When I was a kid I didn’t have a tablet. No lap tops, no game consoles that accessed the world wide web. I had a box in the living room that we could play mine sweep or solitaire on but it took twenty minutes or so to boot up. I spent most of my summer vacations playing make believe in the woods, riding my bike and getting cuts and bruises. Swimming in the pool and trying very badly to skateboard down the street. We didn’t have videos showing us about new toys. We didn’t have Snapchat and other such apps on our smart phones. Heck I didn’t even have a cell phone until I was almost 20.
This week I’ve been re-evaluating my kiddos screen time. I have heard so many crazy things about children now-a-days on their tablets and lap tops and such, watching things they shouldn’t. Talking to people they don’t know, sending pictures of an obsene nature to friends and girlfriend’s and boyfriend’s. Being bullies and starting rumors, sharing private things that should never leave their lips. My six year old is very fluent in the “smart” technology portion of our household. It terrifies me. Absolutely terrifies me.
She can almost use my phone better than I can. But where do I draw the line? Do I give her the room to make a mistake or do I limit her time? Do I take them all away? I don’t know. But what I do know is that education is key. For parents and adults.
First thing, know what your kids are doing. Know what they are watching. Don’t be afraid to ask them, be nosy. My kiddos aren’t allowed to be in another room with their tablet and have the door closed. I have a specific email that I have signed into every single internet capable device in the house. I’ve linked it to my cell phone so that I can see exactly what videos on YouTube she watches and exactly what activity she helps herself too.
I limit the time that she plays. I try to encourage her to play outside. Have sleepovers, color, play make believe. Of course now that she has had screen time it’s hard to pull her back from that. She wants to watch little kids on a video play make believe with their babies instead of actually playing herself.
But, none of that saved me from catching her watching inappropriate videos. She still tried and she still saw things she shouldn’t have. I took her tablet away, she was grounded for a month. We haven’t had any repeats of this behavior but the tablet has taking over her childhood play.
She won’t ride her bike, she won’t play outside, she would rather be in her tablet in her room.
I’ve heard stories from friends about their kids talking to strangers on social media, my own teenager daughter was recently involved in a “picture swap” if you will. I’ve heard of a 10 year old who was watching porn. Kids who are meeting up with grown adults they have never met, and being taken from their families. Some of them never to be seen again.
I think this house will be taking a break from the technology for awhile. Time to go plant flowers, have a picnic and take a walk. I want to protect my children. More than anything. I know that I can’t protect them from everything. But I’m sure as hell going try.
Hugs! – Mama Kuddo aka Kristy