Devices Away, Parents!
Technology is all around us, and as parents, it’s important for us to consider the impact of technology in our parenting.
I remember when my kids were young, I would take them outside for fresh air, exercise and conversation – sometimes even just to distract them or to give my wife a break.
I would venture out with the kid on a sled, rolling toy, tricycle, wagon or stroller. I remember fondly the running monologue I would do as my infant laid there like a lump. I remember the screaming, sad times, and the blessedness of a kid sleeping in the stroller. I love the stage when you can say things to a toddler and they talk with you! You can point out things you see and respond to your kids’ billion questions and observations:
“LOOK! WHAT’S THAT? IT’S A CAT!!! WHAT SOUND DOES A CAT MAKE? MEOWWW!!!”
While I was a grad student at Briercrest, and our first two boys were small, I remember taking my oldest son Mitchell out for a ride. We didn’t have a proper bike trailer, so I rigged up our plastic Lil’ Tikes wagon with a scarf wrapped through the wagon handle and tied to the seat post of my bike. Off we went. Should be fine.
Side-note: There’s something troubling about being the oldest child. The parents are really just figuring things out as they go. By the time you realize that your parents are total amateurs every stage, you’re basically grown up. Sorry about this Mitchell.
Anyway, we started the ride in fine form. Mitchell was smiling big and hanging onto the sides for dear life. I was taking it easy on the corners and looking back frequently to make sure my little bundle of joy was still joyful. Then on one long, gentle curve, I must’ve gone a little bit too fast or Mitchell leaned the wrong way. I looked over my shoulder and saw – in slow motion – my toddler tumbling out of the wagon onto the pavement. A terrible parenting moment.
On the plus side, it was either fall or spring because Mitchell was totally bundled up in winter clothing. He cried, got some road rash, but he was so well swaddled in the winter clothes the damage was minimal. Of course, I felt terrible as a parent! I realized something that I thought was fine probably really wasn’t.
I feel there is a parallel to this in today’s world. I have noticed quite a few parents glued to their own devices while taking walks with their kid or being at the park with them. I realize screens and devices are way more common now than 20 years ago.
This could just be an old parent being crusty, but I would recommend that as much as possible, parents would keep their devices away and their headphones off so they can enjoy the sights and sounds and experiences with their child. Kids today will grow up in a technology-saturated world – that’s a given. I think it’s wise as a parent to consider the place it has in your family.
I’m not an expert on parenting or technology, but I have raised four kids. I wrestle with my own pull toward the screens on my devices even when my grown-up family members are around. I’m currently reading and reflecting on the place technology has in families. I’d be interested in chatting about this if you have ideas or opinions.
How do you use technology when you are with your kids?
What things do you do as a parent where you purposely leave technology out?