I was listening to the radio the other night – yes radios stations still exist – and the host was discussing the topic of giving your children access to tablets, phones, computers, etc. He opened up this question to his viewers and I was expecting at least a few people to say it was okay; instead, every single parent that called in spoke as if the internet was a gateway drug.
Listen, you have never felt true bliss until you hand your kid a tablet, sit them on the couch next to you, and switch the television over from Nick Jr to something a little more “adult”. Like a hockey game so you can watch your team lose for the fourth time in a week, but that’s a much angrier article for another week.
Do you know how long it’s been since I got to watch something on television – before midnight – that wasn’t asking me to do math or which shapes fit in which hole?
Too damn long.
I mean I get it. Parents want their kids to socialize and be active and contribute to society or whatever. And that’s great, really. Kids need to interact with other kids and they need to stay active; I’m not protesting against those ideas. I’m just saying that it’s possible for your kids to have it all.
When Dylan, my daughter, starts elementary school I expect her to be working with technology immediately. It’s the world we live in. Your kids are without a doubt going to interact with the internet at school. So, if they’ve never played with a tablet before they’re going to be behind before they even make it through the door.
You can’t bring a kid into to an ever-increasing technological society and deprive them of technology. Dylan spends a lot of time on my phone. I use this time to clean, complete coursework, or just breathe for three seconds, because children take a lot out of you.
This doesn’t mean she’s always on my phone; she’d much rather go outside than stare at a screen for an hour. Like last night when she stared longingly out into the night and asked: “mama can we go see the moon”? And I had to tell her “no Dylan it’s ridiculously cold outside and your allergies are terrible.”
She has a good balance of being familiar with technology but understanding other things are more important – unless her father’s calling and she’s watching Elmo, then her priorities get a little muddled.
And Dylan’s like a baby genius with the phone. She knows where YouTube is, knows how to pause and play videos, and how to clear my notifications off the screen. She’s basically an Apple maestro. I don’t mind it, because she sees how much time her father and I dedicate to our phones and so playing with one seems like the norm.
Her father and I could police how much time each of us is spending on our phones but seeing as how I’ve got friends hours away from me, a mother who loves to tag me on Facebook posts, and I just enjoy being connected; I don’t see that happening.
So Dylan’s going to have a tablet, but she’s also going to play outside, and she’s also going to shove Peppa Pig and Doc McStuffins figurines in my face and make me play pretend for an hour. She’s a cultured kid. As long as it doesn’t become too much I really don’t see the harm in letting my daughter have her ‘internet’ time. It keeps us both happy.