How Much is Too Much and Who Decides?

Have you seen this article, Parenting as a Gen Xer: We're the first generation of parents in the age of iEverything? It's just too good not to share. Alison Slater Tate writes that we are the last generation that had a technology free childhood and we're the first generation to raise children that have never known anything other than a world with Google at their fingertips and screens galore. So true! No wonder I struggle to find balance and parenting direction in this area.


It seems everywhere I look, I'm pressured to limit screen time, cautioned to keep my kids from their phones, or told I'm potentially failing as a parent if I use the Internet too much in front of them. 

On the other hand, I'm told my kids need to stay up to date on technology and that I need to provide experience on computers. Even our local elementary school includes a lot of technology in the classroom. It's a natural part of the environment they're growing up in.

My youngest FaceTiming before school.

Tate's article also points out that we're the generation that has the task of bridging the technology gap between our baby boomer parents and our kids. Many grandparents question why their grandchildren are often connected to a screen. Why are they on it so much? Are they addicted? Many grandchildren can't understand how their grandparents live without wifi and smart phones. How can they stand it? Aren't they bored? Tate admits that...

When it comes to parenting, I find this middle place extremely uncomfortable, because I know what childhood and adolescence were like before the Internet, and my parenting models all came from that era.

I agree with Tate. I can understand the perspectives of both my parents and my children when it comes to technology. Sometimes I want to get rid of all of it and sometimes I find myself caught up in the hype of the new iphone! Twitter, Instagram and FaceTime may always feel a little stilted to me, but they're as natural as breathing for my kids.

My children are growing up communicating differently than I did and with much more access to information and the world around them. Unless I move them to a deserted island, I'll continue to have to walk the the fine line, or more realistically the wavy line, trying to figure out how much is too much. In the end, my goal is to teach my kids to use the internet and social media responsibly. 

It was comforting to me to read Tate's concluding words...

The truth is, my generation of parents are pioneers here, like it or not. We’re the last of the Mohicans. We can try as hard as we want to push back and to carve space into our children’s lives for treehouses and puzzles and Waldorf-style dolls, but in the end, our children will grow up with the whole world at their fingertips, courtesy of a touch screen, and they will have to learn how to find the balance between their cyber and real worlds. It is scary. I don’t think I even believe there is a “right way” to parent with technology. But acknowledging that what we are doing is unprecedented – that no study yet knows exactly what this iChildhood will look like when our children are full grown people – feels like an exhale of sorts.

How about you? Have you struggled finding a balance with your kids and technology? Do you feel torn in different directions like I do?



26 comments:

  1. Interesting thoughts! My little one is only a year old now, but I can definitely tell we already need to be thinking for when he is older and decide what technology he will be allowed to use. Thank you for the thought provoking post!

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  2. Great post, Marie!
    My husband and I talk about how incredible it is that technology has made its way into so many facets of "life." We limit the time our little ones spend playing games on our our phones and tablets. It's important to us that our kids know how to function/communicate at home, in restaurants, outdoors with their family and friends without technology. I feel sad when I see kids sitting on phones/tablets - playing tech games & texting, instead of running/joking/laughing and playing with their siblings/friends outside.
    Great article . . . So happy you shared. Going to pass it on to a few friends to read too.
    Have a great day!
    Suzanne

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    1. Glad you can use it, Suzanne! We have to remind our kids of the appropriate time to be on their devices, too. It's a work in progress! ;)

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  3. Thanks for sharing the article - very interesting stuff. It's so hard to find the balance - and I think it's different for every family. This is one of the reasons we have really encouraged our boys to be active in sports - they can't do it with a phone in their hand - it's still old school :)!

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    1. Great point, Lana! Sports are a great way to get them active and outside. :)

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  4. It's hard to figure out what's right but I'm glad you shared this. I hate that their world is so different than ours but there's no stopping it. And I sure do love my mac.. ;)

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    1. Haha! I don't want to give up any of my screens, either!

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  5. Thanks for sharing this Marie - fabulous!

    I always feel like I'm walking a fine line. Especially as a homeschooling mom, I wonder if I'm incorporating too much or too little technology, what is ideal? I don't know if anyone has the answer to this. Much approach is to use technology as a learning/communication tool rather than for entertainment purposes. I'm going with my gut...

