It's 2015. When I had my first child, it was 2005. Needless to say, technology has changed tremendously since then- and so have my views on it when it comes to letting my children use it.
Circa 2004, I recall witnessing someone put their toddler in a high chair and stick them in front of the TV to watch cartoons. I was floored. I didn't ever plan to use a TV as a babysitter. Well, I never went to any extreme of making my child stay immobile in front of the TV, but I'll be honest, when my oldest boy was a toddler and was extremely needy, blessed was the day I saw him go sit in front of the TV and watch Dora with his sister. The same can be said for my almost 3-year-old. It is so nice to be able to have a single thought without it being interrupted- those are few and far between! So when he goes in the dining room and watches DVDs, it's a bit of a relief. Although I am able to see them from whatever room I'm in, it's nice to know I don't have to entertain them every second of the day.
|A little less of this (that's my boy!)...|
Bring on the iPhone. Circa 2007, I was working for an after school program in an elementary school. While working with my 3rd grade group, one of the students showed me her new bedazzled phone. This was the same girl who had highlights in her hair that she got professionally done. I remembered being shocked that anyone would give a child that young a phone (and completely floored someone would dye their child's hair that young!) Let's jump now to 2012. My daughter was in 1st grade and the teacher gave them a prompt for a journal entry that they were to write a letter to their parent telling them why they wanted an iPad, cell phone or iPod. When I read my daughter's entry at conferences, I was kind of happy. She said something to the effect of, "Dear, Mom, I would like a cell phone. I don't really need one or want one, but I had to pick and this was the only thing I'd heard of." Her teacher was surprised by this and I felt slightly proud of my parenting ways.
|...and a little more of this! (Isn't he adorable?)|
A couple years ago I was on a girl's night out excursion and one of my friends had to bring her kid. He did not want to be there and made it quite obvious and had somewhat of a meltdown. So she handed over her cell phone and let him play Angry Birds on it to get him to behave. I had prided myself in the fact that my kids behaved in public settings and I would be embarrassed if one of them had done that to me. I also remember thinking that I would never let my kid use my phone... cause it's MINE.
Here we are today: I bet you think I'm going to say that all my kids have a gazillion gadgets and I let them use my phone... well, not really, but things have changed! I don't let my kids use my laptop or my iPhone... they're MINE and I don't need little kid prints all over them. For the past 2 years I've had to listen to my now 9-year-old daughter talk about wanting a phone. When her friends have phones, she likes to point it out. I like to point out her friends that don't have phones. She says something all the time to the point I want to ground her until she turns 15- the age I think she would be ready for her own phone. Some parents say it is for safety reasons, but I don't let my kids venture anywhere alone and everywhere they do go has a phone. I survived without a phone until I was 20 and paid for my own.
And then there were tablets. So, my almost 3 year old is by far the most exasperating child I've had out of the four. This kid... literally... has driven me to the point of a breakdown on more occasions than I have fingers. So I will offer up a lot more things to appease him than I would have with the older two. No, I don't let him have my phone or my computer. But my husband caves a lot easier than I do. Sometimes he will give H his phone or even sit and watch whatever H wants on the living room TV- which is a big no-no for me. If I want to watch the TV in the living room, I'm definitely not giving it up to watch some lame kid's show! But here's what I do have. I had a temporary iPhone when my first one died and I was waiting for the replacement to come in the mail. I bought one with a majorly cracked screen cheaply on Facebook. When my new phone came, I figured I'd put some kid-friendly apps on it and let my daughter feel like she had her own phone. It also gave me leverage for something to take away when she got in trouble. The best app in the world for moms HAS TO BE Youtube Kids!!! This entertains H like none other! I can turn on whatever he says he wants to watch and he'll go away from me for a little bit. He was using my daughter's phone during the day while she was at school. Until she started throwing a fit. I didn't care that she was throwing a fit, but I wanted to teacher her a bit of a lesson, since it was HER phone...
I researched kid-friendly tablets. I wanted one that I could use if I wanted to watch Netflix or something, but I wanted one that was geared towards kids in terms of durability. Enter my Kurio 7s. Based on reviews, it seemed to be the best fit. And being the frugal mom I am, I bought one for $33 (shipping included) on eBay! It is AWESOME. It has the parental account that you can password protect and then you can create an account for each of your children that allows them to only use the apps you allow them to. For instance, for H I have YouTube Kids, a coloring app and a couple letter/number learning apps. Aside from that he can't do anything on it. For my 7-year-old, I have Angry Birds, YouTube Kids and some games that came preloaded that seemed age appropriate. That's it. Then for my daughter, I gave her all those same things, plus some girly apps and spider solitaire and mahjong tiles. That's it! You can make it so they can't use a web browser, can't access settings... they literally can only do the things you have set as allowable for them. And since my daughter insisted that it was HER phone, I showed her the Kurio and let her know that it was HER BROTHERS' tablet... she was not happy about that, but I use it as a reward for her if she does something good.
Are my kids technology addicts? Absolutely not! I don't want my kids raised on video games or TV. I wanted them to read, have imaginative play, become president. Basically, I want them to experience the kind of care-free existence I had as a child where my brothers and I played outdoors all year long, I read books all the time, I was even so dorky that one summer I handcrafted my own poetry book. My brothers and I were so dorky we made a family newspaper... yep, that all happened. I want to see my kids experience those kinds of things instead of being glued to tiny screens their whole lives. I'm by no means a perfect parent, and yes, my parenting thoughts have changed since 2005, but I still think I'm doing a good job. I've probably offended a few people with this, but hey, it's my blog and as I frequently say to my husband and kids, "I'm and adult!"
Now how do I log out of this thing?