I do love technology. I am pro-technology, and though I do have my share of nostalgia for old-school things like vinyl and photo film, I am convinced that digital rules. But when I became a parent, I started to have concerns about kids on devices, probably because that is the constant message we parents get. So, I started to wonder how bad was it really. Here’s How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Kids Technology.
It wasn’t until I became a parent when I started to have my doubts and concerns. We all heard those things about technology: children get all spoiled and lazy, they lack fantasy and do not know how to play anymore, they need to be entertained constantly.
To avoid all this, you should understand one thing: technology is not a devil, it’s a tool. If you using it right, it will never spoil or harm your children.
Many parents still regard technology as necessary evil. They realize that fighting it is futile since everyone around is using it, but still grumble about “kids today are always glued to their devices” and “back in my days”.
So what has gone wrong now and what do we do to put things right again?
“Kids don’t play outside anymore”
Okay, what did you do back in your days? The first and most probable answer is “we played outside”. So let your kids go outside!
I have never seen I preschooler who would prefer playing Fruit Ninja to playing hide-and-seek with their peers. It is we, parents, who make them stay home because we think it is safer this way.
Yes, our kids become lazy.
Yet it happens not because of tablets and phones – it happens because initially we are too lazy to hang around with them on a playground twice a day when they are toddlers, or when we are too protective to let them go alone when they are older. Then, when they are fourteen, we wonder why they prefer a laptop to a bike.
“Kids don’t talk to each other, they stare at the screen”
Sad but true. The saddest thing about it is that they only mimic us.
All primary social skills are family-instilled. They look at us to learn their conduct. They are staring at their screens and typing unceasingly because they think that is what adults do, and what therefore is good.
If you want them to communicate in person and bond with their peers, start talking to them. Start talking to your partner, to your friends, get disconnected from the web for dinners and weekends.
Curb your own screen time and then set limits for your children. Be sure to do this before you turn from role models into “uncool old folks”. Then it is definitely too late.
“They don’t remember anything”
Another thing that parents often blame on technology is that children are easily distracted and forgetful. They don’t remember anything; why should they when everything is there, on the internet. They are always one second away from all the information they may need.
Let me disagree. If children do not bother to remember something, they just don’t find it interesting or important enough. If they refuse to make an effort and cram – that is because they fail to see how this information is useful. As simple as that.
Our brain is hardwired to catch and save information that is fascinating or vital. Technology cannot cancel this. What it can do, however, is provide us with many tools to shape the information we want to feed to our children into appealing eatable chunks.
The internet is the largest and the most diverse source of information ever. It is our task to incite our children for self-learning, to ignite their curiosity.
Children always prefer fun and games to study, and they always have, like when playing noughts and crosses helped us learn logic, or playing shop helped us learn addition and subtraction. Technology has not changed that, except now there are apps that help with that learning through play.
“Kids today are exposed to violence and explicit content”
The most notorious thing about digital technology is the accessibility of “adult content” for the underage. The same thing my mother used to say about television. The same thing her mother used to say about cinema. Just as her mother did about modern books and theater (to say nothing of those naughty postcards).
Let me disappoint those, who believe there ever was a golden age of innocence: years before children were not protected better; some of them could even be exposed to violence and explicit scenes at home. You cannot blindfold your child and let their eyes see only things that are decent, fair and age-appropriate.
However, you can educate them, to reduce “the forbidden fruit” factor. You can also get apps that allow you to have parental control on their devices (like the Mobile Minder app or the iPhone Internet filter from pumpic.com) and block the way for anything really harmful. And this is probably much easier to implement then eliminating all nasty tapes from the local video rental shop, isn’t it?.
Technology may bring some risks, but it also empowers you to create a walled garden of safety for your children, if you know how.
The power of technology is inspiring. I remember how I used to learn things when I was at school. If I was not sure of the word’s meaning, I would ask my mom. She would explain it or give me the Encyclopedic Dictionary that was the ultimate source of knowledge in our home. If something was not there or the information was insufficient, I had to go to the library, where The Encyclopædia Britannica awed me as a shining sea of information. If I failed to get what I wanted to know from there, then… that was just it, and the question could haunt me for years.
Now your child can get oodles of information by a single keyword (and so do you). If my llittle girl and I want to know what was that blossom we admired during the morning walk, we google for pictures together and a few seconds later we both know a bit more about our beautiful world.
Isn’t this enough to fall in love with technology every single day?
Over to you! Do you love or loathe your children’s relationship with technology? Let us know in the comments below.