I am acutely aware of the effects of too much screen time for kids. I have read numerous articles as a parent and then reread the same articles as an educator. I cringe when I see families out to dinner, both parents and kids with their faces buried in their phones. I don’t want my girls to be sedentary or have attention problems in school. I am well aware of how much screen time my kids get each day.
However, I also understand that they are growing up in a digital world. They will need to find their way around technological tools that I can’t even fathom yet. I don’t want them to be left behind. So, to that end, they have been allowed to play with some educational apps on our iPad. We have the best of those apps also downloaded on our phones, in case of emergency only. Maddie also loves to play around on my MacBook Pro. She likes to type words in Microsoft Word, and occasionally she will play games on Nick Jr.’s website. Katie’s favorite is a Mickey Mouse storytelling app on the iPad, along with several other apps we downloaded to practice her shapes and colors. Her little finger swipes across the iPad screen with all the confidence in the world. She’s a “digital native”, I guess.
In our house, we spend the majority of our time with the TV off and the iPad put away. I try to limit my own work on the MacBook to when they are in bed (I’m not always so good at this). I really try not to text or check email too often on my phone when I’m with Maddie and Katie (I’m even worse at this). I really do try to be present. I love to fill our time together with books and toys and puzzles and talking, not with technology.
So, I’m not exactly sure what happened the other night. After a long, long day, I was aimlessly flipping through Pinterest on my iPhone, looking for decorating ideas for our new house. I don’t know exactly how much time had passed, but eventually, I glanced up. There sat Maddie on the living room floor, typing away on the MacBook. My husband sat on the couch across from me, face buried in his own iPhone. Katie played with the iPad quietly at his feet.
iFamily – I thought to myself.
I set my phone down on the coffee table next to me. “Anyone want to play Chutes and Ladders?” I asked.