Many moms have a hidden fear from the time their babies are born that their child will be left behind other children one way or another. (After your third or fourth child, you get a little less worried!) With technology now in every corner of our world, moms fear that their children are missing out (and may be uncool) if they don’t have enough tech but also worry if they have too much. Should they have a smart phone? Should they take an iPad to school? Do they need their own laptop? Should they limit technology use in their home? But more is better, right?
We all want our kids to have the ‘edge’ and some sort of advantage, but deep down we know that we should be protecting their childhood at the same time. Just when you thought you had a handle on managing the kitchen timer over gaming limits for each child, You Tube consumption and Angry Birds, you are now faced with bigger decisions as questions loom around purchasing even more technology that is of the portable nature. Will it ever stop? You long for the days gone by when technology was used as a tool and not what has become a toy in the hands of your child. A toy that is distracting him from very important childhood activities like talking to mom and dad at the dinner table and playing baseball with his brother in the backyard.
If you are worried that your kids will be left behind if you limit technology in their lives by taking the uncommon, uncool path your gut is telling you to take – – think again. The top CEOs and owners of many high tech companies including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook, all have one thing in common: Their homes and kids are relatively tech free and when tech is allowed, they have very strict limits on it’s use. Yes, I know it is hard to believe but it is true.
A recent New York Times article entitled Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent tells of Mr. Jobs’ surprising response when asked how his children liked the new iPad. “They haven’t used it yet; we limit how much technology our kids use at home.” Steve Jobs would not even let his kids have an iPad. Now there is a good line next time your child is begging for another screen: ”The guy who invented it wouldn’t give it to his own kids sweetie. Why should I let you have one, honey?”
Do these technology chief executives know something that Mom doesn’t know? Let’s just say that they know the detailed science behind what every mom feels deep down: technology overuse is harmful to young children and must be used carefully and in moderation as they grow into older teens. These leaders set strict tech limits and none of them allow screens (including phones) in their children’s bedroom. Many of their kids also attend low-tech schools. They know that the business of brain development in a child is best accomplished when the child can utilize many different neuronal pathways not just overusing the pathways needed for Angry Birds.
Will tech overuse hurt your child? Yes it will. It is not a benign activity. It causes the release of neurochemicals and if out of balance, can change the actual structure (neuronal pathways) of the brain.
Will moderate use (whatever that is) hurt him? Maybe. This generation is part of the experiential phase of this new frontier of a screen in the hands of every child. The verdict is still out.
Will little or no tech hurt him? No. Why? Because children have more important brain building activities to take care of before they soak their brains with technology. Limited/balanced use when he is young will allow important brain development to take place that he will need later in life. When he is an older teen he will be able to use that balanced brain to utilize technology as a tool in his life instead of a toy. Not only will he be able to easily jump on the technology train at that point, he may even be able to drive it! I am pretty sure that Bill Gates didn’t play video games all day or waste time on Instagram when he was a kid. Just saying.
Join the ranks of the upper echelon of tech savvy smart parent leaders and follow their advise on this one. But first do your own research so you can own your decision. Re-think the purpose of each technology screen in your child’s hands and err on the side of caution on this one, Mom. Slow things down a bit for your kids and have no fear, it is usually the “uncool” kids in school that grow up to make the world a better place!