Is Technology Helping Us Parent Better?
You LimitWe fondly remember the “good ole days” before cell phones and other technological advancements began vying for our time and attention. But some advances in technology are meant to make our lives more simple. Babies can now be monitored without leaving the couch or bed via a live camera poised directly over their crib. Screen time can be limited with apps that allow parents to program when and for how long kids can use their devices. Are these advances in technology helping us parent better or are they making us more dependent on them? Here’s our take.
Technology certainly has its merits. When kids are too young to have a cell phone but old enough to explore on their own, you can use a walkie talkie to communicate with them. This piece of technology from the days of old provide parents with a sense of relative peace while giving kids the independence they need for maturity. When kids reach the age of cell phone ownership, the walkie talkie is packed away. It is replaced with a device that allows us to connect with them and even identify their location at any time and virtually from anywhere.
There is no doubt about the educational benefits that come from technology. When I was a kid, we had a library of encyclopedias. When we needed to research a topic, we either headed to the library or pulled out the encyclopedias. Today, we have Google. When a question arises we don’t have the answer to, we can Google it and in a matter of seconds, we are enlightened. This is a huge help when kids are preparing last minute for the homework they put off.
Today’s families are super busy. Between sports, school, homework assignments, meetings, and appointments, we bounce from place to place in perpetual motion. To make life a little less chaotic, there are a variety of applications for sharing family calendars. You can make updates and edits remotely and share them across all your family members’ devices. Forgot to get the invitations out for Sally’s birthday party? No worries. Just get on Evite and invite your guests. Want to store and share family photos digitally? Google Drive provides 30G free, which allows for a respectable amount of photos and videos.
I must admit that I cringe when I’m at a restaurant and encounter table after table of people eating silently because they are all on separate devices instead of conversing with one another. Mealtime is one of the most important times for connection. One great way to use technology to boost family fun is to play a group game. We like Ellen’s Heads Up! Game. While we are waiting for our food to arrive we play and laugh and make some happy memories.
There is no substitute for face to face interaction and children and adults need to become better at mastering the fine art of it. Limit technology when kids have sleepovers so they can actually interact with one another. Limit screen time for all members of the house. Parents must lead by example and show self-control when using devices. By appropriately and effectively placing limitations, technology can be embraced for the assistance it provides in our daily lives.