Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies.... Part 2

Besides teaching our preschoolers to engage with the rich and wonderful world around them, rather than using technology for their play time, we need to be thoughtful in what and how we teach about technology to our school-aged children.

When children enter school-age, there’s an explosion in the number of technological devices and activities designed for them. That doesn’t mean every child has a right to use it all, or that he should use it all. It certainly doesn’t mean, the more he gets to use, the smarter and better socially adapted he’ll be. (The opposite is more likely true.) Parents and fellow teachers, just as not all food is good for your children, not all technology experiences are a valuable use of children’s time – and that includes “educational” technology.
Every piece of technology teaches something. About every potential new program, ask yourself: what values and skills does this technology teach? (That might be different from what it claims.) Does my child need those values or skills? Is there a richer, real-life way for her to learn those skills and values? What not-so-positive skills and values might my child learn from this technology? While she’s using it, what real life sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile experiences and movement will she miss?

Mama, don’t believe your child when he calls you mean for enforcing time limits or taking  technology away. Reassure her of your love, and don’t give in when she whines. Do encourage school-age boys and girls to experience a rainbow-wide array of real-life activities (even if they’re messy). You’ll be glad in the long run... I promise.

Mamas and papas, talk to your children about your family values, and help them discern which technology does and doesn’t support those values. Foster open, non-condemning discussions about these topics. Praise your children for their efforts to make value-affirming choices. If you tell yourself, “Well, every kid is doing this now, and I want my kid to be normal, so I’d better say yes,” you’ll later wish your teens weren't so eager to give in to peer pressure from other "normal" teens. Demonstrate a courageous example by standing up against peer pressure yourself.
When your children are in social situations, please teach them to turn their technology off and put it away. Teach them ordinary manners like making eye contact, greeting people and making conversation. Teach them to cope without technology when they’re waiting or even a little bored.

Mamas, please limit your school-aged children’s exposure to technology. They’re still young enough to shape, so be intentional about shaping them now.
Part 3 of "Mamas...." will appear on August 21
-- Reenie

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