The other day my 7-year old son got off the camp bus and told me some of the other 6 and 7-year old campers had their iPads and cell phones with them on the bus. I knew where this conversation was ultimately headed so I did what any self-respecting parent of a 7-year old who is begging for an iPod Touch of his own, and who is desperately trying to teach her child that there is more to life than hand-held devices, X-boxes and laptops – I changed the subject. The next morning at the camp bus stop a good friend whose children also attend camp mentioned hearing that some of kids had their iPads and cell phones with them on the bus. No changing the subject this time.
We were both puzzled and agreed it wasn’t about these kids having their own iPad or cell phone (that’s their parent’s personal choice); it was about them having these things on the bus, in front of our kids – and using them responsibly. Talk about peer pressure. And I can only imagine the conversation in the home of one of these children if they happen to leave the iPad or cell phone on the bus, or it gets stolen. Will the parent be upset with the child or themselves?
I’m not against having my child or any other child use technology or even have their own devices – far from it, nor am I one to pass judgment on how others parent their children; heaven knows I’m not perfect. I just believe there is a time and place for said devices and summer camp is not one of them. The parent camp handbook agrees with me too, but I guess some parents skipped that page. I also know there will come a day when I’ll need my child to have his own cell phone — it’s just not right now.
Believe me, I’m not perfect. There are days when I succumb to the technology temptation my child possesses and give in to him just to have a conversation with my husband or get something done (guilty as charged), but at 7 years old, he’s not carrying around a cell phone or owns his own tablet, and he’s certainly not in charge of when he gets to use one of these. In fact, he’s currently in week 2 of a 3-week suspension for not following the rules and quite frankly, life has been pretty enjoyable.
Yes, technology has forever changed our world and that includes how we raise our children. Again, there’s no right or wrong answer to how much technology you should expose your child to, and at what age. The Internet is full of studies favoring one side or the other. In the end, it’s a personal decision. But, it is up to us, as parents, to teach responsible technology, for nothing more than our child’s safety and understanding.
And every so often, we need to unplug from everything and just let our kids be kids. There’s so much for them to do and experience. For example, last night, since we’re still in technology lockout at our house, my son and I played cards. Yep, good old-fashioned, Bicycle playing cards. He taught me a card game he learned at camp and I taught him Black Jack. Now that’s what I call parenting!
Please share your opinions and thoughts on the use of technology with young children!