Tech is everywhere. It permeates our homes, work, and family life. We have immediate access to anything and everything, as long as we have our little devices with us.
The problem is, we're losing ourselves in it so much, that we've lost touch with everyone and everything around us.
This isn't a new concept; in fact this has been an ongoing problem for years. The question is...what can we do about it- especially when raising a family?
The answer is a simple one, but very hard to maintain. Limit the tech.
For example, from the moment my kids were born they had a propensity for the computer. At the time we had two in the house. One became the kids' computer, and one was for the adults.
That didn't last long.
Fights ensued. Timers were bought. Schedules were made, and time limits were set. Very small time limits. It's really tempting to let the little ones play on the digital babysitter while mom and dad get things done, but kids need to interact with parents regularly to learn social skills- this was before I found out my son had Aspergers!
As the kids grew, schools required computer use at home for homework, research, and learning games. We had to extend the time and watch them like hawks- I was amazed at how fast they could switch screens when I walked by!
Unbeknownst to my children, I placed a mirror nearby in such a way that I could see what my children were doing from the other room before I 'walked by'. Like I said- it's not easy! Parents have to get clever to make sure the kiddos stay on track.
When the kids were in their teens, we had laptops. That was nipped in the bud swiftly when they both decided to use them as personal TVs when mom and dad weren't home- and sometimes when we were. Earphones and a laptop can make a really bad combination- it makes it so much easier for teens to ignore you.
Cell phones had to be the hardest tech to resist. I have to admit, the monthly cost made it a lot easier to say no, but when the my teenagers went into separate high schools (both far from home and each other), it was time to get them both a cell phone. For emergencies only. Yeah right, Mom.
One thing has remained consistent through all of this tech evolution- when guests come over, the tech goes off. My offspring's friends are quite surprised by this rule. Some even became panicked!
The rule is that any and all techie devices are put into a bowl on the dining room table. No tech is allowed anywhere but the living room and dining room. Absolutely no tech up in their bedrooms. At first their friends balked, but when they accepted this as the rule, they actually had a fantastic time! Most kids made plans to come over again soon, because they had a lot of fun and interacted with my kids- and us adults.
So here are the basic rules we live by to limit tech- and some additions for the younger generation:
Limit playing with Mommy's or Daddy's cell phone. It might be better to not let toddlers use it at all and only let them play tablet games with no internet. You never know when the wrong button will be clicked and phone contacts get deleted or see something they shouldn't!
Don't let them play anywhere/everywhere. Children get used to having it all the time, and when thwarted, kids can cause a lot of problems. The two worst places I've seen tantrums are in the car and in church. Oh yeah- this one will get you known really well by the congregation!
Schedule tech play time. With little ones, let them play fifteen to thirty minutes at a time. When they're older, extend it- but no longer than one to two hours for teens.
Don't give little kids their own phone. Phones were designed for communication, not a game console. Toddlers don't need it! Tablets with games are much better, and have bigger screens- or better yet, read a book with them!
Designate a tech space. We'd like to think our kids taking tech in their rooms with the doors closed won't get them into trouble, but why take that chance? Have chargers in one room and designate that as the room (or rooms) for their gadgets. Not only can time be monitored, so can the content.
No ear buds in the house. This helps prevent them from playing unapproved music or videos. Trust me- this is a really good idea.
Tech can be our friend, but it can also allow the Enemy to get into impressionable young minds. It's not easy to do this, but if you're diligent, it really pays off- and you'll have kids who actually enjoy talking to people!