When I was growing up, my parents had two TV’s in our home and my mom had a cell phone in her car (it was literally built into the car). Neither TV had cable because my parents didn’t want us glued to it. They encouraged us at any time of day to go outside to play and “to be kids”. I’m aware that most of us grew up this way. Am I wrong in saying that I believe we had better relationships, we wrote letters more, and we socialized at one another’s homes more often? There was one (maybe two) phones in a house and none of the kids had smart watches or GPS devices on them. This may be me, but man how terrifying it has become when all you see around you are people staring at a phone.
Fast forward to today
We are now in a world where you can’t even take your kids to dinner without setting up some type of tablet or phone in front of them just so that they are quiet. We, as consumers, cannot go anywhere without a smart phone, iPad, or computer, and I don’t know about you, but I’m totally guilty of it. I’ve given my child a phone at dinner because she was freaking out, but what happens when you take that phone or iPad away? The world ends according to our children and that is terrifying. In what world did it become socially acceptable for someone (a child or adult) to lose their minds if something so frivolous is taken away? My child has certainly never had a breakdown if I took a book from her, or coloring sheet for that matter. What kind of power do these screens have over our kids that takes them away from reality?
I’m not bashing any parent that does this, but I’ve become genuinely worried for us as a human race. We can’t even go to bed anymore and just talk to our spouses. Instead, we both lie there on our phones “keeping up” with what’s on Facebook or Instagram. The advances in technology have some amazing perks and have helped the medical field tremendously, but I’m sad to say that it’s also creating monsters in ourselves and in our children. It’s truly become an addiction, and one that’s in plain sight. I mean, even my parents now each have an iPhone an iPad, laptop and desktop computer. As soon as my children go over to their house, the first thing they want is that stupid iPad.
How did we get here?
Have we just become more lazy as parents and adults that we don’t want to play with our kids or talk to one another anymore? Do we need to become more creative about what to bring to keep our child’s attention during a dinner out? I don’t ever remember my parents having to do that. We were always happy with one coloring sheet and it kept us busy until food arrived. How many times lately have you gone out and seen a couple on a “date” yet both are on their phones?
Are our kids too over stimulated from all the technology that a simple coloring sheet will not suffice? We’ve even been to restaurants now that give a child a tablet to play with at the table instead of coloring sheets. As soon as I say no to this, my child has a meltdown and I look like a horrible mom. Why is that becoming a new normal? Teenagers simply cannot be away from their phones or tablets. Here’s why; we, especially our children, are addicted. Technology and gadgets provide stimulation. It’s a way to escape and although we may think we are being “social” we actually are not. If we become addicted to these tech devices, then we may end up feeling depressed, anxious, and even more alone than if we had truly socialized, engaging in one each others lives personally, rather than virtually.
While I do believe some technology can be beneficial, especially if it is used for learning new skills and being creative, I do think it’s easy for over usage which can be detrimental. For example, I know someone who has had trouble getting the iPad away from their child. The child will watch something on the iPad before bed and will end up losing sleep or wetting the bed because the thought of having the iPad taken away is too much. That child is ten years old.
Preventing technology addiction
So, how do we prevent our children, and ourselves, from becoming addicted to technology? There are many ways, but the most important way would be to limit the time we are exposed to these gadgets. I know how easy it is to give an iPad to a child in order to make parenting a little less difficult that day, but if it becomes a reoccurring habit, then the child may begin to act out or throw tantrums just to get said tech gadget. I’ve also found that the “out of sight, out of mind” works wonders for younger children. We have one iPad for our family that we use while traveling and keep it hidden in a closet where our 3.5 year old cannot see it. This way she won’t ask for it. It’s time we get back to forcing kids to be outside instead of behind a screen. It’s time to show children how to garden again, to play more sports, plant flowers, or build something with their hands. Not just for our children, but for ourselves as well, I’ve caught myself many times on my phone looking at something insiginficant instead of playing with my kids. When we realize how addicted we’ve become as adults, it will be easier to stop it for our kids.