GAME ON! — My Battle of Wills with Kids & Technology
Being a parent is the most challenging and rewarding of roles to fulfill. Being a single parent, is an added challenge. Being a single parent to young, impressionable children who are being raised in the ever-increasing culture of technology, is by far one of my greatest parental peeves.
As a once-upon-a-child myself, I am well-versed in the “But EVERYONE has one except me,” tactic. But when I am confronted by my 8.5 and 7-year old children echoing these same age-old sentiments to me — it’s sadly not an embellishment nor a stretch from the truth.
I have become the inflexible and uncool Mum whose children do not have one individual device they can each call their own — no cell phone, no iPad, no computer — and yet all I hear each day upon school drop-off and school pick-up, is how ALL their friends have not only one of these devices — they have access to multiple ones, which they can call their own. I know this to be true; as my children are often invited to other’s homes for play-dates and birthday parties. And what is the popular gift to purchase your child, if as a parent it is your primary concern to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ or to placate your child? And how easy is it to give in, especially in age where parents are chomping at the bit to keep up with their own never-ending workloads, emails, deadlines and to-do lists? Particularly as a single-parent, it has been very tempting for me to cave to this ongoing bone of contention and this relentless request of my children. Let’s face it — my life would be an awful lot easier and quieter without the daily fight.
Do my children receive access to screen time? Yes, they do, albeit off my computer, and only for incrementally timed and shared allocations between the two of them. Outside of that, and at least for now and the foreseeable future, that and their own Leap Frog devices, which I refer to as their L-Pads, is it! Like it or not, that is the way it is in my home.
I have raised my children to be book-readers and avid outdoor enthusiasts, which they genuinely are, and as a family we continue to be. Each time I am thrown under the bus by my children as the ‘not-fair Mum,’ I always remind them about the have-nots of society. I remind them that not ALL their classmates have an in-ground swimming pool, in which to invite their friends over at random, or to organize birthday and end of the school year pool parties. I remind them that they are fortunate to have the opportunity to create actual bonding experiences with their closest of friends, that their time together in the pool is in fact interactive and positively memorable.
More importantly, I remind them that there is a plethora of children whose most basic of needs are not only not being met — but that in many a case — are non-existent, such as food, housing, adequate drinking water, clothing, schooling, let alone having toys or books or pools or technological devices accessible to their finger-tips.
I remind them of the importance of practicing daily gratitude and mindfulness for all that they are blessed and fortunate to have, and consistently remind them to instead focus their sights, attentions and energies on that reality, as well as on the fact that we have each other, we have our health, we have love, we have much. We have the things that money cannot buy, which is of more relevance and significance than anything that can be plugged into a electrical socket. And, although the on-going battle has not disappeared, at least my children are consistently being ‘programmed’ by Mummy and with the essence of what it is to take independent and critical thinking — on their own — to the next level. Game On! #LivingFearlessly