My children’s father and I have decided that our kids will have NO use of devices for the entire summer and when they do get to use them when the school year starts, it will be VERY limited and VERY monitored. Likewise, Mike has decided the same for our other two kids when they are at our home. So, if you’re coming to our house this summer, leave your device at the door.
Now, this is not because we hate technology. We do understand the importance of learning technology. But, it has its place and it definitely has its limits.
So why such a drastic move for an entire season? Why not just set parameters?
It’s because we’re getting fed up. No, not getting there. We got there. We reached the point of stomachaches and the innocence of our children being lost way too prematurely. We take full responsibility.
As much as we thought we had a handle on it with safe modes, lock modes, and regular checks on what they are viewing…. kids are smart. They know how to work around that. Their friends and the Internet show them how.
They want to have an account with every social platform (illegal for most until they are 13 or even older) and they want to watch videos and see pictures because they are curious! And here’s why else… “Everyone else is doing it, why can’t I?”
Some parents are okay with their children having their own YouTube accounts, Facebook pages, Twitter handles etc. regardless of the legal age required. And some parents just don’t know what their kids are searching and what kinds of accounts they have already set up. It’s a tricky world and our kids are growing up in an age where they become savvy to it all in a flash.
Our intentions were good in the beginning. Christmas presents were handheld devices for each child. Having a blended family, it seemed ideal. “Now when you are at mommy or daddy’s you can FaceTime either one of us!” How perfect.
But, then it became hundreds of text messages in one day to their friends. And the messages were not always appropriate. It became friends sharing videos and pictures that were – again – not appropriate. Even with the limited time that they were allowed to use it, boundaries were crossed. Self-control became absent in the world of devices for them and it was frankly – disgusting.
Our best moments as a family are when we make dinner together in the kitchen and talk about our day while we eat at the table. It’s when we play at the pool, throw the football in the front yard, go bike riding or make messy food and science experiments. In other words, we are the happiest NOT when we are on phones or iPads or playing video games, but when we are experiencing the fullness of each other.
The stomachache I get when I ask one of our kids a question and their head is buried in a device with no intention of replying is awful. Not as bad as the one I get when I find out that some kid at school has been sharing dirty videos with one of them. Yes. This is happening, parents!
Please don’t be naive and think it’s not. It’s a constant in our household to talk about what they are seeing, how to interpret it and what’s actually real. Kids are pressured into maturity way too fast and it’s damaging. It’s socially and emotionally damaging and scares the hell out of me. And even I was naive to what my little innocent ones were exposed to via friends and their devices.
So, yes we’ve decided that this summer, our children are going to enjoy being a kid. The kid who walks into a room without a handheld device and looks up and greets you. The kid who is seeing the world around him and experiencing actual activity beyond his thumbs. The kid who is learning the value of human connection and relationships.
In my day as a kid, everyone (and I mean everyone) had Nintendo, video games and hand held video game devices, Gameboy and the like. My parents said no to it all. We never had any kind of video game in our home. It simply wasn’t allowed. We had conversations together. We saw movies together. We played games together. We hiked, swam, played tennis, basketball, volleyball, cards… we had interactive fun with each other. Connection.
Much of your life experience and choices you make are based on personality and a lot of it is also how you are guided and influenced into making those choices. I feel confident in our choice and I look forward to what their boredom becomes and the new things we will discover.
** What are your thoughts on children and devices. Please comment and share!