Wow, technology has really come a long way in the last 30 years, has it not? As a child I used to sit and wonder about what my grandparents had seen. What did I miss? Now, I look at what our world has accomplished and continue to watch it evolve in awe. I find myself wondering, “Does mankind ever reach a limit? Is there ever a time when you cannot build or invent anything that isn’t already available?” I may never know the answer to that question, and honestly I think I’m okay with that.
The world changes rapidly, and within its man-made transformation, people are changed with it. In my short 29 years of life, I have seen drastic changes in medicine, lifestyles, and in particular, massive technological advances. Do not be mistaken in thinking my observation of change is an implication of something bad. In most cases, it’s the exact opposite. It’s incredible the mind God has given man and the good that has come from such major advances. But with every step forward, is there unforeseen ramifications that must be acknowledged? How will these advances affect the next generation, both positively and negatively? Although the thought is interesting enough, it’s not my goal to answer all of those questions. It is, however, my intention to share our choices for our children and what it has done for them.
Changing the Pattern.
When our first three kids first came to live with us, we were unaware of how much they felt they needed screen time. In fact, at that time, we had developed very little opinion on screen addiction and the effects it takes on children. We were just wingin’ it!
It was when we started to use them and take note of the changes in behavior that we realized we might have a problem. Our youngest was 5 at the time. She could be doing anything at all…eating, playing, singing…and if anyone, anywhere close by, turned a screen on, she immediately dropped what she was doing and, mouth hanging open, succumbed to technology’s enticing call. If we turned on a tv show or a movie, they physically drooled, mouths open the entire time. We would call their names and they couldn’t hear us. We would clap loudly…still didn’t hear us. At one point we were giving them individual tablet time, but made them share between one device. If one kid got seconds longer than the last one, my house turned into WWIII. It was demanded that those seconds be compensated.
We realized that this was something that we could not change overnight. It was still a mental addiction. However, our minds were made up. We did not want our kids to be so reliant on screens to make them happy. We watched them toss their behaviors, their relationships with their siblings, time and even active play in return for any time spent in a virtual world. Our kids were malnourished, failing school and physically unfit for children at their age. There were many, various factors that contributed to that, but a sedentary existence was not helping.
So, we made a decision that though we appreciate and believe technology to be an important and necessary tool in today’s world, it was just that, a tool; And we did not want our children sacrificing character and relationships in exchange for tech satisfaction. Slowly, we began to ween them off. First, the tablet. Then the TV. And most importantly we started encouraging play. Real play!
So, What Happened?
It took a little while but we eventually separated from screens. Even we, the parents, watch much less TV! We introduced toys, and park play, and sports….and mud! Our kids began to THRIVE! With good food and a more active play time, the washed out look in their face started to disappear, their muscles started to function more easily and their overall demeanor changed. They preferred the personal time with books over TV. They thought going to the park was like a vacation. They discovered new foods they never thought they would like. They learned to play softball and baseball. They painted and drew pictures. Their reading skills skyrocketed.
None of this was a quick fix. It took months. But looking back you can really appreciate the difference. People accuse us of being too strict or too fussy. They think we are too “old school” by not allowing our kids to have phones in first grade. Our doctors tell us every visit, “You should be sure you are limiting screen time and feeding them a healthy meal with fruits and vegetables. Make sure they get plenty of sleep.” My response is always, “We have no tablets, or gaming systems. Our TV consists of the occasional movie or documentary that we enjoy as a family. We serve them home cooked meals (on average) three times a day, with the occasional bowl of cereal or cinnamon rolls and they go to be at 8pm sharp and sleep until 7 the next morning.” I only tell the doctors because I’m entertained by the shock on their face. Either their mouth is agape or they don’t believe me. Ha!
So, call me old school. I’ll take it, because I have seen the positive changes it has made within my entire family. Every family does not function the same way. And that’s ok! But if ever in your life you have considered whether a child can truly be happy without the extra technology…remember this :
Wishing you a great day FULL of blessings from our Lord and Savior!