Electronics & Kids

Here’s a controversial subject: Electronics and kids.

Do you allow your children to play with electronics? Do you monitor their screen time? Does monitoring their screen time make your parenting better than anyone else’s?

Sometimes I consider myself to be a “crunchy” mom. I cloth diaper, use essential oils, reuse and recycle things, etc. I’m all about allowing my children to live a very free and enjoyable childhood, playing in the dirt and learning through hands-on activities. I try to buy only natural products when it pertains to my kids. I’m not even a big person on medicine. I’d rather give my children honey and lemon juice as opposed to medicine for a sore throat. We try to play outside whenever we can and, to be honest, my children would rather play outside as opposed to anything else. They literally try to run out the door every chance they get!

I also allow my children to have screen time. And guess what! I don’t strictly monitor it. What? Does that mean I let them play as much as they want and watch as much television as they want? Kind of. I mean, I’m not going to set a timer for 30 minutes every day just to tell my children to get off their tablets and go outside. Have you researched recent technologies? New things are coming out every day. Technologies that I didn’t grow up with. Technology is the next generation. It’s what our children will grow up with. It’s what they are growing up with. I feel that it would be wrong of me to shelter my children from something that could potentially help them excel in life.

Now, I do not allow my children to “veg-out” in front of the television all day, every day. Anyone that knows me knows that I have a lot of educational resources in our home. I love to read books and, even though my children aren’t old enough to read yet, they enjoy story time. I even checkout audio books at the local library to listen to in the car. (I’m not a fan of modern music so audio books come in handy instead of listening to the radio.) My children are VERY smart and they understand that there has to be a balance between electronics and “down time.”

My sons have Leapfrog games of all kinds, my old Gameboy Advance, Nintendo64, Xbox 360, tablets, play ABCmouse, you name it, they do it. They also have an entire bookshelf full of books, a beautiful landscape outside in which they can play freely, toys outside (including some kitchen spoons I thought I had lost) and educational toys for indoors (including school-type activities, Montessori-style toys, etc.). I take pride in the time I set aside to spend with my children. But, the time I spend with them is sometimes in front of a screen! How preposterous, right!? Wrong. We have Xbox Kinect. We play and exercise and have a blast in front of the TV. We watch Family Feud and laugh hysterically at some of the answers, as we try to throw in some answers ourselves. We play Super Mario 64 on the N64, which is more so I can reminisce on my childhood, but my son loves it and learns hand-eye coordination. We read with his Leap Pen, which has all kinds of books to go with it. We play ABCmouse and engage in the activities they offer.

I get slightly irritated when I see parents who frown upon their children having “too much time” with electronic toys. Now, there are some scientific research that shows the screens are bad on children’s eyes. But, aren’t screens bad for adult’s eyes too? Look at office jobs. That’s one of the bad things about office jobs: sitting at a desk and looking at a screen all day is bad for your health (eyes, back, brain, etc.). It’s true that we, as people, never had to worry about things like this back in the old days. But is it better to stay stagnant in the old days, or progress with time and be accepting to technology? I can name a few other things that are worse for you and your children besides technology. That’ll have to be another topic for another day!

Anyway, my point is, monitoring your child with technology is fine. Not monitoring your children with technology is also fine. I wouldn’t go as far as to say “let your child be a zombie in front of screens ALL day.” Add in a little parenting. Spend time with your kids. Do crafts with them. Play outside with them. When they’re grown, they will have memories of the time they spent with YOU, not their game systems.

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