This subject weighs super heavy on me. It eats away at my soul bit by bit. I'm forced to face it everyday and it continues to get more and more challenging.
Kids and Technology.
I've read the blogs. Followed the guidelines. Seen the news. I know we live in a different world nowadays. But even with all the advice that the internet has offered me, I still just don't know what to do. It all feels hopeless.
When is the appropriate time for a child to get a cell phone? I think, and hope, that need is the primary factor here. Are they away from you for significant periods of time with no other way to contact you? Then maybe it's time.
Why are they away from you for significant periods of time with no way to contact you? Did you send them on a walkabout or is it because our country has abolished pay phones from the face of the earth? If it's because they're 16 or older, you get a pass. Your kids should be away from you for significant periods of time, and it is the government's fault that you don't have payphones available.
Okay, need established. Now what type of phone do you get them? No kid needs a smartphone. Phones are for calling and texting, that is their purpose (she says as she writes a blog on her smartphone hypocritically.) But if you don't get them one, they will not be the cool kid. Scarred for life. Or so society tells us. Somehow we've come to believe that our kids need a $700 piece of technology that has a 75% chance of breaking within the first month (hope you got the insurance) and 100% chance of being outdated within 2 years. Or, maybe you're in this to save money. A flip phone and a tablet seem silly when a smartphone could do it all in one conveniently overpriced device ( thats why I have one:))
A smartphone, tablet, iPod etc... opens your child to the entire world! That's pretty amazing, as well as amazingly terrifying. I think it's wonderful that you have the one kid in existence who doesn't come to crave the instant gratification of receiving a text, or experience the thrill of constantly checking for new notifications. It's even more wonderful that your child respects you enough to always follow the guidelines you gave them for when they can use it, and what's appropriate. Sadly, I think a lot of our kids are not the same way.
I think a lot of our kids get bullied or are bullies. I think a lot are sleep deprived from staring at the glowing screen waiting for the notification that never came. I think many children have found addictive games, pornography and foul things that their precious eyes cannot unsee. I think these things are happening through the lens of their personal electronics. I'm not saying shelter your kids, but I am saying a certain maturity level may be required to handle our technological world. If they really need/want technology, couldn't we share our devices til they've proven themselves worthy of this grandiose prize?
Now, off my scary technology soapbox and on to my social query soapbox. Can your child function without technology? I'm asking because when my child invites them to play, they bring it along. Their personal technology device, meant for one person, is brought along when they hang out with friends. Is it in case my kid isn't fun enough? I'm slightly baffled as to why your child wants to play on his phone while sitting on my couch. Isn't it the same as when he's on his couch? Is it because I have air conditioning? Is your child setup for the lifetime of social interactions that will need to occur without technology in hand? Because they don't even look up from the screen when they're talking to me.
Do I sound pretentious enough yet? Well, here's the laughable part, my kids are crawling with technology. Even my 3 year old has a phone (of sorts). But I'm finding their technology use frightening. My 10 year old asked to play a video game in the car today. We were going to the grocery store 2 minutes down the road. He sounded desperate. The game wouldn't have even loaded in that time (I didn't say they have quality technology). One of my 12 year olds snuck away from his own slumber party to watch YouTubers play video games (his real friends were in his house playing real video games at the time). My 3 boys go to a school with Technology Academy in the name. My husband is a software engineer, creating technology is his job.
I say all this just to get it off my chest. Kids and technology pisses me off. Now let me tell you what I've learned and what I'm doing to regain some sanity.
No personal devices (tablets, ds, iPod etc...) They have computers for school so they have access to things they both need and want online. I've found that they cannot control themselves with personal devices. They're either on it all the time or they haven't even charged it for 2 weeks. Either scenario is a waste. Personal devices are also too easy to hide what they're doing and where they're doing it. If your kid has a personal device, please keep it that way. I don't enjoy it when they share it with my kid.
Phones. My 12 year olds have had them for almost a year. My 10 year old and 3 year old have old phones of ours that don't have service but can make calls via WiFi. They all pretty much exist so that we can play Pokemon GO as a family. I am way overpaying for this service. The phones must sit on a centrally located charger at home and they are not allowed to put any app on the phone without parental permission. They should be for emergencies. They are not. It's sad. Don't buy your kids a phone unless you have to.
Gaming systems. I'm actually a fan of these. It's a way for multiple kids to enjoy technology together. It's in a centrally located area and can easily have set time limits. I still like the trampoline more, but gaming systems are pretty okay. But, I'm not a fan of that being the only thing your kid wants to do when he comes to my house to hang out. We have a lot of cool **it.
After today, here's what I'm I going to do. I'm setting up a technology drop box at my house asap. From now on you'll be asked to leave the ball and chain there (yes this goes for adults too. No I'm not referring to putting your wife in the box.) and forced to enjoy the lovely company of the many people that live in my home when you come visit. If you need that personal screen time, feel free to leave. (Jumped right back on my high horse didn't I?) Okay, okay, I will allow calls and texts, after all that is a phones purpose.
Rant over for now. I like technology, I swear I do. I just don't know how it fits with kids who are exploring boundaries and learning how our society works.
P.S. I didn't even touch on this, but if anyone can explain the zombie like affect that the television causes, I'd love to learn more. I let the 3 year old watch trolls this morning and managed to mesmerize 8 different 10-12 year old boys to the point that they could not move or respond. Infomercials seem to work equally well. What's up with that?