Welcome back readers!
I didn’t receive my first cell phone until I was eighteen.
Of course, I grew up in a time when cell phones weren’t being handed out to children right out of the womb. It just wasn’t necessary for me to have one until I went off to college. My wife actually can do one better than me; she didn’t get her first mobile phone until in her twenties! In today’s world these contraptions (along with various other technological advancements) are ingrained into our everyday lives. Yet somehow, my wife and I have done pretty well to not indulge in every new gadget that hits the market.
I think the reason the two of us are this way is due to a simple fact; we are the last generation with a majority of individuals raised on the simplicities life has to offer. Dinner time was made to be a family gathering and not a time to have any high-tech distractions. Playtime for us was mostly outdoors and we used our imaginations.
With a continual trend towards supersaturation of media stimulation, children aren’t developing the way they should. And of course, all of this exposure doesn’t just hinder our young children; too much social media can have an impact on short-term memory for everyone, including adults. Oh shit, I recently created a Twitter account to promote my blog! Hope that doesn’t affect me…
So, that’s the secret to making stronger coffee. Wait, I forgot what I was writing about. DAMN YOU SOCIAL MEDIA!! Okay, found my train of thought.
I think a big question in parenting which doesn’t present itself outright is how much exposure to media is okay for our kids? The reason I say it’s an obscure problem goes back to what I mentioned earlier; it’s hard to get away from the virtual influence. Sometimes we just unwittingly zone out, subjecting ourselves to far too much. Like technology zombies.
So, how do we parents handle this dilemma?
I know this will be a big challenge for my wife and I with a toddler and eventually, a new baby. Actually, who are we kidding it’s already a challenge! Our son is like every kid and loves that big glowing rectangle. And honestly, I’m as guilty as anyone else, letting him watch his shows at certain times (because Papa can only play so much hide-and-seek!). Even though I show him only educational programs, there has to be a limit because it’s still television. The sad thing is there are some facts which show media is basically our children’s pastime in today’s society:
So far, we have limited our son to between a half-hour to an hour of television per day (at the most). He doesn’t ask for his favorite shows too often. And if he does plead and it isn’t the right time, a simple “no” from one of us deters him. Luckily, it works. So far.
As for the other technological nuisances, we have created a fluid timeline when we feel our kids will be ready for certain privileges, such as:
Age Five: Can watch more than one hour of television per day
Maybe. And this really depends on football season and if they become fans.
Age Ten: Can get their first video game system
We don’t even own one ourselves (unless you count the Nintendo® 64 serving as a paper weight in our bookshelf). There ARE stipulations to this rule. They can only play for a couple of hours. On the weekends. If they can mow the lawn in under an hour.
Age Sixteen: Can get a cell phone for the first time
My wife and I both feel a cell phone is only necessary once a teenager starts driving. This way, in case any emergencies happen, they have a way to contact us. Also, here’s to hoping the driving age in Florida is raised to twenty-one.
Those are just some of the guidelines we have talked about for our kids. We want to try ideas which ensure our family stays connected to each other as much as possible and doesn’t become too connected to the media world. The whole point is to try to show future generations there is more to life. Time will tell if our rules work for us (and maybe other parents reading this). We also may have to eventually change some details. Except for mowing the lawn. That rule stays, dammit.
-Do other parents reading this feel the same way? Do you have your own set of guidelines to attempt deterrence of too much media? Or do you feel like it’s a waste of time trying to stop its influence?
Feel free to comment below!