Parenting and Technology

Technology and Moms. I am certain a group of moms could talk for hours on this topic! It’s a common thread when I am with my other friends who are also parents and it is also a thread I interact with on a DAILY basis in our home.

How much is too much?

How can I keep up?

How do I protect my kids?

Generally, most Moms I know hate that their sons especially love video games as much as they do and they work tirelessly to get their kids to do something-anything else! Go outside! Play a sport! Build something! Ride your bike! Talk to a real person who is in the room with you!

I struggle with what the right balance is for our kids. I learned to type on an electronic typewriter people. In high school, I was still passing real paper notes. I’m not even 40! Technology has grown by leaps and bounds in my generation. In fact, we are the generation that has one foot in each world; a world with an abundance of technology and a world we remember with more limited technology. I hope this makes me famous in my kids eyes one day….

On the one hand, I loathe technology because I cannot stay on top of how fast it moves and changes. I figure out one thing only to find out I have figured out a concept that is already 6 years old. I am grateful for my husband and for every computer nerd I know because I need them. Just this week my 8-year old has locked himself out of his iphone (thinking he’d be sly and change his pass code so his brother can’t get into it…and then he forgot it) and my husband cannot figure out how to fix it!

If you are a parent and you take your child to any sort of “boring” place, the DMV, a doctor’s office, parent/teacher conferences and you hand your child a piece of technology, you already know some people will give you seething looks of disapproval. They’ll scoff about how kids don’t need an ipad in front of their face in every down moment of their life.

The trouble is-I TOTALLY agree. But sometimes, I HAVE to accomplish something that is boring, long and tedious-and all my little people have to come with me. I don’t always bring out the technology for every errand. However I do use it occasionally.  I have educational apps on my devices too!

I don’t want to keep my children away from the fast pace that technology moves. They are already surpassing me with their intuitiveness and I believe it is because of the access they have had to technology. (And don’t even get me started on how this is going to cause greater gaps between educated privileged people and those who have poor education and no access to technology!) I want my kids to have these skills because the technology we utilize now will be archaic by the time my kids are in college. And I will need them to teach me how to use it so they will still talk to me. 🙂

All that to say, here is our family’s technology rules so far. Our rules seek to strike a balance between creativity, experiencing boredom and problem solving as well as good old fun indulgence with what they like. And I say this in hopes that it is helpful!

1.) No video games on school nights. M-Th find something else to do with your time. Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday is free play

2.) No video games or television after dinner. Once we’ve eaten dinner, you must find something else to do with your time, unless it’s family movie night.

3) Children in our home will never, ever, ever, ever, ever have a television in their room so long as they live under this roof. Period.

4) 30 minutes of a hand held device free play is allotted daily to each kiddo provided they have done their chores

5) You must ask permission before you add friends, enter a conversation or purchase something on the xbox

6) Mom and Dad will look at every message you send on your phones/hand held devices or in other venues of technology. Just know we are watching you.

So far, these are the only rules we have needed in our home. It has been enough, but I know that all this will change soon. None of our children are allowed on Snap Chat, Instagram or Facebook or any other social media/image sharing app (they are 4, 8 and 11 though). I am always reading and investigating, asking and researching what other parents have done. If you have instituted some amazing boundary in your home that works, won’t you share it here in the comments section?

I hope that we can all share ideas and learn from our failures and successes. I think we all long for our kids to be happy and have fun while learning as they grow not just about technology, but about life and about themselves. Thanks for reading!

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Seen and Known

Two weeks ago our friends, the Metcalfes from Seattle, joined us in the freezing mid-west for a fun extended weekend together. We haven’t seen each other for almost one year! It was so good to be with them – because we have 10 years of history together. They have done life with us through some of the hardest seasons of our lives and they know how new things affect us as a result of that knowledge.

The best part though is that not only do we have history together, we have futures together too. We dream together of what could be, what we long to see unfold, what stirs our hearts and souls and what makes us mourn. We laugh together. We tease each other. Conversations flow easily and sometimes silence and presence are enough to fill the moment. It is so lovely to be in their presence and to enjoy one another! Speaking the past and dreaming the future fuels our friendship and warms up embers that maybe are less full of life because of distance and the lack of being able to live in the same zip code.

Here are some pictures of our fun times together.

After our visit, my heart was stirred up in regards to how passionate I feel about friendship and community. To me, community means that you are seen, known and loved and that you willingly place yourself there. It is an environment where people “get” you, but also a place where you are willing to hear what those people who get you have to say to you – the good and the less than good and the bad.

This means that they might say something to you that’s not so great to hear. There might be an observation made that is uncomfortable. But when you are in this kind of community there is an understanding (that has come through trials of fire sometimes!) that you will wrestle with what is brought out.

That’s hard stuff. There are not many people I want to have that kind of relationship with and there are even fewer I trust to do that with me!

This isn’t the kind of community you have with everyone. But it must be present with someone. Community like this helps us to keep our hearts soft I think. It sees through the tough exterior that hides what is down deep.

I don’t experience this kind of friendship with everyone, but I can’t imagine my life without experiencing this somewhere with someone. The grateful heart that this visit from our dear friends stirred up in me helped propel me to other areas of gratefulness too. I found myself thanking God for the people in my life (and zip code) who see things that another would miss.  I prayed that I would be the kind of person who sees things more clearly so I can love them well too.

May you be stirred toward gratefulness for someone you celebrate seeing and knowing and being seen and known by today.