I like to think that I engage my kids. We often play games like Sorry or Trouble as a family, I help them with homework, I make fun assignments for them, and we color, paint and do crafts weekly. We have dance parties in the living room all the time. My husband is really great about chasing them around the house, getting them active through sports, and encouraging some gentle "rough housing" (sometimes I feel like he is my fourth child when it comes to this one).
So why is it, that my beautiful, peacefully sleeping little two-year old baby boy, opens his eyes every morning, squints at me, and clumsily mutters the word, "iPad?" as his very first word of the day?
My kids are more addicted to technology than I am, which says something. I'm not going to pretend to be innocent. I know that I am responsible for this. My 6 year old son received a mini iPad from Santa. We gave our 4 year old daughter my old phone, with the hard drive cleaned out and the cracked screen fixed, for Christmas this year. And my 2-year-old has recently sort of adopted our family iPad as his own.
Even now as I type this post, I can hear my 2- and 4-year-old's playing on tablets. And you know what, I wouldn't be able to write this post if I didn't allow them to. I wouldn't be able to make supper without them at my feet or to grade papers without them asking me a million questions of interruption, if I didn't allow it. It definitely makes my life easier when they have technology in front of them.
My husband and I aren't much better. We use our phones for texting, internet searching, playing online games, reading articles, etc., in front of the kids all the time, reinforcing in their young, forming minds that it is okay for them to use their tablets too.
And it's even when the kids are in bed. I often, after a realization of being in a time warp, look over at my hubby and notice that we haven't really been spending time together for an hour or more; instead we were both silently on our own phones, separately. We are weirdly spending time alone together lately. We both blame each other when this realization happens, complaining that the other is on their phone more, but we are both victims of this addiction. We both need to work on it.
I try to tell myself that when it comes to the kids screen time, they actually learn from the many educational applications that I have downloaded onto their tablets.
And they do.
The few times when they actually play on those apps. Let's not kid ourselves; there is more Minecraft being played, are more Play Doh videos being watched, and more Talking Tom being spoken to, than educational applications being utilized.
We are trying to get better at using our phones and tablets less as a family. For the last several months we have been incorporating No Cell Phone Sundays into our weeks. We put all of our tablets out of reach. We adults can use our phones for talking and sending brief texts, but no playing on them- especially in front of the kids.
This family policy has helped, but it is hard for us all. We probably need to work even harder on enforcing it. We have forgotten a few Sundays, or given up midway through the day for various reasons like travel, company coming over, etc.
When it comes to my kids and their tablets, I am not sure what the solution is. I fear that society's love for, addiction to and reliance on technology is only going to increase as time passes.
All I know is that something has to be done.
But I gotta admit, it sure did help with potty training though.
My adorable little technology addicted son (who will probably kill me someday for posting this picture).