Children and Technology: How much is TOO much?

4 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

The other night we watched a show about how much the world is depending on technology today.

One of their examples were airplane pilots vs. the computers of auto pilot features. It said that on an average flight from Denver to London, the pilot has his hands on the controls for maybe three minutes. The rest is auto-pilot and up to the computers. Isn't that scary to think about? I would have a hard time trusting a pilot I didn't know personally to fly me, let alone trusting a computer to fly me across the world.

 There has also been recent plane crash landings where the computers didn't land the plane correctly. Now, was it really the computers fault or should the pilot have been actually landing the plane manually?

That's the problem. The pilots weren't even trained to do so, because the computers already knew how to land the plane.  Shouldn't the pilots know how to....well, fly the plane?

After watching this, it got me thinking. Yes computers and technology are a really great thing in today's world. They really do make today's world a more technologically advanced, easier world. Yet, sometimes people depend too much on them. Sometimes all these 'shortcuts' aren't really needed at all.

We are all guilty.

Whether it be your computer, iPad, TV, smart phone, navigational systems or gaming systems.... I think we are all addicted to the technology that our world has to offer.

And it's hard to give it up. Really, it is.

Checking facebook every hour has became too convenient. Watching your favorite TV show by searching on your smart TV to skip the commercials.  Typing an address into your dashboard's navigational system to be told how to get somewhere- Handy? Yes. Necessary? Not really.

I remember my brother and I being outside all the time when we were growing up. Yes, we watched TV. Not all day though. We didn't play games on the computer we didn't have, and we weren't staring at the hand held devices we didn't have either. We were prepping our tree forts for our pretend game of 'Cowboys and Indians'. We were jumping our bikes off of our handmade dirt ramps, seeing who could jump higher. We were out helping our Dad check the cattle. We helped with chores outside and inside our home as well.

Were we happy? Of course.  We didn't even know what an iPad was back then.  Yet, we were having a blast. Without technology. I want my kids to grow up the same way. Even though times have changes quite a bit, we can still monitor our children's use of technology.

Sounds weird but I wish we all could go back to the old days of covered wagons and no electricity for a day. Yes, I realize it would be complete chaos. But that's because everyone is so dependant on technology today. Back then they made it just fine going without it. They interacted with each other instead of their devices.

The other day I received a hand written thank you note from my grandmother in the mail. It made my whole day. I was smiling ear to ear while reading it. I pictured her taking time out of her busy day to write me a special letter. It also made me realize that when I receive a text from someone, usually I just robotically read it, respond, and go on with my day, no emotion from that text what-so-ever.

Don't get me wrong, I do text. I feel weird talking on the phone sometimes. If I'm busy, a quick text is easier than calling.  So, yes, I'm guilty. But sometimes there are conversations that would be much better in person, or like before, a hand written letter that will make you feel that emotion.

Here's another thing. Technology is making parenting way too easy. Easy, yet unnecessary. For example, you go to the store and your child starts throwing a major tantrum. You hand her your smart phone and they instantly stop crying and zip through your lock screen, slide through your apps and find their favorite game. Tantrum over. Problem solved.


Sadly, yes. Guilty again. Yes, today's technology makes our children instantly happy. It's at their fingertips whenever they want it. Do they need it? No!

It's such an easy way for parents to keep their kids happy and quiet. Technology is becoming our children's babysitter almost. But in reality, kids will be loud, they will have meltdowns. We need to know how to deal with them. Kind of like the pilots on the airplanes who weren't trained- because the computers already knew how to do it.

Not only on phones, but all these new gaming systems. Some of these kid's parents have no idea what their little minds are seeing on these. I've seen some kids playing crazy violent games on their handheld gaming system, with the parents right in the next room. They have no idea what their child is doing! And they wonder why their kids have night mares, or act like a mad man, hitting others or cursing.  Honestly, I blame some of these games and technology for violence in schools in today's world. Sad, but true. Kids know how to play a computer game better today than play outside or have a conversation with their friend at school. There has to be some sort of better filter, and it has to start with the parents.

Some of you may remember when I purposely put myself into a 'blogging rut' last month. Part of that was because of this whole technology thing. Even as adults, we spend way too much time plugged in to technology. Sometimes as a blogger it can be hard to 'un-plug', with so much writing and editing and promoting to do. But there are many technological things that are unnecessary even as a blogger.

Example: Facebook. I do believe Facebook can be good for keeping up with family or friends who live hundreds of miles away from you. But if they live in your same town, and they are truly your friend, why not stop by and visit with them?  Why do we need to see what Neighbor Joe (who you haven't had a conversation with in four years) is doing today? Who cares? We have let technology and social media make us care about other people's personal lives that have nothing to do with our own. All that time we spend on Facebook looking at what other people are up to is taking away from our own families. Instead of looking at pictures of Bertha's newly remodeled bathroom that she shared on Facebook, why don't we pay attention to our own things? 

I recently read an amazing book about wasting time and wanting to feel productive. I have a pet peeve of seeing people complain on social media about not having enough time in the world to get things done, yet they are sitting there wasting time complaining. It doesn't make sense. And it has been proven that Facebook can affect your mood. Seeing all of your friends getting engaged when you aren't, or seeing that person that you are so jealous of getting another bonus at work. If you wouldn't be on Facebook, would you even have a reason to be jealous of them? No, because you wouldn't even know or be wasting your time on it. Besides that, when you share a new status or picture everyday about what your family is doing, or where you're going, it's not only a safety issue, but really why do you want everyone else to see YOUR life?

Again, I have been guilty. But, some of you may have noticed that I've been off of Facebook for awhile recently. I still use it for my blog's page but other than that, I have better things to be doing.

Also, I'm still in the process of 'un-friending' tons of people. This is the theory I'm trying to apply: if I would feel uncomfortable sitting down at dinner and keeping a conversation going with that person, I don't need to be 'friends' with them on Facebook. Sorry. But it's true. Make time for those that matter.

Basically, I just think we need to whoa up with all the technology and our kids. As they get older, it might be a tool used in their career, but if they are young enough to be making mud pies, exploring, or coloring  a new drawing on a real piece of paper, they are young enough to not use the technology. I have also found that when we are outside playing as a family, with no technology, we are the happiest. The girls laugh loudly with excitement when they are chasing Daddy through the house, not playing some game.

Part of my new year goals is to 'un-plug'. So we are working on this as a family. The only way I'm writing such a long post right now is because Erin is napping and Charlie is playing with Daddy outside.

I want to be able to look back on the years of my kiddos being kiddos, making memories of making messes in the kitchen or playing outside. I also want our kids to grow up and being able to look back on those memories as well. And if we spend too much of that precious time giving our attention to an inanimate object, it will be wasted. Be cautious of where your attention is going, as well as your children's.

Do you limit your child's device usage? How much is too much for you? Share your tips on keeping your child monitored while 'plugged in'.