We live in a technological age where we have smartphones where we can’t go five minutes without checking Twitter, Facebook, email, or Words with Friends, and the list goes on. I know I only have a 2 year old & one on the way, but Lboy is getting to the stage where he wants to use my Iphone to watch Netflix all.the.time. He can be distracted by the TV if it’s on, even if it’s not a kids’ show. Combine that with the fact that Todd & I spend a lot of time online (obviously.) Todd plays video games, he’s on Twitter, Facebook, & has a blog. I blog on 2 different sites, have a personal & 2 blog Facebook pages, 2 Twitter accounts, a Blog Frog Community, & numerous other accounts online.
Growing up, I was allowed an hour of TV during the weekday, my parents didn’t buy video game systems, we were required to spend all our free time outside before starting our homework, & in the summers it was go outside & play or come inside & do chores. Technology was no where near as advanced or accessible (& inexpensive) as it is now. We were one of the first families to have a computer & even then internet use was nothing like it is now.
I really believe that it’s important for my kids to be active like I was when I was little. But, at the same time, they are going to have to use the internet for homework & I’m not going to keep them from doing what other kids their age are doing by not allowing them to have Facebook pages or a cell phone. Besides how can I keep my kids off the internet when I spend so much time on it?
So what’s the healthy balance, is there a healthy balance, or does it even need to be balanced?
According to poll cited Parade Magazine’s article, Generation Wired, “51% of American teens log on to a social media site more than once a day & 22% log on more than 10 times a day […] and kids ages 11 to 14 spend, on average, 73 minutes a day texting; for older teens, it’s closer to two hours.” (Hello, I send up to 2700 texts a month. How do I tell my kids they can’t text all the time?!)
One of the biggest concerns that parents have is that their kids are “texting, checking Facebook, & chat” while they are doing their homework (also from Parade Magazine.)
Some things that we already implement in our daily lives, is Todd & I do not bring our computers or our phones to the dinner table (or any meal for that matter.) Todd doesn’t play video games when Lboy is awake & now that I’m not designing, my computer isn’t on if Lboy is awake.
As he gets older, our “rules” or guidelines will ebb & flow with Lboy’s (and other kids’) age & needs. For the time being, I will be happy with where we are at, pay attention to what we might need to change, & we’ll keep assessing what needs to be done.
What kind of balance do you think, if anything, your family has or needs?
To find out what kind of internet parent you are, go to: Parade.com/wired
My grandson, who is 8 now, has been able to text and speed dial since he was 4! When I bought my new iphone, he was the one who showed me how to use it! My daughter has to limit his TV, x-box and phone game time also…one hour each day…if that much, or he’d sit there all day long!
Kate P. says
Lol So true! Lboy can use an iphone amazingly well, it’s unbelievable!
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There definetely has to be a balance. I try to limit the amount of screen time my daughter has. My husband doesn’t exactly help the situation. He usually come home from work and wants to watch TV or be on the computer most of the night.
Kate P. says
I think it’s a man thing! haha Todd can be the same way sometimes. I know how it feels though, you want to come home & just unwind, especially when you’ve been at work all day. But, we have really been making a point that the TV stays off as much as possible. That being said if the AR Razorbacks or Dallas Cowboys are on…there’s no stopping Todd from having the TV on. lol
We also have rules in our house too. I’m not on the computer while the kids are awake and I’ve been making it a point to check my phone less and less.
My oldest, who is 11 and in 6th grade, is required to have a computer for school. (I was shocked.) A lot of his assignments are now required to be emailed rather than printed and handed in to the teachers. I still have rules for him too. He needs to ask permission before going on the computer and I need to know what he’s doing on there all the time. He does have a cell phone now, but that is because he walks to and from school. I feel safer if he has it.
Kate P. says
That’s crazy he has to have a computer! But really cool! We have some friends who live in Hong Kong & their kids have never used paper in school, computers only.
I think my kids will always have cell phones. Maybe not an iphone when they’re 10, but definitely something that can make phone calls & text so that I can get ahold of them. Especially when they are school age!
