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We are featuring a guest post by Kylie Marks about how technology affects our children’s relationship with the outdoors. Kylie is a young, stay-at-home mom to three beautiful children. During the spare time she rarely has, she writes for her blog, Wobble Bey Bee, and runs her jewelry business, Precious Threads Creations. She enjoys spending time with her family and has a passion for writing about anything related to parenting, especially when it comes to the funny things her children say. Please visit her blog and Facebook page to learn more.
Please note: This is an abbreviated version of her original article Why I Will Not Let Technology Raise My Children.
Sometimes I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. What I mean by this is that the rock is the way I grew up and the hard place is my children’s generation of technology.
I am part of the first generation to experience the arrival of hard-core technology. I always knew technology existed, but for the majority of the first half of my life, it wasn’t a big deal. My family didn’t have cell phones until right before I went to high school. We had one computer and it took five minutes to connect to the internet. I didn’t spend much time on it and my cell phone did one thing…called people.
The Rise Of Technology
But then 2007 happened and the iPhone was released. This one event launched technology into a whole new realm. We didn’t even know what hit us. We went from having to find ways to occupy ourselves (you know, by interacting with actual people and being outside), to never looking up again. Everything we wanted was inside that little handheld device and it took over the world with a vengeance.
Humans have single-handedly created technology that can do anything imaginable–technology that has pushed the world to extraordinary lengths, while pushing humankind backwards. Don’t get me wrong, I love my computer and my cell phone and my TV, but I’m also smart enough to realize that it is physically making me, and everyone else I know, digress. Look around you, we can’t do anything without checking our Facebook account first. There are no personal interactions and nobody leaves their house anymore. I am friends with 400 people I never talk to and whose lives I seem to think I can judge based on the pictures they post.
What About Our Children?
It makes me cringe every time I think about how dependent I am on technology. It also makes me realize how much I do not want all this technology influencing my children this early in their lives. I know there will come a time in their lives when technology will rule them. It’s inevitable because it is all they will ever know. But until they are old enough to accept that responsibility, I will be intervening. There will be extreme limitations on their use of technology while they are children and I am not doing that to be mean or selfish. I am doing it to preserve their childhood, to show them and give them everything the world has to offer outside of the little boxes everybody relies so heavily on.
They are little and I want them to experience the joys of life…real life. I am limiting technology because I want them to:
Play in the mud,
Run in the rain,
Jump in puddles,
Play chase, hopscotch and freeze tag,
Go hiking, fishing, and camping,
Swim in lakes, ponds and streams,
Search for bugs,
Learn to garden,
Learn about nature,
Dig in the dirt.
I want them to live–truly live–during a time in their lives when everything is still magical and amazing. I want them to respect the world around them and realize that it takes a lot of hard work and effort to sustain life, and that technology is not the answer for everything. I want them to enjoy what really matters and not live in some virtual realty because it was easier for me to hand them a phone and make them be quiet.
I have my moments when everything is hectic and crazy and I just need my children to sit down quietly for a few minutes. During those times I have done what most parents do and turn on the TV or hand them a cell phone so they can play games and occupy themselves. However, when it is time to turn off that device my kids throw a tantrum and I wonder if it was worth it.
Do Our Children Really Need This Much Technology?
They do not need these technologies when they are this young. They don’t understand what they are doing, but they do know they would rather sit all day playing electronic games instead of running around outside. That is so unacceptable to me. There will be plenty of time in their lives to obsess over technology. Right now I need them to obsess over animals and plants and people…the type of people who require human interaction.
We are raising a generation that will grow up and take over where we leave off. I hope and pray that we are instilling within them a strong foundation. Technology will always be there. They need to learn to love and respect the natural things around them so they can be the generation that fixes things instead of tearing them apart.
Moderation is key, yet society seems to have forgotten that. I have a duty to protect my children from things that I think will affect them negatively. I strongly believe technology is problematic at this point in their lives; therefore, I will continue to limit it until I feel they are ready to take on that burden.
How do you balance technology and outdoor play in your family?