Tablets and Electronics and Your Child: When is Enough, Enough?
When my daughter was born, the first thing I said was "I won't let her touch electronics until she's old enough to read!" That promise to myself was very short lived, as I realized there were many teaching apps out there even for babies. As she got older, we found that she could begin learning her ABC's, listen to learning songs, and so on through my old iPhone and we even would get her basic tablets when we started to realize it would impact her eyesight. We still read to her every day, but her electronic was with her all the time. She's now turning 8 and yesterday I had to finally put my foot down. Her usual routine is now this:
- Wake up and come out to the living room
- Grab iPad and begin playing the usual swipe and watch games.
- Eat Breakfast watching Bob's Burgers on Hulu on Tablet (she adores Bob, what can I say?)
- Play on tablet until it dies or until she realizes she hasn't done much in a while
- Go play on our PS3....
During this time, I'm a work at home mother and my office space is in the living room. My husband is unable to do much with our daughter to entertain her while i'm working because I make calls, so yes, I was using the electronics to pacify my daughter so I could get my work done. Bad Mom award? Right here. But yesterday? I couldn't take it anymore! Every time I wanted to show my daughter something I had to ask her to look up. I told her to go to her room and play, and she just laid on the floor and I asked why she wasn't playing. She went and I quote: "I don't know what to do!" and that's where I just decided enough is enough. If my seven year old doesn't have the ability to go use her imagination and play, it's time to put down the electronics.
Parents today are just as addicted to their electronics as their children which makes it impossible to look responsible. I myself have my cell phone near me all the time. When I'm not working, it's buzzing because of work and if my co-worker is not around, I am answering questions from call centers constantly. With my mental health as it is, I have a very hard time staying focused for long periods so I end up utilizing my phone's games as I work, I play games that have short 30 second rounds so that I can keep myself working. My work speaks for itself, I'm a very dedicated employee and this is how I handle my PTSD and all it's negative repercussions. But imagine how my 7 year old feels when every time she comes out of her room, Mommy is looking down at her phone playing a game? We are so dependent, our kids are now dependents. Who sees kids playing outside anymore? No one. There is now a stigma that only lower income children play outside because they "can't afford electronics so they have to do that." When was that a lower income thing? When are we going to stop handing a screen to our kids and get them to be active?
I've noticed if my daughter uses her tablet quite a bit during the day, her attitude is very negative and rude. Especially when it comes time to turn it off, she growls and groans, gets snarky and talks back to us. Parents today will say that they don't take away their kids electronics because the kids will get physically violent and they'll start asking "What do I do?" Well, I can tell you what we do, we take away the electronics! It is now 8:54am, and my daughter is in her room building legos listening to Classic Rock on the radio. I can hear her talking to herself, giggling as she builds and sure, if I said to her "Honey you can use your tablet now." She'd come running, but she knows she won't get it now until 2pm. Why 2pm? Two days a week her karate class is from 4:30-5:15. I get her ready and out the door by 4, so she only has a short time on the electronic before we leave. I do this so that she doesn't become a bum brain as I like to call it before we go.
PARENTS!!! You are the adult, you are the one in charge. If your child won't give up their electronics, take away the power cords! If they get violent, guess what, the police are just a phone call away and trust me they don't mind coming to the house and startling your even 10 year old child about being physically abusive over a tablet. My daughter is turning 8 in October, and I will not let electronics parent her. I work from home, I blog, I handle a lot around me so I understand how convenient it is to give her a screen so she is quiet and easily manageable. But are our kids truly manageable and quiet, when the addiction takes over and you try to take it away? TAKE IT AWAY!!
Elizabeth is a wife to her wonderful husband, a work at home mother to her beautiful little girl and a blogger for some time now. When she isn't spending time with her "Livvybug", or laughing with her husband, she is looking for new review opportunities and writing or singing along to classic rock and pop music!
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