Balancing Technology With Our Children

Back in the 1980’s we listened to the Buggles’ how the “Video Killed The Radio Star” and it’s crazy to see how much has changed in such a short time. We could joke around all day just down that small path about how the DVD killed the video-star, and now the blu-ray killed the DVD star. But when it starts becoming literal and you have headlines reading “18-Year-Old Dies After Playing Video Game For 40 Hours,” it’s simply not humorous, especially since it’s the second of this type of death this year alone! You don’t even need to go that extreme because quite honestly many adult and youth that are addicted to technology and gaming can be considered gone anyways, barely seeing daylight and barely part of what was once the normal physical world.

I decided to blog about this topic because as a parent I have found myself stuck in a fine line of wanting to encourage my children to be well-rounded in technology, but a part of me wants to “un-plug” them from it all. As with everything, we have found that for us the solution to our dilemma has been…. “everything in moderation.”

Of course everyone will give you their own “expert” advice, my own father for one, wonders why I make my kids play outside when they can get the same exercise these days with our interactive video game without having to risk any scraped knees. Others will say that too much technology will cause your child to have attention deficit disorder. The truth of the matter is that I’ve seen kids and adults glued onto the television, computers, and every type of technology. We have our youth walking outside looking like this…

On the other hand, a while ago I watched a video that still intrigues me. I found it just to share it with all of you because although it was made back in 2008, it makes some amazing points. One of the points that can’t be avoided is that…

If you’ve never watched this video before, you should definitely watch the entire video, it’s less than 5 minutes long, but it’s really insightful.

With all things considered our family is pretty plugged-in. By that I mean we have wireless, a desktop, laptop, iPad, a couple of iPhones, different video game consoles, and clearly we know a thing or two about technology… BUT there are strict rules in our home.

Our kids aren’t even old enough to surf the web, granted they go to PBS Kids every so often but I’m already planning ahead for when they’re old enough and will be browsing the internet on their own. It’s not that I don’t trust my children, because I hope that we’re instilling in them the values and morals that they need to make the correct decisions on their own, but accountability is important and as parents we believe that it is our responsibility. Here’s a link to a Free Parental Internet filtering software program that helps parents monitor and control their child’s use of the internet.

One of our major rules is no television or video games during the weekday. Yes, that includes summer vacation. That’s one of the major reasons why we decided to do “summer home-schooling,” because otherwise it’d be really easy for us to turn on the TV every once in a while and hand over the iPad, video game, or allow them to play on the computer. Seems innocent, but it slowly becomes a habit and then they demand it and then it becomes too hard for us as parents to say enough is enough. Their little minds are like sponges and eager to be filled with something, so if we don’t make the effort to fill it up with good things, they will fill it up themselves with whatever presents itself. Technology can be good, if we as parents put the extra effort in finding what is appropriate and educational for our kids, otherwise there is a great amount of awful things in the internet, in television, and in video games.

Don’t get me wrong, there are always exceptions to our no television or video games rule… we’re reasonable people. But as a rule of thumb the kids know not to ask to play their video games or watch anything on television unless it’s a weekend. The best part is that when exceptions are made, it becomes a special thing that we do together as a family and not something that we just do out of habit. This also forces them to be more creative, play outside and simply be kids!

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