Courtney @ the Mommy Matters says
This is a tough one. We live in a digital age and even teachers are turning to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for educational resources and teaching methods. I think the biggest thing isn’t how much time they are spending online, but HOW they are spending that time. I think that’s what parents need to “police” and monitor. If children are doing homework online, then that doesn’t seem like something to be concerned about. But if they are SUPPOSED to be doing homework and are tweeting instead, then that’s when a parent has to step in and intervene. The internet isn’t going away, and neither is social media. It’s just going to be something that parents have to monitor.
Kate P. says
I really like this comment Courtney! I think that is a very valid point about not the amount of time they are spending online versus HOW they are spending their time online.
We had a math computer game on our computer as kids & we were allowed to play that as much as we wanted to. Oh & Mavis Beacon teaches typing, we were always allowed to do that. lol
Dana K says
Klaw is 18 mos and can work an iPhone better than my mom. Also? He has his own (old, messed up) iPhone to play games on. It’s great in the grocery store, in the car, at the doctor’s office, etc.
I thought I was going to be a NO TV EVER kind of mom, but I’m not. I do avoid the shows with commercials because I hate commercials targeted to kids. We don’t have a tv in our bedroom & neither will Klaw. He also won’t have access to the Internet outside of the family room. I’m not a fan of kids, technology, & seclusion.
I don’t know what I’m trying to say with all that except that the key is balance. We play outside everyday, take trips to museums, & visit with other kids as often as possible.
Kate P. says
The Iphone is a life saver isn’t it? One time we were driving home from my parents’ house (a 3 hour drive) & it started storming. The thunder & lightening were really freaking Lboy out & he kept crying. The driving was hard for Todd in the weather & traffic, so I handed Lboy my phone, turned on Thomas the Train & he was asleep in about 10 minutes. It was awesome!
I was never allowed a TV or phone in my room growing up. Lboy won’t have one either. How I’ll limit a cell phone, I haven’t figured out yet. But, I don’t want him having a comp in room either. I think with minors their internet time needs to be watched closely. There’s a really sad case in AR where a young girl met a guy online (in a Christian chat room no less-her dad didn’t think that site needed to be monitored), the guy said he was her age, turns out he was an old man who drove to her house & there was not a happy ending, it was pretty gruesome. I’ll leave it at that. I know it’s the most extreme case, but it really can happen to anyone.
Cam - Bibs & Baubles says
I think playing it by ear and re-assessing is a good approach. I only blog after my son has gone to sleep and I’m pretty much away from the computer on the weekends and only focused on family time. Sames goes for my husband. It’s working so far.
Kate P. says
Weekends are always a biggy for me too. I rarely, if ever, turn my computer on during the weekends.
Kate F. (@katefineske) says
I struggle with this all the time. I use to be a graphic designer (I use the term “used to be” lightly, because I still get talked into doing project occasionally and still teach graphic design at a local community college – BUT it is NOT what I do anymore 🙂 Ok, another conversation for another time…) anyway…
Because of this I was always on my Mac. And now I blog for a non-profit and am still always on my Mac. My oldest is 8 (almost 9) and – especially since I work from home – over the summer I know she saw me more than I would like to admit on my iPhone, Computer, iPad – whatever. And this has recently started to bother me more and more (primarily because I see how much much 3 kids learn from what I model).
So now (to conclude this long and ongoing comment – sorry!) I have been starting to get up early, when my husband gets up – around 5:30 and it has really helped stop my “computer time in front of the kids.”
Like you, we don’t allow electronics at dinner time. But it is a constant struggle to “protect” my kids from technology… and one that I don’t feel as though I am winning – and am not really sure HOW to win?
This is a struggle for me. I do believe there should be a balance when it comes to tv and internet time. But it is so hard to achieve. My husband and I have been trying to figure out a schedule, both for us and the kids.
I am a strong believer that technology not only makes the learning process much more fun, but it also creates allows a more hands-on experience for kids! If you are interested in other educational products for kids, I would check out our educational apps! 🙂
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