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Has Technology Taken Away Childhood?

Has Technology Taken Away Childhood? HybridRastaMama.com Follow Me on Pinterest

Welcome to the October 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Technology

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their families’ policies on screen time.

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The year is 1979. I’m a wee one…just a few years old. My mom is sitting on the floor with me, playing patty-cake, watching my chubby hands gleefully clapped together.

The year is 1985. I am a happy 8 year old, running the streets with my little neighborhood girlfriends, giggling over Kirk Cameron’s newest poster one minute and playing Red Light Green Light the next.

The year is 1993. I am officially the most coveted babysitter in my neighborhood. People book me months in advance. Kids love my jumbo bag of goodies I always bring with me. Art supplies, games, blocks, puzzles, and playthings for all imaginations! My little charges cannot wait to see what I have stowed away in the bag-o-fun. We play and laugh all night whilst sitting cross legged in the living room, forgetting all about bedtime!

The year is 2000. A college graduate, I am working in the afterschool program at the nearby Salvation Army center. After homework is complete, the fun begins! Sure, there is a computer lab. But it gets largely ignored in favor of tried and true favorites like Duck Duck Goose, Charades, Red Rover, and every sort of arts and crafts project we can dream up! Storytelling is also much in demand!

The year is 2013. I walk into my friend’s house. Tiny and I stay for a couple of hours. I chat with my friend. My friend’s children stay firmly planted in front of the t.v. Her youngest, not all that interested in t.v., has not come up for air from some plastic toy with all kinds of lights, sounds, voices, and fancy buttons that do just about everything. Tiny whines about how bored she is and how no one wants to play with her.

I’m sorry, what? Three other children, all within your age bracket, would rather sit in front of the t.v. than PLAY? There is something deeply disturbing about that.

When I was a child, I played. Constantly. I played with things I found around the house. I played with things I found outside. I played with real live children. I played with my pets. I played with my toys. Toys that didn’t “do” anything but entice me to use my imagination. I colored. I created. I dreamt up wild adventures. I was rarely bored. There was always something fun to do. Things that I came up with on my own.

Sitting in front of the t.v., the computer, a video game, or other electronic devices wasn’t an option. We just didn’t have all that sort of media available back in the “old days.” (HA!)

Sure, there was Alfie, a talking Robot from 1980 that taught me things supposedly. But he drove my parents nuts so Alfie would often go on hiatus. And of course there was Nintendo and Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt and Zelda. But gaming wasn’t the big deal that it is now and my friends and I always had better things to do than to sit around and play video games. We would do things like hang out and talk. Or as youngsters, we played. Hard.

Tiny’ world is very different. Children are surrounded by and immersed in technology. And while I know that times are a changin’ and with that comes lots and lots of technology, I truly am saddened by the toll it has taken on our youth.

Childhood is so very sacred. We only get to be children for a very short period of time. The opportunity to play with reckless abandon is stripped away from us far too soon. Even without technology. Why expedite that?

We have become far too busy for our own good and that of our children’s. We have to do this and that in order to be fulfilled. Going here and there at breakneck speed is the norm. Keeping kids quiet and out of our hair is par for the course. Most parents sing the praises of technology. After all, it raises their children for them. Why mess with something good?

Sorry – was that judgmental? Good. I meant it to be.

We all need to open our eyes when it comes to our children’s childhoods. How much time are they spending outdoors, frolicking, getting dirty, connecting to the earth? How much time are you engaged with them in good old fashioned imaginary play? How often are they running amuck with their friends, being active, being a kid?

When you glance over to see what your child is doing, is he or she covered head to toe in glue and feathers or is he or she zoned out in front of a screen? Which do you honestly think defines a healthy childhood? (Hint – I am not looking for a response that includes technology).

I am not at all knocking the role of and importance of technology. It allows to me quickly find the answer to Tiny’s endless stream of questions. Looking up facts, directions, images of things we are curious about can be fun, a great way to connect with your child, and educational. Technology has also allowed many parents the opportunity to successfully homeschool their children. It has it pluses. But….

Technology should not define childhood.

It really shouldn’t. Sitting in front of a screen is not what childhood should be about. At least not from where I sit. In front of my screen. (Oh, the irony right?).

Technology can be a tool used by parents during their children’s early years but it should not be the main source of entertainment, education, or human modeling for any child. Studies back me up on this one. But you all already knew that.

I strive to provide Tiny with every opportunity to play and be a carefree, dreamy, creative child who views technology more as a “treat” at this point in her life. It is there when we really need it (like on days when the entire family is sick) or when I HAVE TO make an important phone call.

What I find really interesting is that while Tiny’s technology loving friends can spend an entire day watching t.v., playing video games, or messing around on the computer, Tiny tires of it after about 30 minutes. She becomes antsy to play and be active and engaged with the children around her. I credit this to my not raising her in front of the t.v. For Tiny, t.v. does not equal entertainment. Dirt, water, blocks, silks – now THOSE are good entertainment.

And this mama could not be more proud. It warms my heart to know that Tiny is experiencing childhood as it was meant to be experienced.

How does technology look in your home? Similar? Different? Do you regulate it or do your children have free access? Please share as I find the use of technology to be an interesting conversation!

