For a very long time, I thought of technology as something that I had to “keep out” of my home and house and away from my children. I took the idea that children should be allowed no more than two hours of screen time a day very seriously, by basically not allowing them any screen time. I considered myself well versed in the dangers of screen time on children’s brain development.
Eric, in the meantime, has always been fairly pro-technology. I remember him telling my sister, who has two older boys, “don’t worry too much about them playing video games. There’s a lot of bonding that goes on during those times.” I silently scoffed. “No. My children will play outside. And run around and play make believe using sticks and pinecones and only what nature gives them,” I thought to myself. “My children will be elves.”
Well, my children are not elves. They enjoy time outside. But we don’t exactly live on a nature preserve. (In fact, we live along a very busy state highway, which means that time outside near our home can actually be incredibly stressful and harmful to their health and brain development in myriad other ways.)
We have recently undergone a number of technology upgrades around here: spear-headed, of course, by my husband. Making decisions about large purchases, and especially “tech” large purchases (if the opportunity presented itself, I’d probably buy a cow without batting an eyelash) gives me hives. Fortunately, I think it has the opposite effect on Eric. And, well, it turns out that I don’t hate all the tech upgrades. The girls and I have bonded over a few games, snuggled up on the couch together with the iPad, trying to solve puzzles and escape rooms. We chat and talk through the whole thing and also try to learn how to work together as a group.
We have had multiple conversations about the costs and benefits of technology and one theme that continues to emerge is the ways in which technology can serve to isolate individuals but that it can actually bring people together and be a social activity. We don’t have a “system” that we follow for amount of time on technology or in front of screens. Rather, we attempt to have on-going conversations and to “train ourselves” to listen to both the internal and the external cues that tell us we’ve had enough of interacting with the world in one way, time to do something else.
On that note… I’m hearing an external cue.