Back in the old days
I never thought I would be saying this to my son, but “when I was your age”, the only piece of technology that was available to me was the television! Nowadays we have TVs, tablets, phones, labtops, smartwatches. Everything you could ever imagine is at your finger tips at all times. As an adult, this is so useful. We can make much more informed decisions on major life events. But, what is this doing to our kids, and should I push for a tech free home?
I read an article recently that major silicon valley executives are raising their kids in a tech free home. Should we be concerned that the folks creating this tech, are shielding it from their own families?
An entirely different world built on tech
We have yet to see an entire generation grow up on technology. I had my first cell phone in high school. Smartphones came out when I was in college. The first generation of kids to grow up with disposable technology are teenagers. How has having unlimited access to the world and social media effected their adoption to society as we know it?
Change can certainly be good. However, how are teens communicating face to face? Are they able to handle conflict and overcome challenges effectively? How has cyber bullying effected teens when they grow up and enter the real world? Societal issues are obviously a major cause for concern to push for a tech free home. But what about the health benefits of being plugged into a screen for a long period of time?
Major health concerns
The potential societal and behavioral concerns are certainly enough for me to pull the plug on tech. However, it doesn’t stop there. Children these days are extremely unhealthy, all with ties back to their tech usage at home. I did some diving into some key facts and summarized them below:
- Obesity rates have risen drastically since 1980. The technology is preventing kids from living active lifestyles.
- The blue light on screens cause headaches, eye strain, and irritated eyes in children.
- The blue light also suppresses melatonin which effects children’s sleep cycles. Lack of sleep prevents our children from developing properly.
So, I am beginning to realize that a tech free home will help my child adapt better in social situations, and help them be a healthier individual overall. One of the most surprising stats I read was babies under 18 months should not have access to any screen time (besides video chatting).
How and what to limit
Finally, putting this all together I realize that I am going to push for a tech free home. I wanted to take tech free a bit further as well, and think about the best way for my child to develop. I have learned that “active toys make passive kids, and passive toys make active kids”. That means that toys that make noise and blink bright lights, are letting your child sit back and be entertained. If your child plays with blocks, cups, and balls, they have to use their imagination and learn to entertain/play with themselves.
My goal is to have my child use his mind and imagination as much as possible. I am not limiting all “active toys”, but I give him more options to play with “passive toys”. I notice my son can entertain himself for quite a while with simply blocks.
So, what’s the plan
Here is a breakdown of what I decided to do to strive for as much of a tech free home as I can.
- Virtually no screen time on any device. This includes anything on YouTube, short or long videos. The only exception has been the morning news for a few minutes when we wake up in the morning. I notice that if my son does see a TV he is in a trance like state that we have to snap him out of!
- Passive toys are offered first. I offer him a handful of passive toys, and one active toy. I have noticed he prefers the toys he has to use his mind and imagination with, over ones that direct his play. This is great because he can entertain himself. (Besides no screen time, this is huge for maintaining a tech free home.)
- Video chatting is allowed. As often as our family wants to talk! He absolutely loves the interaction.
- Floor time. I am on the floor with him playing for a majority of the day. We are constantly crawling and “chasing” one another, or he is cruising from furniture to furniture. We are always moving and playing.
- Getting out. We try and leave at least once a day. Whether we go for a long walk and hit a park, or drive to a mall if it’s cold. We people watch and observe everything around us.
Thinking about the future
My son is almost a year old, and our routine has been great for him. He is so aware, observant, and self sufficient. I am constantly thinking about the future and how my tech free home can remain in tact. I know as he gets older, we will have to introduce things to him. My hope is that we built a foundation on being plugged into the “real world”, and technology is a secondary item.
How about you? How do you manage technology in your home?
If you liked this article, read my letter to my son as we near his first birthday.