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (list will be updated throughout the day on October 8):

 
  • Has Technology Taken Away Childhood? — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama worries that technology is intruding on the basic premise of childhood – active play in all forms! Join her as she takes a brief look at how play has changed as technology becomes more integrated into the daily lives of our children.
  • Fostering a Healthy Relationship with Technology — Jenn at Adventures Down Under describes her children’s love of screen time and how her family implements their philosophy and policies on technology.
  • Kids Chores for Tech PrivilegesCrunchy Con Mommy shares how tying chore completion to iPad privileges worked in her house to limit screen time and inspire voluntary room cleaning!
  • Screens — Without the benefit of her own experience, sustainablemum explains her family’s use of technology in their home.
  • Screen Time – The Battle of Ideologies — Laura from Laura’s Blog explains why she is a mom who prioritizes outdoor natural play for her kids but also lets them have ample screen time.
  • The Day My iPhone Died — Revolution Momma at Raising a Revolution questions the role technology plays in her life when she is devastated after losing her phone’s picture collection from her daughter’s first year.
  • Finding our Technological Balance — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she finds balance between wanting her daughter to enjoy all the amazing technology available to her, without it overwhelming the natural parenting she’s striving for.
  • Raising kids who love TV — Lauren at Hobo Mama sometimes fears what children who love screentime will grow up to be … until she realizes they’ll be just like her.
  • No Limits on Screen Time? Is that Natural? — Susan at Together Walking shares misconceptions and benefits of having no limits on technology and screen time in their home.
  • Screen Time — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares what is currently working (and what hasn’t) regarding screen time in her household.
  • Positive Use of Technology with Kids — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her family’s experiences with early technology, shares helpful resources from around the blogosphere, and speculates on what she’d do as a parent with young children today.
  • why i will never quit you, TV — How Emma of Your Fonder Heart came to terms with the fact that screen time is happening, and what balance looks like between real and virtual life for both her toddler AND herself.
  • Technology Speaks — Janet at Our Little Acorn finds many uses for technology – including giving her child a voice.
  • 5 Ways to Extend Children’s Screen Time into Creative Learning Opportunities — Looking for a way to balance screen time with other fun learning experiences? Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares 5 fun ways to take your child’s love of favorite shows or video games and turn them into creative educational activities.
  • What parents can learn about technology from teachers — Douglas Blane at Friendly Encounters discusses how technology in schools enhances children’s learning, and where to find out more.
  • 5 Tips for a Peaceful Home — Megan of the Boho Mama and author at Natural Parents Network shares her favorite 5 tips for creating a peaceful home environment.
  • Technology and Natural Learning — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes about the importance of technology as a tool for natural, self-directed learning.
  • Babies and TechnologyJana Falls shares how her family has coped, changed their use of, relied on, and stopped using various forms of technology since their little man arrived on the scene
  • Kids and Technology — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about the benefits of using technology with her preschooler, and includes a few of their favorite resources.
  • Using Technology to Your Advantage: Helping Children Find Balance — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how technology can be used or abused and gives a few tips to help children learn balance.
 

 

Comments

  1. You brought back memories of my babysitting box! I used to fill it with dress-up clothes and stickers and all sorts of fun stuff. I think we both must have read The Babysitters Club books…

    We watch more TV than you do, obviously, but I definitely am conscious that there is only one childhood, and that play is prime. Thanks for your post!

  2. I completely agree with you on some things and not so much on others (obviously since I’m the one who posted about not limiting my kids ;-)

    I do agree that technology should not “define” childhood. I agree that PLAY is so important, as is getting outside, being engaged with other kids of all ages, and I agree that times are changing.

    Out of curiosity – what are the ages of the kids’ at your friends house and how old is Tiny? Do they play together often?

    I think that there is a difference too between kids in school for most of their daylight hours and kids that are home-schooled – there is just so much more freedom and flexibility in our schedule – my kids get tons of everything and then we can choose when we need to slow down – which leads me to the other thing I wholeheartedly agree with – we need to slow down. And we need to connect human to human. I know that I can connect with my kids while they are using technology and I should more.

    But, I have to say I find it interesting that I see in my daughter (that she shuns TV often for PLAY when she has the playmates available) and I attribute it to her freedom to choose and free access to technology. We humans are funny that way no? We see what we want to. I still maintain that our relationships with our kids is the most important thing, and sounds like you and Tiny enjoy a great connection!

  3. I agree that when screens replace play then they are not being used appropriately. I look at screen use over a period of days as well as each individual days. Some days we use them alot other days hardly at all. It is striving for a balance that is important I would say.

  4. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that technology is a useful tool but should not be the main source of entertainment or education…for anyone of any age really!

  5. Agreed! I know I watched TV, because I remember Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers being important to me. But not for as many hours as many kids do today, and the variety of shows was far less. Kieran is SO motivated by screen time. It kills me. We’ve worked out a daily limit that we can both live with, but I love the days when he forgets about having any screen time.

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  2. […] Has Technology Taken Away Childhood? — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama worries that technology is intruding on the basic premise of childhood – active play in all forms! Join her as she takes a brief look at how play has changed as technology becomes more integrated into the daily lives of our children. […]

  3. […] Has Technology Taken Away Childhood? — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama worries that technology is intruding on the basic premise of childhood – active play in all forms! Join her as she takes a brief look at how play has changed as technology becomes more integrated into the daily lives of our children. […]

  4. […] Technology and Childhood from Hybrid Rasta Mama […]

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