Technology – it isn’t the most exciting of topics is it. It is something we all just take for granted – we have unlimited internet access, Television 24/7 and mobile phones to contact anyone at any time. It’s something my family have always used often without even thinking twice about it.
My 2.5 year old is a bit of a technology whizz. She can already access Google on my IPad. She knows how to get onto ‘cat’ and she knows what Netflix (Leclix) is for, and how to find her favourite Mother Goose or Peppa Pig programmes on there. She also has a play phone and will often chat to ‘Dadad’ (Granddad) or various other family members on that.
We used to have strict limitations. With my 6 year old I would rarely have TV on in the day, and had strict internet limits. But over time these have relaxed; Having Amelia grow means that we let her use Netflix after School to catch up with her favourite programmes, which gradually increased to weekends too. It’s easy to think of the advantages:
- They both enjoy using technology
- It can be educational.
- They will need to use technology throughout life, so they need to know how.
- It’s a great way to make sure they are not causing chaos when catching up with housework.
When I really think about it though, for kids, there are no huge advantages to using technology. It is all about us parents; It gives me a chance to do jobs, its tidier than toys and I know where they are (the kids, not the toys!).
Rosie though has started to struggle. She has become a bit obsessed – she constantly wants the IPad or TV on. She has tantrums about me saying no. Her and Amelia argue about who is going to watch what. She was choosing this over playing or anything else.
As a Mum, I feel guilty. I feel that I have relaxed too much and suddenly realised how far things have gone. I should never have used the IPad as a babysitter, or let her go on it rather than play with her. But being a parent is about learning and reflecting. I’ve realised that the current arrangement just isn’t working and so we have done the following:
- Kept technology out of sight; Out of sight, out of mind. Not totally, but it makes it a whole lot easier to say no if they can’t get to it.
2. Led by example; It wouldn’t work if I said no to them then got my IPad out to use myself. I impose the same limitations on myself as on them (with the exception of my mobile, which I have within hearing range but have never used much anyway).
3. Don’t have it in bedrooms; Take TV’s or other technology away from where they sleep. I have to admit that this one wasn’t an issue for us – we have never had it in there. But if you do it’s worth considering.
4. Give them limited access; I wont say that kids need technology. But in a world which is dominated by it, I think they do need some access. To be confident in using IT equipment. And just because in moderation it can be educational and fun. Amelia likes the Cbeebies App, Netflix and Paint. Rosie likes YouTube (yeah, I don’t know why either) and Netflix. They now have clear limits (cartoons for half an hour in the morning, the IPad for half an hour in the evening).
For us, we started last Friday. I expected tantrums from Rosie (who is in the terrible two stage) when I told her that we couldn’t use the IPad. Actually she loved it. We read loads of books, talked about colours, coloured in, played with corn flour goo and pasta and sang songs. I have to admit to it being a long afternoon; I am working on her level not my own, and slowing down to concentrate just on her rather than the housework wasn’t easy. But it was hugely rewarding and I felt like a ‘proper’ Mum to her.
Since then our family time has really improved. Amelia and Rosie are playing together, making obstacle courses, playing pirates or Lego. They aren’t arguing as much. I was worried they would get bored, but I didn’t appreciate how imaginative kids are. They have used their imagination and found loads to do (including making some housework tasks fun, and having them join in. Ever played ‘Hoover tag?!’
We have laughed a bit more, been more together and just enjoyed each others company more.
I don’t know if this post will get read by anyone other than me in the future, but it is something I feel has made our lives richer in just a few days.
Thanks for reading. xxx