iFamily

See More Slice of Life Writing over at Two Writing Teachers

See More Slice of Life Writing over at Two Writing Teachers

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.

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17 thoughts on “iFamily

  1. Great finish. I too struggle with this. My wife and I have much different habits. I got my iPhone last St. Patrick’s Day and there was a short honeymoon period, but I don’t do as much with it as I was. That said, it seems like there’s always something I have to get done before I can play with my daughter when I get home. I have a tough time with that. Part of it is my effort at avoiding jumping from teaching seniors to playing with a three year-old in the span of 10 minutes, as I live a mile from school, but part of it is certainly that it’s convenient and a distraction. At any rate, It’s going to be something to look out for.

  2. I think this is common place in many families. We just have to remember to have digital free times and zones and stick to it, but as you have said we are not all very good at this. I can relate totally having 2 teenagers at uni.

  3. I, too, love your last line. I’m the mom of two college aged kids, and it makes me so, so, so sad when I see people out with their kids, even on walks in the park and they have their phones out, texting or doing whatever, while their kids basically entertain themselves. I also recently heard about a study that says that the average kindergarten’s sentence length has decreased from 6.9 to 3.9 words, in the last ten years! Scary stuff!

  4. I hear you Dana. I’m usually really good at keeping the laptop, iPad, and phone out of sight around my girls. But on occasion it happens. (Yesterday, I was told by my daughter to put the phone away.) I loved your “iFamily” — now, just saying that Apple may want to snag this little slice of life and create a picture perfect iFamily commercial! We are so connected, yet we are so connected. It’s about iBalance, especially for your littlest digital natives. I thought your suggestion at the end was perfect, and please tell me everyone was up for playing?!?

    • My daughter has also emphatically ordered me to put my phone down before…on it for work email at the time though. I like the “i”dea about “i”Balance.

  5. I can’t even think about the times this month that I headed to the computer to blog instead of having a conversation with my husband. March ends up being a rather unbalanced month for me. Looking forward to the end of March Madness and more real conversations.

  6. The theme of balance seems to be pervasive this morning…..perhaps that is because it is SOL time – day 25 – and our balance is shifted towards reading and writing.

  7. Yes this is so hard. Sometimes it’s ok though. Blake learns a lot from my tablet with the educational apps but I only let him use it for a few minutes a day. Sometimes he watches mickey mouse clubhouse. It’s ok every once in a while.

  8. This is the age of instant gratification. There are just two of us here, my wife and me. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to put the electronics away and just enjoy conversation with each other.

  9. I love the title. I also made a decision to keep my phone and ipad put away till Ava goes to bed. Of course it doesn’t always happen. But we try. It’s not good when she already knows who Siri is.

  10. Dana,
    We all seem to retreat to our devices for time to enjoy what we like. We’re “i”ing together. I think it’s ok sometimes after a long day, for us to do the things we like as long as we keep it in perspective. I know this is a challenge and like your family, we have the same experience (the 40 somethings, the 9 year old and the 3 year old)…like Michelle, I wondered if you guys played the game…

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