As a child growing up I had very few limitations on anything “technology” based. There were no rules around how many hours of TV we could watch, or how much time was spent playing mindless video games. Therefore, I never obsessed over either. I spent the better part of my childhood running around with my neighborhood friends; playing Barbie, riding bikes, or in my later years, spending countless hours daydreaming about the crushes I had.
But life was different when I was growing up. For better or worse, children today do not share the same experiences I once cherished in my youth. I believe this is due to the amount of technology present in our current society. When I was a child, there was only television or video games to be concerned with. There were no cell phones. There was no social media; no Instagram, no Facebook. In fact the computer hardly existed in my youth. It wasn’t until I reached junior high or high school that computers even entered my realm. Even so, it was limited to school classrooms or the occasional “chat room” that my friends and I would sneak onto at the library. Whereas today we are all victims of the tech world and are inundated with massive amounts of media encroaching into every aspect of our life. It is nearly impossible to go a day without using or being exposed to some form of technology.
Now that I’m a parent, I’ve had to step back and evaluate the harm and benefits of it all, and really take a stance regarding how I want to raise my daughter, and decide what my comfort level is with her amount of exposure. I did my homework, I read the AAP’s suggestions, and quite honestly I’m still conflicted. On one hand I see the amazing opportunities technology has provided our society and the vast amount of information that can be accessed through the use of such devices. But on the other, I have seen the destruction it can cause and the breakdown of core family values it creates.
As a parent, not only do I have to be concerned with the effect technological devices have on brain development in our young children, but also the lack of physical activity it creates and the sensory overload it provides. While there may be some benefits offered; mainly improving fine motor skills and allowing communication with our loved ones (through Skype & FaceTime). The benefits are highly outnumbered by the tremendous risks. While I’m not one to adhere to a “strict” parenting style, I have found myself limiting time spent on the iPad or watching television more and more frequently lately. This decision is not only a conscious one based on the ramifications technology and media can generate, but also a naturally occurring one due to the lifestyle we have created. Sure there are days when I just need a moment, and I assure you I will not hesitate to turn on the television and sit my daughter in front of an episode of Baby Einstein, but for the most part our days are spent outside exploring and enjoying the beautiful surroundings our planet has to offer.
This post is part one of a four part series on technology. I do hope you join in and share your thoughts regarding technology and how you choose to handle it in your families.