A recent post on Facebook that talks about how our kids are addicted to technological gadgets these days. It underlines the lament of almost every parent that their child was busy sitting in front of the computer or fiddling with a mobile phone all day. While this is true, technology does have its advantages.
Let me tell you a little story. My son was as good or bad as any kid when it came to technology. He had been badgering me for this popular game GTA and when his B day approached; I relented and got him the requested CD. For days after that I had a hard time separating him from his computer and the game. Then came the time when he fell ill and stayed back from school. Being ill meant no work at home too – of course! So virtually the whole day was devoted to the all-important GTA. Two days later my son came to me and said, “Mom there’s no fever now. Can I go down to play?”
Children go through phases. That’s just the way they grow. The same holds true for technology. It’s a phase that they will soon outgrow – or will they? The question upper most in every parent’s mind is, “Should we allow our kids to just go through their technology phase or should we limit their use of technology?”
The Good and Bad of Technology
Technology is bad for the eyes. Too much time spent in front of a screen can “accustom” you to bright lights to the extent that you cannot see without them. This results in children wearing eye-glasses at an early age. Another bad is laziness. Children these days won’t pick up a dictionary. They’d rather Google instead. Also let’s face it – games are addictive resulting in little or no outdoor activity. Also little or no social interaction. The internet – if your kids are on to it – is flooded with the wrong kind of information.
But then Googling is easier and faster than looking up something in a dictionary or encyclopedia right? And the tech-gadgets encourage kids to read. Games improve hand-eye-coordination and help develop skills like driving and flying in a “safe” environment. They can rid themselves of the urge for rash driving keeping them – hopefully – safe on the road in real life. If used in the right way, technology can improve social skills too as well as skills like problem solving, reasoning, and spatial assessment.
The Question Remains
So! Technology like everything else has its pros and cons. The question remains though – should we encourage the use of technology or should we discourage it? My take is you should encourage it within limits. Children have instincts just like adults. See how my son craved outdoor activity after 2 days of confinement? Here are a few quick tips on how you can monitor and control your kids’ online activity.
Lay Down the Rules
Easier said than done right? Wrong! Sit your 10 year old down and explain the good and bad about technology. Say that you are not against it. Then together lay down the rules of how, when, and how much he can play. Adhere to these rules yourself too – and not just to encourage him – too much tech can be bad for you too!
When you have “the talk”, include in the agenda selection of the games he can play. Give in to a couple of harmless games in exchange for a couple of games of your choosing. Choose these with great care. Make sure the games you choose are the “education” kind which will benefit him.
Don’t Beat Them – Join Them
Few parents can win in an argument with their child. The proverb – if you can’t beat them join them – never rung truer than in this situation. Join your kids in their online activities and participate fully. Then gently but firmly guide them in the right direction. Who knows you may learn a few things in the process!
Follow the Leader
Let your child hold your virtual hand and lead you through the maze that is technology. Follow him on his journey through the internet, games, gizmos and more. Be supportive rather than assertive. Be the rudder and let your child steer you. You can always make suggestions along the way and gently encourage or discourage him along the way.
Challenge your child to beating your scores in games you consider beneficial. Set aside time when you can play these games with your child. I’ve found this works best late in the night when all the chores are complete and you retire to bed. Lay down with your little tech genius and have a tech-romp before you snooze off. But remember to put away the toys before you set off on your journey through dreamland!
There is nothing more satisfying for a parent than to have their child beat them at a game. Make the most of the technological advantage available for your child which you did not have in your own childhood. Learn together and move towards a better and brighter future.
So here’s to technology!