Sunday, November 6, 2011

Your Kids and Technology

Now let me be up front from the beginning. I'm not rocking the newest tech by any means. I hardly use my cell phone. In fact I bet you ten bucks (Canadian admittedly), that it isn't even charged right now. I don't own a watch. Our family didn't even get a computer until my first year of university. The idea of ten year olds texting just blows my mind. However, I know that a lot of families have a more personal relationship with technology than our family did.

In contrast, my husbands family always had some sort of to media related technology in their home. His father worked for the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and was always bringing his work home with him. They watched National Film Board movies on a movie projector. When laser discs came out...hold on I'm stifling a laugh here...they were one of the first to be watching them. He was playing with a Comodore 64 while I was trying to set my digital watch. Tech has been a part of his life as much as it hasn't been a part of mine.

For our part, technology does play a part in our kid's lives, but a limited part. I've felt that there was plenty of time to become familiar with it later. Like I mentioned, it wasn't really apart of my life and I've been no worse for wear for it. We rented VCRs for our birthdays! That's how far from technology my family was. I can not overstate that enough. Apparently. I would much rather my daughter learn to put a wooden puzzle together than a virtual one on the iPad. I perfer colouring with crayons than with a fill tool. For me it's more than just the act. It's more social and interactive to do these things for real. When Miss. A was young she would just tune out the rest of the world if she was fiddling with the iPad. You could try talking to her, but she was really immersed in what she was doing. Whereas puzzles, games, colouring, and other activities in person were much more social and interactive. We would talk about what we were doing and spending lots of quality time together.

That being said, she does LOVE the iPad! She can navigate through it like an expert. In fact she has a better idea how to do things on it than I do. Her favorite game currently is Tiger Woods Golf. She is good at that game. Better than me and better than her dad. I always end up in the sand trap. As much as she does love it, and TV and movies, it's a sometimes treat. It's too easy for her to feel some sort of sense of entitlement to these things. Other children may have a different relationship. We find it is much too easy for the negotiation of its use to turn into a battlefield. Perhaps with time and maturity this will change, but for now it stands as it is.

When do you feel it's a good idea to introduce technology into your children's lives? It's obviously going to be a big part of their future everyday. What kind of technology is appropriate and at what age, and for how long? What sort of rules and restrictions should there be? It seems like a complicated Pandora's box once it's opened.


  1. I'm sure it doesn't surprise you that I'm cool with tech being a part of Brandon's life. We bought him his own iPod and then let him overdose on it for a couple weeks until he wasn't as interested in it anymore. The amount of time he wants to be using a gadget is limited now. I can't say he doesn't have the sense of entitlement, because I'd be lying. Thing is, at his age he has that sense of entitlement with *everything*.

    I definitely don't suggest what we did is a good strategy, because every child is different. I think that's the key. When a child is exposed to tech has to be dependent on the child. Is it an interest? Does it help them learn? I honestly credit the iPod/iPad for helping Brandon get through some tough spots where his development felt stalled. They provided him an outlet that stimulated him in the right way, helping him move forward again.

    I agree that there's still lots of time. He's probably going to have a greater level of tech integration in his life because it's a huge interest for both Matt and me. But ultimately I want him to learn to use it smart and responsibly. Otherwise, I'm doing him a great disservice.

  2. That's just it. Very child is different. Over the last year Alice has matured quite a bit. 6 months ago she would have closed out everyone else and focused on the iPad or tv. Taking those away would result in some very bad displays of behavior. Now we can discuss it's use and agree on it's use together. I just wish she'd stop organizing my folders because I can't find anything half the time!


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