Yesterday's post made me think about the role of technology in
children's lives -- b/c when I referred to my son getting a
"privilege," you can bet that privilege is going to involve something
that requires batteries.
It was bad enough when parents only had
television to contend with; now we have computers, Nintendos, Wiis, and
whatever else is out there that I don't want to know about. The role of
technology in our lives as parents is a serious one, not only b/c of
the effect it has on children but b/c of the amount of conflict that
inevitably ensues. Some parents' response to this is not to have any
television or computer-like devices in their homes at all. Then there
are parents who pay no attention to how much technology their children
are exposed to, which may omit conflicts but produces a certain type of
kid -- and it isn't pretty.
Most of us fall somewhere in the
middle. We recognize TV and computers are part of life, but we know
instinctively that they shouldn't take over our lives. Children don't
agree, of course; thus the conflict in the home.
the number of hours the TV is on in the average home in America is 6
hours and 47 minutes. So for almost seven hours a day children
experience a life of background noise, which doesn't include the number
of minutes they spend punching buttons mindlessly on some hand-held
device. The end result of all this mind-numbing stimulation doesn't
require a special degree or comprehensive study. Every parent knows
what the result is: poor attention spans, endless arguments about what
to do when there's nothing to "turn on," and loss of creativity and
We're all susceptible to the negative effects of
technology, and we're all responsible. Parents who choose to live with
technology must have set rules they adhere to every day, rules that
kids become used to and thus don't complain about. And even with the
rules there'll be conflict. After all, we have to contend with rainy
days, wintertime, sickness, and the days when we just don't want to be
a parent. All that said, there is ONE way to avoid conflict in the home
with respect to technology: live without it yourself. Because if you're
a big TV watcher, they will be too.
I'm not suggesting we have
to turn the television off completely in order to be good parents. But
if you want your children to learn how to live without TV, you have to
live this way yourself. If you want them to read more, let them see you
reading. (If you want them to eat better, let them see you cooking.)
Children will respond to the environment their parents create. If you
restrict most of your own TV-viewing until after the kids go to bed,
children will naturally grow up learning how to live a largely TV-free
life. And this will serve them well for years to come.
Click here to read more from Suzanne Venker.
OPPOSING VIEWS ASKS: How much TV do you let your children watch?
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