04 January 2012

Electronics, Etc.

I love photos of Buby and his cousin at my mom's house on Christmas Day. These boys are two of the sweetest, and seeing them grow old-er toge ther makes my heart smile. But Buby's attention to technology last week also made me crazy. It felt like a theme vacation.

Our six year old doesn't have a whole lot of experience with electronics. We deliberately keep things simple at home. He builds, draws, puzzles, reads and explores in his free time. We don't do high-tech gaming systems, tvs in bedrooms, kids on web, etc. I have a strict no movie rule during the school week and never turn on the tube for myself until after 8pm. On weekends My Sweets might rent a G-rated film from Redbox or watch The Food Network while he cooks, but that about does it for media consumption around here. I wish we'd never discovered On-Demand.

Enter Family Land. We spent the week after Christmas visiting Grandma DJ and Tom G... and their never-ending supply of animated films and shows, iPad games, Angry Bird phone apps. Buby was in heaven. Then we mosied on over to my parents' to see family... and it was more of the same. Every two seconds someone was handing over their hand-held or popping in a new movie for all the wee ones. Gadgets now are so instinctive--and addictive--that children of any age can master them in about 5 minutes flat. I was completely blown away by what I saw Buby do with other people's toys. And everyone had them--grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.

Of course it was vacation {and we were stuck indoors... and sick} so I didn't mind at first. Especially since Bleu and Bear didn't partake and most of the apps were educational. I admit I was impressed how fast Buby learned all 50 state capitols on the iPad, but by mid week I'd had it with the screen time. Too much zoning out = cranky kids in my book. I missed home and our more quality interactions. I guess we'll never be a big gadget family because I'm a stickler for face time. REAL face time. Yes, My Sweets and I have our share of smart phones and laptops {and now an iPad 2 he surprised me with for Christmas}, but our stuff is ours. The children don't and won't have free reign to play anytime they want. Their awake time is too precious.

Wow. That sounds selfish, but really I don't think littles should own expensive hand-held devices or be left to play them for hours on end. Moderation is key, and it's a slippery slope. I'm sure one day Buby will voice his own opinion. But for now he's six and fully immersed in the joy of being six.

I know people feel very differently and will say that electronics are just a reality of the times. That in many ways the fast-changing tech scene prepares our kids for tomorrow. I don't know.
I can't stand the thought of tweens running around with personal internet devices in their pockets... posting to Facebook in their rooms at night. I'll always be old school on this one, but I am curious. What do you think? How much of the i-world do you let into your world? And your child's? Leave a comment and tell me. I have good friends on both ends... some who don't own a single television and others who have years of late-night Wii tournaments under their belts before they even start school.

When Buby was two I had a mother's helper named Kiki who was 11. She once asked me, "When will he get his first cell phone?" I thought she was joking but quickly realized she and her girlfriends already had them. Eeks! My initial response was, "Never."

P.S. Yes. They'll have phones. Someday. For emergencies. Ha!

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