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely weekend,
    xoxo

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    1. I agree that no one really knows. I'm always going back and forth in my opinions depending on what others are doing. This article really made me see that everyone is just trying to figure it out. Plus, technology is always changing and new social media being created, so that makes any decisions I make temporary ones! :)

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  6. Technology is thrown in our face constantly. I definitely have already started limiting access to some things with my preschoolers. I want them to be able to use tablets and computers but also want them to be active children. Interesting post! Would love if you linked up with us at Mommy Needs at Timeout Thursday. We party until Saturday at 8pm EST this week! See you there!
    Lauren
    Twin Tested, Pin Approved
    http://twintestedpinapproved.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/mommy-needs-a-timeout-thursday-4-happy-halloween/

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    1. Thanks, Lauren! It's a balancing act that starts early, that's for sure!

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  7. A great post on an interesting topic! My screen time has increased dramatically since I began blogging. I think I have gained a new appreciation of the need to find a balance!

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    1. Me too, Susan! It's hard to blog without using a screen though! :)

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  8. Sometimes we watch the show The Goldbergs with our kids, and it can generate some interesting discussions about he way life was so different for our generation as kids and teenagers. Our kids don't know any different. I always struggle to find a balance with technology, and I just hope my kids will learn how to do that from my example.

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  9. What a great post! This is exactly how I feel like and we struggle with it every day.
    My husband doesn't want our daughter to be any around any technology but I think that's impossible.
    I'm also trying to find the balance and middle ground. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one struggling with this.

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  10. One of the kids asked why I can be on the computer all day and she can't, and another one wants her own Instagram, but she's only in grade school. It's hard. But on the plus side, my teens help with the tech side of blogging and social media! :)

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  11. This is great food for thought. I struggle with balancing screen time with 'real' play time, but I never considered it from the point of view that we're the first ones having to figure this out for our kids. It's definitely a different world, but it's certainly not all bad. I love being able to say, "Let's Google it!" when my kids ask me a question that I don't know the answer to ;)

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  12. This was a great response to the original article. I did read it and related to everything! As a high school teacher I have to be extra tech savvy and up to date with new technology so I can stay ahead of the game which makes it even harder for me to disconnect. I guess we all just have to learn how to manage it like our parents did when TV first came out!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

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  13. Ironically I have a blog post similar to this one going live tomorrow. I've also talked about technology verses in person contact a couple of times too in other posts.

    This is a tough thing to find balance on. I know I struggle with it since I feel like being on a computer is my job now. I loved this.

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  14. This is a tricky issue. Our daughter is only 1, but we've already begun the discussions about this subject. I think we're hoping to follow what we try to do with our food - experience variety. The healthiest food on the planet is no good if that's all you eat, so we try to eat lots of different healthy things. If we have enough different activities that we're always engaged in (like theme nights: movie night, art night, game night, outdoor fun night, etc.), then maybe technology can just be one other choice to make.

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  15. Technology is such a blessing and a curse! Thanks for linking up at mommy needs a time out Thursdays!

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  16. This is fabulous! I am always struggling on how much is too much technology. I want my children to understand and use it, but I have had to put rules down. Not during dunner time (ever), not during special family time, go to bed at a normal time and put the electronic apparatus away before you do so that it's beeps and notifications don't wake you up. It's all a learning process for me and I think it will continue to be so as I raise my children.

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  17. Great post and very thought-provoking. It can be so tricky finding the middle ground here - I try and limit screen time with my 3 year old but she knows how to use some of the technology we have around the house better than I do already! I never thought of it as our generation being the last generation to have a technology free childhood and the first having to parent in the world of iEverything. I try and ensure my girls have plenty of outdoor time, time for crafts and imaginative play but it is constantly having to try and find that balance against the lure of technology.

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  18. This is very interesting. Technology has been causing some friction in our house for a while.My girls are 7 and 2, the eldest would spend all day long on the Ipad or our phones, playing games, taking photos and sending texts to other family members. Along with the fact both my husband and I work for ourselves, meaning we often have to be available and connected, we find it sometimes difficult to juggle what is an appropriate amount of screen time.
    So, we have a few rules. Not computers/phones at the table, ever. No screen time when someone is talking to you. No sort of technology during evening wind down time.
    My 7 yr old has been asking when she'll be allowed her own phone - not for quite a long time!
    Great post! Xx

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  19. That must be hard to be right in the middle of it. I am just a little younger but still remember when there was no cell phones but have lived most my life with computers and google at my fingers tips in schools it wasn't long till it exploded while I was in highschool so I caught up quick. My parents are constantly telling me I am on it too much. I do try to limit my kids and hope they play outside as much as they learn on the ipad or computer. I do monitor them closely and only educational things but they are young it won't be long where I am out of it and they have their own phones. Eek that scares me. lol I hope that time is very far from now. lol Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

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