I don’t know about you, but I am having a love hate relationship with technology these days. Most especially when it comes to my tween and my teen. I love being able to communicate with my girls before and after school, when they are at practices or at a friends house, and of course when they are running late or I am running late, a cell phone can be so convenient. I also appreciate being able to check grades and homework on line, that I must confess, is very handy. But I have a few axes to grind with technology, just a few things that that rub me the wrong way and keep me awake at night.
I don’t think I will ever get used to the fact that most all teens and tweens have cell phones ( as if it is a right or a law ( or an appendage). These days my children can have a whole life that I am unaware of right in their little hand. They can be texting and carrying on a conversation with someone ( who I may or may not know) or posting pictures or looking at someone else’s pictures, while sitting next to me in the car or by themselves on the bus. Sure, I can monitor them, check them and friend them, but it bothers me that I have to take the time to do all this. I don’t want to “have to” do this.
I want one phone, plugged into the wall with a big bouncy stretchy cord ( not too long though, or they, like I, will stretch it into the other room to talk.) and if you want to be secretive, pass a note that can easily be thrown away or eaten! I know this is very antiquated and ridiculous and I don’t want to sound like a Quaker ( OK, I secretly want to be one, just not sound like one.) or be like my grandma saying, “Why do you need all those channels? And a phone in every room?”
I cant stop thinking about a quote I came across however, almost a year ago, (probably on someones facebook or pinterest.) The woman wrote, “Let them be of their generation.” .This stuck with me and often colors how I parent because I don’t want my kids to be so sheltered that they don’t have a feel for the pulse of their own culture, or that they are unrelateable. These are good kids whom I trust but the fact of the mater is that they are still kids who do not have fully formed frontal lobes yet, and they really don’t know the potential dangers that lie within all this technology and they really do need to be protected from themselves at times. What I want and am constantly striving for is balance.
This concept of balance is so important because these day many children, given a choice of activities will choose “playing” on the phone or looking at some sort of social media. If I do not push against this they might get sucked away into their devices (like Mike TV from Willy Wonka!) When my daughter could not get a hold of her neighborhood friend one day, I told her to just ride her bike over there and knock on the door. She looked at me as if I had asked her to run down the street naked! “Mom, people don’t just do that anymore!” She is right, and I know, but, well, they should. And I am mindful of it and nostalgic for it. My boys are also drawn to technology but still love to be outside, the minute they say, “mom can we go out side?”, I will drop everything and go with them, my girls will sometimes follow and we will spend time playing volleyball or basketball, even football or ride bikes in the street. It is one of my favorite things to do with my family and when I see these times falling fewer and farther between, I will be the one to say, “Who wants to go out side with me?” There is always a taker or two, happy to spend time outside with me. I am an Ambassador of Balance.
My family also loves to be in the kitchen “together” but often times lately everyone will be sitting at the counter playing on some sort of device, with the TV on in the background, while I cook and prepare dinner, but no one is talking or even looking up. That is when I say, can someone help me make this salad please? There is resistance at first, they look at me as if they want to say “No thank you???” but they know better, “Oh and can someone else go get me some potatoes from the pantry?” slowly but surely, we are interacting as a family again, talking, smiling and even laughing. Sneaky…Covert…Balance.
I don’t fault them for gravitating toward technology because it has an undeniably powerful pull. And they really don’t know a world without it. But just like some moms sneak vegetables into their kids meals, I too can sneak in the good stuff. Sure I am going to “let them be of this generation.” But I don’t want to let go of real communication and real social interaction and even good media. Here are some of my ideas to bring balance to my tech driven family.
I will try to at least once a week to have the family all make a meal together. ( even the boys can helped chad make dessert) what a difference from everyone on their devices.
What about getting out of our selves ? Feeding and clothing the homeless together?
Asking an elderly neighbor if they need any chores done or some yard work… Yard work!!!!???? Do kids do hardworking anymore????
What about writing a letter or having a intelligent phone conversation with a grandparent? ( you could even have the Grandparent go first!?!?)
Compile a list of good family movies. WATCH THEM TOGETHER!!!! Load them in the Net Flix Que.
Compile a list of good classic books or ones tailored for each child’s interest. I have loaded some on the kindle and ipad. ( I prefer to hold a book and feel the pages, but what do I know, I still have a land line!!)
And of course board games!!!!!!! I will admit, they start out stressful in my house, but we always end up laughing until we are crying.This is one of my favorite memory making times.
I must bring balance to this crazy time we live in. My relationships with my children are at stake! I am not so much afraid of what they are doing, as I am afraid of what they ARE NOT DOING. not relating, not interacting, not bonding, not sharing, not playing, not living life with the people God gave them to live life with. Yes, it takes work, and yes I am already tired!! Very very tired…. But when I think big picture, I want to be able to look back with few regrets. What will I wish I said no to, what will I wish I fought for, what will I wish I spent time building, nurturing? I encourage you to go forth and be an ambassador of balance on behalf of your family.
“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
― Groucho Marx