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life & design

Modeling for our Children in a Technology Driven World

I’ve been thinking a lot about technology and how it influences our life as a family. We don’t watch TV, other than the occasional sports game or movie. I’m rather proud of that – no TV blaring after school, nothing saturday mornings or the like. But, on the other hand, we have our computers and iphones and the kids have itouches, and boy! do we use those.

The kids received itouches for Christmas from their Grandfather. They had been expressing a lot of interest in listening to music. Sandy and I thought an itouch would be perfect for their ability to develop their own music tastes and have control over what they listened to, and then, great for games when we traveled. We didn’t intend for or expect that the kids would use them regularly. I figured that if I let them go to town with them over Christmas Break, the kids’ interest would wane and the itouches would go the way of a myriad of other games and toys in their lives. Okay, I was wrong.

With the ability to download new games, they were never bored with their little machines. We called them glow faces and begged them to stop to no avail. In fact, they started saying, “I just need to check in on my town really quickly.” or “I just need to collect my coins. It will be fast.” or “I HAVE to feed my panda mom, or he’ll get super sad and lonely.” hmmmm. As a result, Sandy and I limited their itouch usage to two hours on the weekend. They had to earn that time through excellent behavior during the week.

This all seemed great, until Sandy started to call me glow-face. Me? Yeah You! the one with her phone in her face ALL the time. And, it’s true. I can justify it by saying I need to be tweeting, or instagramming to keep up my social network for the blog. I can explain it by saying I need to be aware when I get an important email, so I can respond immediately. I’m supposed to be “available” for my regular work any time. I NEED to know if I’ve been emailed, called, tweeted about, linked to, etc, etc. don’t I??
Okay then, let me pay attention to how I use my phone. Yes, it spends the night on my bedside table. Yes, I check it in the morning before I get out of bed. Yes, I look at it multiple times through breakfast as I get the kids ready for school. Yes, I bring it in the car with me. Yes, I check at stoplights. Yes, I listen to an audio book on my way home. Yes, I check it while I clean up the kitchen. Well, no i don’t check it while I’m at the computer working, but it’s with me, charging. Yes, I bring it down to lunch so I can check it while I eat. Yes, I bring it with me on my run. Yes, I use it to take Instagrams. Yes, I bring it back upstairs to my office while I work or craft or make or blog. Yes, I check it when I sneak downstairs to have snack with the kids. Yes, I’m listening to podcasts while I fold laundry. Yes, I bring it with me while dinner gets made. No, I DON’T bring it to the dinner table (yay me!). Yes, sometimes its in my pocket as I snuggle good night or read with the kiddos. Yes, it’s next to me as I catch up on Sandy’s day. And, yes, when I go to bed, it’s with me then, too. I check missed tweets, instagrams, blog stats, links and the like – or just play a game of Sodoku. I get a good night to Sandy in, and then, I turn on my latest audio book and play it till I’m almost asleep. At which point, that dear little phone goes to rest for its own short night’s sleep on my bedside table. Next morning, repeat!

EEEEE GADS!!!! this is bad. Please don’t judge. In fact, I don’t think I realized it was so bad until I just wrote it all out like that. In addition, if phones really do cause cancer, I’m in deep trouble. Oh my, something has got to change. If I don’t think my kids see my interaction with my phone and ingrain that behavior into their own psyche, I am fooling myself. I would be horrified if my kids spent their day like that (goodness knows they will want to when they figure out texting with teenage friends). I remember, I was one of the last of my friends to even get a cell phone!

Now, I’m not putting down my parenting skills too much. I do fill my kids’ lives with wonderful things– time outdoors, time with friends, time to make, time to bake, time to read, time for chores and time to laugh. Yet, I do it all with that darn phone in my hand. I think its time for a change. What if I didn’t bring it with me everywhere? What if I checked it only at specific times? What if I didn’t pick it up in the morning until 9:15 am – would that be so bad? What if I put it away at lunch, at 5:00pm? What would I really miss, after all?

As if she was reading my mind, my mother sent me this npr article this morning on mindfulness. It’s a great article to read and makes me even more aware of the importance of teaching our kids to disconnect. And, yes, how, more than ever, it is important for ME to do it, too. In fact, I think I might lock my phone in a drawer until 9:15am Monday morning. Do you think I can do it? I’m gonna try! Hope you have a very technology free weekend!

xoxo anne

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