Welcome back as we continue Part 2 of our Technology and Parenting posts. In our last post, we listed the first three guidelines to avoid tech overwhelm. When we’re able to notice our triggers for choosing tech, make a conscious effort to trade efficiency for connection, and choose to cultivate creativity in our families, we can make healthier connections with our family. Technology can become the tool it was meant to be instead of the dictator we tend to make it.
Here are the last two guidelines, and some ideas to equip you for making small changes in your home.
4. Model a Slower Pace
I don’t want my kids to remember that I was always looking at this little digital brick that was more important than them. So I’m trying to practice putting it away, out of site, when I’m with them. It’s tempting to always have my phone by my side, and even look at it while they’re talking to me. I can multi-task, right? No, it’s not fair to them.
This is the misconception I found that I had to break for myself. Multitasking really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and although women tend to do it more naturally than men, it’s still one more task that our brains are trying figure out at the same time we’re doing other things.
I can imagine how frustrating it is when I ask my kids to repeat themselves because I was reading a text or reading a Facebook discussion while I was “listening” to them. They don’t have to wherewithal (or maybe the guts) to say, “Ugggghhhh, Mom! Put down your phone and listen to me!”
I hear that phrase it in my head, like conviction knocking at the door of my heart. But I would often ignore it, taking for granted that they didn’t ask me, therefore they are fine with the way I’ve been half-listening to them. It’s just not so.
I feel like I’ve been taking advantage of their good graces and innocence. Instead, I need to model slowing down, getting on the floor and listening. What has been a special time for us is reading books together. Some based on homeschool and some just for fun.
We needed to spend quality time building skills that help us to appreciate each other. Listening and laughing, playing games, reading, sharing thoughts and ideas, all build those connective bonds more than separate device time ever could. See our article here on 7 Ways to Enjoy Device-Free Family Time.
When Devices Are a Beautiful Thing
Facetime or Skype – to call my family who live 3,000 miles away and FaceTime with the kids. If that’s as close to face-to-face time my kids get with their parents and technology has afford us that blessing, I’ll take it.
Watching documentaries (together) – I love to expose them to new worlds or help them to visualize a lesson we’ve been studying. My son is a fan of the wild animal hunting videos, or 72 Dangerous Animals. YouTube videos (at my discretion) that teach about our subjects in science, history, and how things work are excellent tools for them if we don’t have access to hands-on opportunities.
Learning to type – this necessary skill is good to expose them to at an early age, but before they learn to type, their handwriting must be mastered. In our last post, I mentioned Andrew Pudewa’s statement that “technology will atrophy the skill it replaces,” and in this case, if they are not working on their handwriting to develop those muscles and memory, typing.
We also recently bought a typewriter. It’s cool, it’s “retro,” and by all accounts a lot slower. But I wanted the kids to experience this stone-aged machine first hand. Not just an antique that made my home look old fashioned (although I do have this fun farmhouse thing going on). It’s functional, and while I have to replace the tape more often than computer ink, the upside is the experience.
Using a typewriter has been one way for us to enjoy the journey, not the destination. We talk about what it was like to communicate this way and experience the anticipation of getting a letter back in the mail.
Practice writing to friends and family, teach your kids how to address an envelope by hand (not many adults can do this anymore… believe me), decorate your letters with stamps and stickers, and make it fun.
A – Attitude
B – Behavior
C – Character
5. Plan Ahead
Let me be clear: rules about technology are not meant to put a damper on the blessings that technology affords us in this modern life. The problem arises when we prioritize technology over people, when so much of our time is spent on a device that the kids opt for something or someone else because all they found with us was a blank stare.
Consider these guidelines for yourself:
- No phones during meal time
- Plug in to charge somewhere else (not bedside)
- Get an alarm clock
- Be specific about online / offline times
- Turn off unnecessary notifications (if I don’t need it to function, I don’t need to know… at least not right now
Download the American Academy of Pediatrics Family Use Media Plan
Let’s be intentional about how we choose to use devices. we can unplug, disconnect, turn off, and set aside these gadgets when they begin to replace our attention to the people around us.
“…do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4