Saturday, November 29, 2014

Children + Technology

A couple of days ago my daughter was playing with my cellphone down near my feet. She had stole it from the table that I had placed it on, and since I was not using it at the time, I let her play with. It wasn't long before I received a text message and I heard it vibrate against her hands. Finishing up what I was doing, I bent down, explaining to her that mommy needed to see her phone for a moment. I took it away and behold, the horror. My daughter screamed, shrieked and had a melt down, because I took away my phone. Sigh,

Bug loves all things technology. She loves looking at herself in my camera after I have taken her picture, she loves to make things zoom in and out on my Husband's iPad, and she really gets a giggle out of making Siri talk on my cellphone. Even though we have kept computers away from her, every single time she sees the screen glow, she comes crawling after it. She loves the keyboard more than anything. The rhythmic clicking sound. To be honest, I absolutely love the sound the keyboard makes as I type. She will instantly become your best friend if you allow her to play with your cellphone. The only problem with this picture: my daughter is eleven months old. She should not be this in love with technology. This is my personal opinion.

Before I became pregnant, I always spoke about how I was not going to let my children watch tons of television or spend needless hours staring at the computer screen. I understand the need for a mental break and how a television can be your friend on such a day, but I refuse to let that scene be a norm for our family. I refuse to let it be a staple, a must, the ONLY way I can cope or get some peace. I joked with my husband how I wasn't going to let our children have a cellphone until they started driving, or that when they used the computers it would be for educational purposes only. I still personally believe in these things now that I have Bug, I just realized, in that moment of her shrieking at me, that it is in my actions during that day that caused this meltdown to happen.

We are a very heavy focused technology family. My husband is in school and is currently aiming for a job that uses a computer the entire time. I am a writer, who not only has this blog, but is working on several books, praying that at least one of them will make it into publication. However, between the 'work' we also have the 'play.' A day doesn't go by in which Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook get checked, that Clash of Clans gets played, that hockey and basket ball scores get reviewed, that emails get sent etc. The majority of our evenings are spent watching Netflicks as well as playing games as well as writing as well as _____ insert here. There was actually one night, two nights ago, that my phone was charging and my computer was in the living room. I watched an episode of Suits without multitasking and I went to bed straight afterwards. I had the best sleep I have had in a very long time. I am trying to paint you the picture of how technology stands in our house. No wonder Bug wants to be in on it. I am showing her that it is a every day occurrence to be on some form of technology. That its a "have to."

In our society, it feels like no matter where I look, where I turn, it is all about the need for technology. I feel like the ages of children having cellphones is getting younger and younger. That most homes have a television in several rooms, that most people spend their every moments on some form of social media or another, watching television, playing games etc. That the only way any of can truly function is if we have a piece of technology that we can be glued to at all times. Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying that I never want my children to ever be in front of a piece of technology. I love the idea of watching movies together on a rainy night, or curling up in bed when a child is sick watching something that would make them laugh. I just don't believe that it should be a daily habit. But where does that start? Obviously I cannot play on my phone and expect my child to not be interested in what I hold in my hand.

My husband and I have started talking about how there needs to be a line drawn between 'work' and 'play' time. It is both of our dreams to be able to work from home, but if that happens, we cannot also play on our cellphones or spend minute after minute checking the scores of some hockey game. There needs to be a disconnect. We need to find a balance between our day jobs and the rest of our day. We need to say no to the many ways a piece of technology that can distract us and learn to keep them on the table. To treasure the moments that no camera needs to capture, to go outside and appreciate what the day has to offer, to live moments instead of reading about other peoples moments, to play games with each other instead of getting caught up by ourselves.

Bug is pretty good about playing with herself. And the times that she was technology crazy didn't cause me any concern until the meltdown by my feet. She hasn't reacted that way again, but even still, it was a wake up call for me. Just because she likes it, doesn't mean that I need to give Bug my cellphone. I am not going to encourage others to give her their phones either. I am not going to spend my moments with her typing in front of her, while refusing to let her come near my computer. I, instead, am going to take more time away from my technology habits. I can do my work while she is sleeping anyways. I do not need to be on Pinterest or Instagram, I do not need to know what's happening on Facebook, I do not need to distract my child for thirty minutes and put her in front of the television. There are many other ways to 'distract' a child, and thankfully, Bug is very good about playing, and reading, and walking with her Hippo just long enough so that I can finish up the dishes or sweep the floors etc. I just need to remember that it is by my example that my children will learn from.

What are we doing to our children? Why are we filling their days with more gadgets to play with? More stimulation, have we forgotten about everything else that is important? I personally think that children and technology should not mix, but since we live in a technological world and we both have computer relying jobs, our daily job is remembering that there is so much more out there in this world of ours. With puzzles and puppets, imaginary play, card games, reading books, dancing, playing outside and building forts, this is how I want my child to grow up. Doing these things. Not screaming at her piece of machinery because its running slower than normally. So I am putting down my phone, I am turning off my computer, I am taking a step back, so that my daughter can realize the importance of imagination play.

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