Confessions of a Mom Who Took the iPad Away
I took the iPad away. But then I gave it right back.
How could I do such a thing? I know the facts. We all do. We've read the news. We mothers know what must be done: that we need to limit technology time for our kids, help them set healthy boundaries, get outside and play the old fashioned way. Have you seen the brain scans that show the effects of technology as a digital drug? They are so important, but also perhaps, they only tell us what we mothers know already, as we watch our own children's eyes glaze over when the glow of a screen pulses somewhere in the room. We talk about the changes in our children when we lean in close and share our fears. We whisper about how we see an epidemic of our kids no longer looking at one another eye to eye, but texting and snapping and tweeting their way through relationships and communication in 140 characters or less, the vapor of a virtual world swallowing up their real life.
And so, armed with information and intention, I decided to limit technology at our house. We have always had rules in place, but I was ready to step up my game. I'd noticed some negative behavior that I guessed was stemming from too much screen time. And so away went the iPad, onto a high shelf... forgotten for a while.
Except that when I got busy and had to meet a deadline...then when I was too tired to mediate an argument...when I was in a rush to get several things done around the house...and that day when I just couldn't muster one more fun outing, I pulled it off the shelf into the eager hands of my kids antsy for a fix. It seems that whenever I want a moment of peace, whenever I seek quick comfort for us all instead of the grueling work of training my kids in conflict resolution, or when I just want to focus on myself for an hour uninterrupted- I am always tempted to turn to an electronic babysitter. Sometimes, I just get tired of saying no. I get exhausted and just give in.
And I wonder, as I confess this, if perhaps I'm not alone?
There is nothing inherently wrong with using technology. My children take many classes online, we all love to play Minecraft as a family, and this year, living away from beloved friends after a move across the country has left me more thankful than ever for all the sweetness FaceTime can bring to our relationships. But, we must be honest about the hard parts as well. We must understand that the battle raging for our children to either flourish in their pursuits and callings or to succumb to their own temptations with screen time are being waged in our will as well.
Moms, we have to go first. We are the gatekeepers.
We are the ones who must be strong and disciplined as we model well for our kids what healthy technology use looks like. We must be ready to stand firm when our children are upset about our rules. We must be willing to let our children be bored, to let them sit long enough without entertainment that they are spurred on by their imagination alone. We must encourage them to get messy in the backyard even if that means that sometimes they drag dirt back into the house. We need to be okay with pulling out pots and pans and flour and old recipe books and unafraid to stare at a sink full of sticky dishes after our children attempt to cook and bake. We need to prepare our walls for macaroni art and wax paper pressed leaves and flowers, to buy watercolor pallets and get used to a blue ring around the drain of the bathroom sink where the paint always seems to stick.
Most of all, we must determine not let our children's use of technology be governed by our own emotional state or overwhelm. Whatever iPad rules we choose to set, lets determine together that the next time we hand technology back into the hands of our kids, it's because we have decided to let them play with intention and purpose. Let's lead them by example, together.
Rooting for you today,
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