July 9, 2012

Am I Doing My Kid a Disservice?


Long ago, before I was ever pregnant with Evie, Chris and I made the decision that our children would not be allowed to play with our iPhones, iPads or computers. Period. And where we have wavered on several other things, we have not budged on this.

We've had friends and family both tell us to get an otter box for our phones and just let Evie go to town. We've very firmly said no. We've dealt with affronted looks when we've told people who've handed Evie their phones, "No. She's not allowed to have those. Please don't give it to her again."

We have our reasons for this, but the main one is that we don't want to become a family immersed in our different lives. We want a life together. We don't want to be the family we see out to dinner, with every member immersed in a different electronic. Mom and Dad on the iPhones and the little ones on the DS or LeapFrog (leap pad?). So we decided long ago that we would do everything in our power to avoid that, even if it meant that I rarely eat a hot meal when we are out because mostly I am busy playing with Evie until her food gets there, then monitoring her. I want us to have lively conversations at the dinner table. I don't want all of us to be sitting around gulping down dinner in silence thinking about Facebook or text messaging. I know that the lack of hot meals now is setting the foundation for this later on, and I really don't mind. Plus, Evie is very well behaved in a restaurant, so there's that.

So I (we) want these things as our family grows. But now I am wondering if in some way we are doing a disservice to Evie by not allowing her to play with these electronics. There is a part of me that is amazed by the one and two year olds that are working these computers and iWhatevers. They can take pictures, find videos and work them better than their parents can.

And it makes me wonder if Evie is going to be the only kid in kindergarten who can't operate an iPhone. Will this stunt her ability to type later on? What about her ability to interact with her peers? Is my desire for her to grow up using her imagination to make up games or go exploring in books going to cause her ridicule later?

I feel like I am doing a good thing, forcing her to use her imagination and using creative play to educate rather than an electronic device, but then these questions in my head! Ugh.

Why can't parenting be easier or at least come with a definitive "how-to" manual?

So what's your opinion? Keep on the tract we are on? Let her use electronics for limited amounts of time? Give her free reign? What works in your house?

I'm not saying we are perfect, and I am not criticizing anyone who lets their kids use these devices (at the dinner table or otherwise). Trust me. I know sometimes you do what you gotta do to have ten minutes to grab a hot meal or just breathe. I've used Go, Deigo! Go! more times than I can count for thirty minutes to sip a glass of wine, get dinner together or fold laundry.
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