The Fight With Technology And Children

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My daughter just turned one, and even at this young age, we’ve been having the “technology fight” for at least four months.  For her, and at this age, I think she loves technology for several reasons.

Why Do Kids Love Technology So???

  1. There are bright, and constantly changing colors.
  2. BUTTONS!!!
  3. It’s something she can control (swiping through screens, pushing buttons, etc.).
  4. Copycat Syndrome – we use it, so she wants to.

Witness this picture that my mom caught while we were FaceTime‘ing of Madison at eight months old, “checking her email.”

Checking Email at 8 Months

This technology issue really became a struggle for us around nine months, once Maddie was more mobile.  It was especially difficult because my mom lives in Michigan and we rely on FaceTime to video chat and for her to see Maddie on a regular basis.  But, Maddie would not allow me to hold the iPad; she wanted it, but as soon as she had it she would either hang up or pause the call.

It is obvious these issues are not ours alone.  A brief scouring of the web comes up with many, many articles discussing “technology addiction” in children, though admittedly most of them address toddlers and older children.

Two Sides To Every Story

There seem to be two very distinct “sides” to the story; one camp says technology is evil and should never, ever be used, or at least not under two years, and the other says the type of technology and amount of use are important factors to consider, but that limited, active use of technology is OK.

One important thing I see discussed frequently, and with which I agree wholeheartedly, is that screen time should never be a replacement for human/parental interaction.  If it’s something you’re doing together, that makes it ‘more OK’ than if you’re just handing the child an iPad so that you can get some rest and quiet time.

Regardless, this wasn’t meant to be a post on the effect of screen time on babies and children; there are plenty of those articles already.  I really just wanted to discuss my experience.

Watching Pop Pop's Phone

Technology has been the cause of many, if not most, of Maddie’s meltdowns.  And, wrongly, we have found ourselves giving in way more than we should.  It’s easy.  She wants the phone; if I say no, she has a meltdown; therefore, I give her my phone.

This is the wrong way, by the way, to deal with this.

We have started being a little stronger, and using techniques such as distraction to steer her towards something she is allowed to play with, but we’re far from perfect.  Diaper changes, for example, have become a struggle – she doesn’t want to lay still.  Easy solution?  Put a device in her hands for the minute it takes to change the diaper.

 

 

Would a rattle or other toy work just as well?  Maybe; but a device is a guaranteed win.  These are things we’re working on, and becoming more serious about working on now that she has reached that “one year” milestone, but I know it will continue to be a struggle.

What is also fascinating to me is that our under-one-year child could do things on our devices that even we didn’t know how to do.  She figured out how to “split” the keyboard, which I didn’t even know was possible, taught us that when you have an app open on the iPad, you can swipe and change apps without closing one and opening the other, and several other things we had no idea how to do.  I’m sure this was discovered by accident, but it sure makes her look like a genius!

Using Technology On Itself

One thing I learned – when I queried my Facebook friends about this issue – is that there is a thing on the iPad/iPhone called Guided Access.  It allows you to turn on or tun off features.  That has been helpful for our FaceTime calls with Grandma, because I can “turn off” the home button and the ‘End’ button, so that she can’t hang up or pause the call.  I guess one solution is to use technology to make the technology work for you!

The Takeaways

First, technology is a part of life these days.  That’s just a fact, and one we can’t ignore, because as much negativity as we hear about technology and screen time, I do think there are positives, too, and this article agrees with me; this one, too, and many others.  The positives will only occur when technology is used correctly and appropriately, and there isn’t a consensus on what that means, but I think it’s obvious that it includes limiting time on technology, engaging actively with your kids vs. their passive use, and using appropriate apps/games.

Second, the technology issue really plays into discipline and limit-setting, which are important features of parenting.  Parents have to be strong and say “no” when appropriate, have set reasonable limits, and have to model the behavior they seek.  This is not easy, and I don’t claim to do it all of the time, or even most, but it’s a goal.

Lastly, there are ways to make technology work for and with you, using things like Guided Access.

Most important, don’t ever let technology replace your parental interaction with your children, and doing fun things like playing in laundry baskets!

Maddie In Laundry Basket

Do you have any thoughts or advice about technology use in kids, and how to deal with this part of our modern world and modern parenting?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

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