Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Two boys left behind. Technologically speaking.



I have to chuckle when I hear people (parents in particular) tell me that not on boarding the technology bandwagon, will render our kids left behind. While I obviously agree there's a place for technology, my immediate (inside voice) response is left behind of what? The practice of being unsociable, the art of missing real world experiences for digital babble or missing beauty of this moment for the placation of a high score?

"But that's how they are connected these days". So....... we're back to 'everybody's doing it'?  

We have two boys, 12 & 14 who were 'left behind' the phone / device phase through public school. Our 14 year old still doesn't have a phone. He's got a touch and until such time he learns the responsibility of paying for his phone, he'll be touching away. Coincidentally, he's just made honors in 1st year high school so we'll continue to draw our own conclusions to the factors that did & did not contribute to this accomplishment. What we do know, is he uses his brain to learn & do things in his down time because we've removed the option of being instantly gratified.

Our youngest is as orange a personality profile gets and we identified that early. This means, given what he wanted (a device) we would have helped amplify his distraction when what he needed was/is support around being focused. They both get 2hrs max of screen time / day. This includes all recreational screen time; tv, computer & device for the eldest. Not only do we mandate two hours maximum, but we also follow through on it's implementation to the point where the boys now recognize (on their own) when they are finished.

What's amazing.... is not us. What's amazing is watching what they do (without prompting) when their screen time is over. They practice their sports, they play outside, they make up games, they focus on doing their homework and they use their brains to be creative. Amazing? Not really the right word. Duh, maybe.

I see & hear about similar personality type kids (with devices) doing poorly in school while their parents scratch their heads. I see & hear about sports teams where, the minute the coach leaves after the pre-game talk, the games come out. I've been on the bench during a game (rep tier) where kids are talking about the score of a video game they are playing over the score of the hockey game they are in. This is too bad because to a degree it's not their fault. Games are addictive, and by letting it go, we're inadvertently feeding the addiction.

We've recently implemented a house rule that visitors (their friends) must check their phones in with us when they come into the house. SUPER HARSH. "Dad, no one's going to want to come over and play anymore" to which I replied, "the people that are truly interested in YOU will still come over and PLAY". It's embarrassing to see how kids 'play' these days; huddle in front of a device, texting others while visiting. Connected? No, disconnected. 


So we'll ride out the tech bandwagon for as long as we can, take our lumps from not having our kids plugged in the hopes that one day, when the boys are knocking on the door for your daughters hand, applying for roles in your organization, or contributing in some way shape or form in your community, you'll have a pretty good idea of what you're getting while at the same time they have a pretty good idea of what you're expecting.

Parents. don't follow fads. Lead shit.

1 comment:

Malcolm Chrystal said...

sweet...handing in your devices at the door...i love that.

Our 9 yr old foster boy gets 0-3 hours of screen time a WEEK...if he's lucky! and 80% of the time it is with one of us or with a friend. TV/movies/singing youtube songs is best done with a friend....that makes them a social event!