simpler back then, without the plethora of different wireless devices we have to choose from now, making it challenging to disconnect. My six year old recently asked me for an iPhone and an iPod Touch. Really? Is that something he needs? I think NOT! I always tell him I didn’t have a cell phone till I was in my 20’s, which according to today’s standards, is unheard of. I do secretly wonder how I survived college without one. How did I get in touch with anyone, meet up with friends and stay in the know? I guess if you don’t know something exists, you don’t miss it.
As time goes by and technology advances, more and more of what we considered standard learning will disappear. How do we feel about cursive writing exiting the classrooms? Is it necessary? What will be the effect on children if they are not exposed to it? Personally, I use cursive when I write checks and of course sign my name. I know some people that don’t even have checkbooks anymore and do everything online. While I think it’s important to touch upon cursive in the school systems, we have to teach our children to be equipped with the right tools for the future, and there will most likely be more keyboards pounded than pencils sharpened.
I am excited for my children as they are growing up in a time where technology is rapidly growing, and introducing wonderful opportunities for them to learn with. Technology is going to expose our children to things that we never could have imagined for them and what parent isn’t excited about that? As long as we ensure our children disconnect and remind them to just be kids, I believe our children will flourish. We always wish for our children to have what we didn’t have, and they most certainly do!
As the founder of Mommy Masters®, I teach families how to flourish, and provide parents with the best tips, tricks and tools to do so. Let’s put down the cell phones, tablets and laptops, and disconnect. Think of ways to spend quality time with your children by creating fun and educational ways to connect with them. When is the last time you had a dance party with your child? “Music is Magical”, my children’s CD, is a great way to sing, dance and learn together. Whether your child is learning to potty train, needs a lesson in manners, or is nervous about the first day of school, my music is an excellent parenting tool that touches upon important topics that families experience together. Why not create your own song and put on a show? The ideas are endless. Finding a balance between technology and disconnecting is key and will benefit our children in the long run.