Sometimes I think I’m competing with my daughter’s electronic devices for her attention. She refuses to turn off her cell phone, iPad or laptop, making it almost impossible for us to sit and talk or do anything really. Why am I in this constant struggle? is she afraid she will miss something that could be that important? Are these devices more important than spending time with her mother?
It is hard to understand this generation’s infatuation with screen-time, given that I came up on typewriters, house phones, pay phones, and playing outside until the streetlights came on! This generation would rather sit in the house glued to their devices, and I worry that means some of them are not experiencing childhood as it should be. It can be frustrating that technology appears to have so much sway on my daughter. We started her off with a kindle, then an iPad then she got her first cell phone at the age of 10 and l don’t believe it has left her side ever since day one.
Whenever I get frustrated about my daughter’s attachment to her devices, I try to remember that I can’t shield her from the tools that are taking over the world. I can, however, teach and equip her to use the devices properly. In fact, having a daughter has pushed me to learn more about technology, so that I can be on top of what she is doing.
It’s not just the devices, though. She just recently asked me about joining Facebook and Twitter, and I nearly fell out the chair. My answer was “no,: which was an easy choice: she is only twelve-years-old, and Facebook and Twitter both require their users to be at least thirteen. I think I will wait even longer.
Technology is changing the way we relate to one another; more texting and emails can create connections, but face-to-face conversation is still important, and I worry that my daughter and her generation think that digital interaction is a replacement for what happens in the real world.
Technology has its uses. Most schools are using laptops for assignments, so she does need to be able to log on and see what is due, keep up with her grades, and learn how to use the Internet for research. Still, studies show that excessive electronic device use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, and even sleeping disorders. At the very least, I worry that if I don’t take the phone away at night, she would probably lose sleep just from playing games.
For mine and my daughter’s peace of mind, I’m focused on ensuring that she has other outlets for communication and community that don’t involve screens. Keeping her busy with extracurricular activities is an important distraction from her devices. I do realize she is at a point in her life where social media is VERY important, but I have to explain to her there is a BIGGER picture, and how unsuccessful she may end up if she prioritizes technology over academics. Getting angry over the use of technology is not the answer; simply remind your child that you want to see them succeed, and show them all of the other skills and qualities that lead to success that don’t involve an iPhone!