Plugged in

Mom & child with laptop

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A recent New York Times article talks about the increased amount of time parents spend “plugged in” to laptops, internet capable phones, and more.  The article suggests that parents who spend a lot of time online are detrimental to the health and happiness of their children.

The boy, who Ms. Im estimates was about 2 1/2 years old, made repeated attempts to talk to his mother, but she wouldn’t look up from her BlackBerry. “He’s like: ‘Mama? Mama? Mama?’ ” Ms. Im recalled. “And then he starts tapping her leg. And she goes: ‘Just wait a second. Just wait a second.’ ”

Finally, he was so frustrated, Ms. Im said, that “he goes, ‘Ahhh!’ and tries to bite her leg.”

You know what?  I’ve seen this happen all the time.  As a mom who works from home, and who works online and takes online classes, this article immediately sent me into a panic.  Do I do this?  Do I abandon my daughter to almost no verbal interaction while I mindlessly troll the internet?

And the answer, like most parenting questions, is that if you care enough to be really concerned about it, you’re probably doing just fine.  For the sake of my own peace of mind, I started really monitoring, and I found some important things.

  • I don’t have an internet capable phone, so when we’re out in public my attention is fully focused on my family.  I have no intention of getting an internet capable phone/blackberry/iPhone for this very reason.
  • When my daughter needs me, I immediately shut down the laptop, turn off the phone, put away the technology and take the time to hug her, read her a book, or get her a snack.
  • I have dedicated hours during the day for work, most of which take place during her nap times.
  • She has no more than three hours (and not consecutively) of alone time during the day.  Now when I say alone time, I am right here with her, a few feet away, but I leave it up to her to entertain herself during these times.  These periods of solitary play are never more than a half hour at once, never involve the television, and while she is playing I still talk to her.  I ask her what she’s doing, sing the alphabet song with her, etc.

So do I think we’re ruining our kids with connectivity?  Absolutely not.  Frankly, the sorts of people who become so involved in the internet that they forget to take care of their kids are likely to have been distracted parents whether or not they’re “plugged in.”

Would I love to spend every second giving my daughter my undivided attention?  Of course I…  wait, no.  No, I wouldn’t.  I love my work.  It keeps me modestly paid and slightly more sane, allows me to write about my interests, and keeps me in contact with the outside grownup world.  So no, I wouldn’t want to spend every single second of every single day doing nothing but toddler appropriate activities.  However, more than that I think the solitary play is good for fostering a sense of independence and, as long as I am careful to acknowledge her and her needs, will end up with a more well rounded child.

So is the internet our downfall?  No more so than when everyone suggested (and some still do) that the internet would bring about the complete failure of all people to socially interact in person.  I still have no problems making and keeping friends in the real world and, most likely, neither do you.  The internet is just another tool in a modern, technologically forward world.  We can use it to help our kids with their homework when they come to us with a math question we’ve long forgotten how to solve.  We can use it to enrich their school learning with extra lessons, cool instructive videos, and structured game play.  We can use computers to be sure our children grow up with the sort of computer and tech savvy that is going to be necessary for the health of their future academic and professional lives.

And like any tool, it’s up to us to make sure it is used properly… not too much, and with regard to age appropriate material.  As a mom who works from home, my number one job is still my daughter.  Everything else comes second, as it should.

Skinny Sushi signature————————-

More from me:

Small Victories Lane – where I conquer pizza

Scheduling the day

World Cup Wines Vol 4

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If you have a moment, please take some time to go and vote for my Mamavation application!  You can see my application video here, and you can “vote” for me by heading to Twitter and tweeting this: Hey @bookieboo! I want @SkinnySushi to be the next #Mamavation Mom. She has my support! http://bit.ly/zqUx. As always, your support means SO much to me.

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