Monday, April 15, 2013

what we are learning about kids + technology


About a year ago I was talking to a friend and we were talking about what we have observed other children doing as far as cell phones and games/computer usage. We were pretty much outraged at what parents are the cell phones tethered to their little the going to people's houses and sitting on the couch to use their phone instead of talking to their friends in real life!

Fast forward to this past Christmas where we gave our 11 year old one of our old phones to use as basically an ipod- with limited texting and a few game apps. Fast forward again to the end of January where we gave our 10 year old another of our old phones to use as well.

First of all I must say that I am usually eating my words when it comes to parenting and I am humbled on a daily basis by what I have said in the past and what the reality is in the present :)

We really wanted our kids to be able to listen to music- their cd player had broken and really these phones were sitting in a drawer collecting dust- so why not?! Then things started to creep up and soon our kids were using their phones constantly. For taking pictures (not a bad thing), for checking the weather (not a bad thing), for texting mom and dad (not a bad thing), for blogging on their private blogs (not a bad thing), for listening to music (not a bad thing), for listening to Adventures in Odyssey (not a bad thing), for checking sport team scores (not a bad thing), for playing mine craft (not a bad thing), etc, etc, etc!!! So what was a bad thing was all this combined to make me go CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was asking myself, "why, why, why??? Why do they need to be tethered to this thing?????" Why aren't they outside? Why aren't they reading a book? why aren't they drawing a picture?

Disclaimer- we are not totally awful: we did have time limits and rules and just seemed like they were glued to their phones 24/7

So Dave and I had a talk in the bathroom (with the fan on) (our only private place) (...which they probably have bugged and routed to their iPhones). We talked and came up with a a plan. And this plan has worked, AND, the boys have said that they like the plan and that it works.

Our plan (that works for our family and has given me back my sanity...well at least in that area of my life!!)

We keep the phones plugged in in our room. The boys have limited use during the school week (Monday-Thurs). They can come and ask if they are allowed to listen to music- they use it for that purpose and then come and plug it back in. The come and ask if they can listen to adventures in Odyssey, etc....

On Friday and Saturday they are allowed 2 hours each day- this 2 hours is anything tech related. So that means they have 2 hours to play the wii or use their phone to play mine craft, or to watch a movie. Our 7 year old who does not have a phone uses her 2 hours to watch a movie, usually. On Sunday, they have an hour to use for any of those things.

You know what?? We are all happy! Happy to have those boundaries. They are busy bees who read and play outside and talk to (bug) each other. Now I really want to put boundaries in place for myself. If you have been around this blog for awhile you know I get this way once or twice a year and take a week to have a media fast. I am not there yet, but need to have boundaries. Those little tiny chunks of time (standing in line at the store, sitting at a red light, etc) do not always have to be filled with this or that on my phone!!! And certainly, I do not need to be on the phone when my kids are around and I need to be focusing on them.

RABBIT TRAIL....I was listening to Focus on the Family today (like everyday when  I am in the bathroom getting ready for the day) and LOVED this broadcast about moms and daughters and being intentional about talking to them. Listen here (April 15 broadcast). AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! Totally doing the tea party idea/potter story with my daughter. (I need to get her book!!!!)

So, bottom line (I think)...parenting is a journey. You learn as you go, sometimes you lead sometimes you follow (name that song). But through it all- GOD is with us; helping, convicting, LEADING...teaching. Thank You, GOD! You are soooo kind and good.

And just to keep things real and me humble, (and to come back from where we started from: the kids on the couch) we had friends over to our house and I look out into the living room and see both boys playing games on their phones with the friends looking over their shoulders....OK, fine...but that's enough! Phones away! Go have old fashioned fun! Go shoot marbles or play stick ball ;)

I would love to hear your experiences with this topic :) I need all the advice I can get! :)


Jennifer said...

we have the same battle, but then I realize how much time I spend on the couch at night doing things on my laptop!! my kids are limited on time too. I don't see anything wrong with it (like you said) as long as there are boundries and time limits.

The family Z said...

Sara, I LOVE that last painting! How did you do it - is it watercolor? I would love it if you could share the technique, it would be a fun project with the kids.


Sonja said...

we've always had video/computer/internet boundaries. Our approach has basically been to encourage a wide variety of activities that promote a range of different way sof thinking, being, and living. In that framework, only playing on the computer doesn't work. We don't allow techno stuff during the week (unless it's school-related - ie. look up something or do some math puzzles), and on weekends the two kids get to share ca. 1.5/2 hours on each day of something. Sometimes they don't share and one watches a video while another plays minecraft. That's their choice. It's a continual work in progress, particularly as their friends appear to have no limits whatsoever. But we always try to bring it back to: our goal is to have a range of opportunities available to you, so that you can express yourselves and explore yourselves in different ways. This will likely have to be renegotiated as kid #1 enters jr high and age 12 this fall.

Garth and Becky said...

I just have to say that I'm glad we aren't the only ones who have to have private conversations in the bathroom with the fan on. :)

We battle the tech inundation in our house, too, especially since the computer is Garth's livelihood. Movies and video games don't even come on or get touched until after everybody is done with school. That's great incentive for those that like to drag the school work out all day. I loved the solution you guys came up with!

Lydia said...

You make me laugh. In the bathroom with the fan on.....just to have a private talk with your hubby. Were there little paws poking under the door the whole time? Because that is how it is in my house. This whole media thing...I'm with you - we go back and forth and up and down. It creeps up on one so easily.

Sausages!!! My new favorite random word.

cranny + me said...

Wait, you guys have conversations in the bathroom with the fan on, too? : )

I'm just glad to have older siblings so I can learn all of this from you guys. One of the things that I hope never changes for us is not having a tv. Having iPhones and computers are our limit. It's just so crazy how much is there to keep one occupied! But it's hard. It would be so nice to have a tv to watch sport games with the boys. But boy do we enjoy that slice of freedom.

I LOVE the paintings in this post!