Parents worry about their children spending too much time on computer toys and games. I have been observing parents and children when it comes to technology and I must share a few thoughts:
Children need opportunities to run and jump, ride bikes and use their imaginations. Children need to be included in conversations, to take walks, to talk about their experiences and establish trusting relationships with adults. Nothing in the technology age has changed the basic needs of children. I wonder, therefore, why I have observed the following:
Parents walking down the street, checking their phones, ignoring their kids.
Parents and children sitting in restaurants, not talking, each sending text messages.
Children in the park yelling, “Mommy, watch me” but mom does not hear because she is talking on her cell phone.
Dad fighting with his kids over whose turn it is on the computer.
Each person in the family alone in their own room, immersed in separate computers for several hours.
And then parents ask me, “How much time should I let my child be on the computer?” My answer has to be: Did the child run and jump and get fresh air? Was she engaged in creative play? Is he getting time with adults who are fully attentive and delighting in his presence? Does he visit the library and experience the joy of holding a real book in his hands? Did the child complete agreed upon responsibilities? (homework, feeding the dog, cleaning up dishes etc.) Does the parent monitor the games and activities on the computer?
If so, with the time left in the day, it is now up to the child to relax and enjoy himself as he reads, follows directions, writes, and has fun in his generation’s interactive technological age.
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