Thursday, November 21, 2013

Technology | Parenting Tool or Crutch?



Parenting is tough when you have ideals. Maybe a little easier when you don't. What do I mean? Before I had children I had my own ideal of how much screen time, if any, children should have. Every parent-to-be usually has some sort of opinion on that. No screen time, occasional screen time, a certain number of hours per week, no limits...

I always thought technology is a parenting crutch. Actually, I still do. But I've also come to embrace the other side of it - technology can be a helpful tool. It's a crutch when I use it to keep them busy while I need to get something done, because it's easier than coming up with some activity for them and keeps them more quiet. I use it as a tool when my preschooler watches a video about astronauts because she was so curious about outer space and wanted to see what it looks like. 

Truth is, we use technology daily both as a crutch and as a tool. But how we balance it can make a huge difference. I don't know about you, but I immediately notice a difference in my children, their attention span, and their irritability, on the days when I use technology mostly as a crutch. They become easily distracted, impatient, moody. On the other hand, when we use technology to learn, educate, or inspire - it is a positive experience all around. It is used with a different purpose and it's evident in how the children react to it. 

I believe kids need regular breaks from all technology. 
They need to be involved in real life, not just virtual. 
They need to bake with us. 
They need playgrounds. 
They need walks outside, days at the beach, library trips, social gatherings with friends, road trips, and hands-on learning. 
They need to create with their hands, it fuels their imagination. 

In fact, we all need a break, not just our children. We need to get lost in a book. We need fresh air in our lungs. We need to embrace all the experiences that make us human and not robots. We can be models to our children on wise technology use. It's great for connecting with friends and family, it's great for learning, it is often used for work, but we should be master over technology and not the other way around. 

When technology is used to fill the voids in our life, it is definitely a crutch. Instead of working to resolve our problems, we turn to social media for a constant this-just-happened fix of news from friends, family, and strangers. In turn it may even make our problems worse and contribute to depression when we start comparing ourselves to everyone else. It's so important to demonstrate to our own kids that there is a lot more to life than pop culture portrays. 

In fact, I'm convinced that a child deprived of technology has an advantage over a child that has technology but is deprived of more important things like personal and meaningful interaction, free play, and ample time outdoors!

How do you use technology in your family? Do you struggle with balancing technology as a crutch and a tool? 

Has your stance on screen time changed since you became a parent? 


2 comments:

  1. Well done! Excellent comparative points and concisely written! I can NOT express how grateful I am that when I was raising MY kids, ... we didn't really have technology to try and balance. They were raised just on the outer fringes of technological development nipping at their heels! However, as the youngest graduated high school, it was in FULL bloom! I STILL feel like I dodged a bullet. Either way, I agree with you 100%!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Shelly! Yep, it's a little different raising kids now vs. just a decade ago :)

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