There’s no denying that the world is a different place than what it was when we were kids. Even if we wanted to parent in the way our parents did, it would be close to impossible with the current influences our children now have on their lives.
I want to talk about screens and the whole world of digital media when it comes to our kids. I was always so smug about the fact my children didn’t own a device – no iPad, no PlayStation… nothing. I would occasionally allow them to look at my phone in a waiting room or a tricky ‘unfriendly to kids’ environment, but it was never an everyday occurrence. I was happy with this and thought I could outsmart the world and keep my children away from the addictive nature of screens.
Then came school. Our school declared that we would become an ‘iPad School’ and the trial year was the grade that my son was in. Enter an iPad into his life. I could justify and reason with myself about this as it was for school and would be used for educational purposed… the best laid plans.
A year or so later, my marriage broke down and the iPad became useful in a different way… communication. Suddenly Dad wasn’t there each night to tuck them into bed but having him a Facetime away seemed to soften the blow for my children. They could message him, show him what they’d been doing and keep in touch, which meant a lot.
Then Nan and Grandad began their grey nomad adventures. The exciting places they could share with their grandkids lessened the distance between them. My daughter started playing scrabble online with Nan, using the chat channel to have giggles and stories – it became their way to communicate.
My sister, who has lived in the US for the past nine years became a mum. My kids had cousins who they couldn’t play with or carry around however the Facetime chats meant that they could see them and giggle at their cute baby babbles and crazy toddler antics.
Little by little, my kids became experts at these devices. They could show me things that I never knew and could build relationships with family and friends without me having to facilitate it. When they wrote ‘I love you Nan’ to my mum, they really meant it – it was from their own thoughts and motivation.
So, when I reflect on each of these things, are devices really taking over in a negative way?
A wise person said to me recently that ‘we don’t even call it screen time anymore because the applications of screens bare different weight – some active, some passive, some mindless, some educational. In this day and age screens are a part of life and in my opinion, it’s about creating balance rather than restriction’.
That wise person is my sister, Amy Piers. I loved her views so much I took the time to write them down.
I’m not condoning a free for all when it come’s to technology, as I know how addictive it can be. Balance is so important in the lives of little people, however part of that balance in 2019 is using digital media. It’s life. It’s also our responsibility to model that balance and ensure that our children have a range of interests and abilities outside of their device.
Technology can be used for good, lets embrace these exciting times.