This is a story I saw on Instagram, quoted verbatim:
I made the mistake of downloading 1… ONE ABC learning game on my phone for my 2 year old daughter. smh
Three weeks later I finally had enough (not that I had much of a choice, she broke my phone out of frustration at the game).
Within those two weeks not only was she a master at this ABC game, she knew how to navigate herself through YouTube and managed to make her own Netflix profile on my phone! 😮🤯
She was too quiet one night and I found her watching this knock off American anime teen show.
Uggghh.. Lesson LEARNED! She already loves books and I have no idea what I was thinking when I downloaded the game for her.
It’s awesome that this woman realized her two-year-old didn’t need to be playing with a phone. I also kinda like that the kid broke the phone. LOL
But the more I learn about technology, and the more it infiltrates our lives and our kids’ lives, the more I feel myself putting up a wall.
As I read articles on technology, I see a slow-bubbling trend where people are getting off social media and reducing their use of computers/phones/internet. I believe we may have finally reached a tipping point where, as a society, we are realizing the dark side of all this fun stuff we play with.
There are lots of stories like the one above that villainize technology and how it takes over the minds of our precious little ones.
However, I’d like to argue that technology in and of itself isn’t the problem.
We have abdicated parenting to Apple, Google, LG, and Samsung.
The ABC learning game was not the problem. Technology isn’t to blame. Mom obviously left her daughter alone with the phone for an extended period of time multiple times. That is what led to YouTube, Netflix, and a broken phone.
As parents, we need to protect our kids from the world wide web, not use it to pacify them so we can accomplish a task in the day.
It is our job to spend time with our children. We need to be the ones to educate and entertain them. This is an area that cannot be outsourced to technology if we want to have incredible relationships with our kids.
Our sons and daughters desire connection with us, to be in our presence doing things with us. Whether a phone is in our hands or their hands it acts as a wedge between the building blocks of a parent/child bond.
Last night I put the two littles to bed and let our oldest, who is in 1st grade, stay up a bit longer. My wife was at work, so it was just the two of us boys. He was reading a gigantic Lego Star Wars book that he got for Christmas. Hopefully, he’d be busy awhile. I was cleaning up dinner and tidying the living room when I felt I just needed a break.
I had worked all day, rushed home to high-five my wife as she headed out the door to her job, then took over with our three kids. It was dinner, baths, bed, and cleaning. I was wiped and was counting down the minutes I could put the last child to bed. But I just wanted to sit and do nothing while the clock ticked.
Seconds after I left the house chores alone to numb my brain with Twitter and relax, my six-year-old put his book down, walked across the room, got about 8 inches from my face (as they do), and said, “How was your day, Dad?”
I immediately put my phone down and replied, “Well… I’m a bit tired right now. But overall, it’s been a pretty awesome day. How was school today? What did you do?”
The response eloquently fell out of my mouth at that moment, but my brain was actually saying, “How is your six-year-old son more mature than you? Why is he asking you about your day before you ask him? Why is he showing more interest in you than you are in him?”
So much of my day was about getting things done, whether it was for work or the family. And when I finally wanted to take a break I turned to my phone instead of connecting with my kid.
Not every night is like that though. Sometimes I’m good at throwing my phone in a drawer until the kids are in bed.
This week I had lightsaber fights three days in a row. I am happy to say that I am currently ahead 5 rounds to 3, with most of my wins coming as Kylo Ren.
We bought the boys Beyblades and Legos for Christmas, both of which I’ve now played with. The box from a little Minnie Mouse car for our 19-month-old daughter has now become a “spaceship” after the boys cut the top off and drew some controls with markers.
Childhood is the most creative season of one’s life. It’s the only time you believe you are a superhero and require everyone to call you by that name. I’m regularly told “My name isn’t Abel… It’s Gecko!” (Gecko is from PJ Masks for the uninitiated)
Let’s not squander their imagination by handing our children phones and iPads. Give them the gift of your presence and interaction. I promise they’ll find something fun to do, and it might just blow your mind.
These little people that we created and brought into the world don’t need some form of digital entertainment to keep them occupied. They needs us. They need connection and face-to-face interaction with parents who love them.
If we want incredible relationships with our kids, we must spend time with them being the ones to educate and entertain them. Our unique place in their lives cannot be outsourced to technology.
We get to be the ABC learning game that teaches our child letters. We get to be Kylo Ren with the red lightsaber fighting Luke Skywalker with the blue lightsaber. We get to build Lego vehicles and battle in the arena with Beyblades. We get to ride in a spaceship with Gecko.
We get to be parents.
Your kids are incredible, creative, little beings with sponges for brains. Spend quality time in their worlds creating with them, and teaching them all they want to learn.
You’ll build a connection that no other teacher has with your child and one that Apple and Google could never digitize.