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Call me old fashioned, but when I see portable DVD players and fancy gizmos that children have these days I wonder, "Do we really need all of this...STUFF?" I remember going on car rides that were 2 hours or longer as a young child and having nothing but books and my little sister to entertain myself, but now I hear about families who can't take a 10 minute trip to Wal-Mart without putting a DVD into the portable player in the mini van.
I understand that with the advancements in today's technology we have the ability to make our lives easier, and our children healthier through lots of ways that were not available even when we were young. However, I wonder sometimes if some of the "modern conveniences" are actually causing more harm then good. The most convenient solution to keeping children occupied is to put in a movie, but playing outdoors or a board game, working in an activity book, or even being read to might be better options to stimulate our children and help them grow into healthy active human beings.
Someone once told me that all the books on raising children should be relabled as books on how to raise adults, because isn't that our ultimate goal as parents? To raise PEOPLE who are capable of living and interacting in a society that is as dynamic as ours is today.
Am I being too old fashioned and clinging to my own childhood as a means to justify my fear of what I don't understand? I'm about 4 months pregnant with my first child and my fiance and I come from very small communities with very large families, so maybe I'm just a country bumpkin in need of some enlightenment. Can anyone help?
I think it really depends on what type of person you are. It sounds like you come from a community where sending your child outside to play is an option. That certainly was the case when I was growing up. But today, it's just not always doable. I live on main street in a suburban town and there is no way I could let my daughter go outside and play by herself. There is just too much danger, between being in such close proximity to the street, passersby and other houses. While crime in my little town is low, I am not comfortable letting a pretty little 10-year-old outside by herself. And I do a lot of work from home, so while I'm here most of the time, I can't be outside to supervise her.
So what does that leave me? Yes, she spends time on our computer, but is only allowed an hour per day. She also reads, spends time at her grandparents' (who live up the road), goes to drama class, Girl Scouts, does chores around the house and visits with her father on weekends. She's also totally addicted to the TV which is something we're trying to break her out of by limiting how much she can watch. But is she suffering or being held back because she'll get a new Nintendo DS game for Christmas instead of a mountain bike? I don't think so. She's one of the smartest kids in her class, does very well socially and though she is definitely a work in progress (as she should be at this age) she is clearly on the right track.
I think that some of your concerns may come from is the fact that you are a first-time mom. Before you actually have the baby and are faced with endless weeks of sleepless nights, temper tantrums and enerygy binges that last for hours, your ideas of what you would do when faced with these situations are completely different from what you will decide. It's one of those things where you don't really understand until you're in that position. Your perspectives and opinions completely change after your child is born, so my advice would be not to worry about this right now and address it when the situation warrants it. Chances are your baby won't be asking for a cell phone until she's at least 5 (LOL), so you have a few years to make up your own mind as to what's best.
Some final food for thought: your influence is more powerful than any DVD player or computer game. Setting boundaries and sticking to them is so important. Though I had to explain to my daughter for the umpteenth time today why she does not need a cell phone or a laptop, she is not one of those kids who must have a DVD to watch to go to the store. (Personally, I don't get the whole DVD player in the car thing.) I try to guide her to be both tech savvy and have the values I think are important, and I think you can strike the right balance for your family, as well.
I can understand your concerns about too much technology taking away from our children's development. Growing up with computers, television, and the explosion of modern technologies I am very comfortable around them and with using many of them around/for my child. This is from more than just exposure however. It comes from my parents; they made sure I knew right from wrong, how to find orion's belt, what fresh apple cider tastes like, and much more.
TV and computers can distract, but they can educate as well. I've lived in big cities and rural towns (pop. < 1000!), so I see both sides of the argument. Yes being outside is great for development, but when it's not an option there are still numerous other ways to get them out and active like WriteMommy10 says.
In my opinion staying away from those technologies is not a great option either - too much of the world uses them (I even hear for more than entertainment on occasion ) by not letting your children learn about them or through them they are going to behind the curve on educational and social skills with the other children who are exposed to them.
Finding a balance between both sides (like so many other areas) is the best bet for helping your child get ahead in the world.
I think that just like everything else in life, moderation is key. On long trips we use a DVD player after we have exhausted all of our games and songs. We don't use it for a short trip. I strictly limit TV time to when I am trying to get something done for short periods of time. I do think that technology leads to obesity and short attention spans if used in excess.
I totally agree with you that children should be playing outside (with supervision) and reading books. We encourage a lot of pretend play by having tea parties, playing doctor, dressing up like firefighters (or whatever else we are studying) and many other activities. My children are usually happiest playing with non-toy items found around the house.
I think when your baby gets here you will find a balance that is right for you.
Thanks so much for all the advice! It's tough because Adam and I are both pretty old fashioned and come from families who are very similar in their approach to child rearing, so we don't see very many other points of view. However, we do often go to the store or the mall or even just out to dinner and see the kind of children/parents we DON'T want to have/be. We're both very young (I'm 22 he's 25) but have never wanted anything more then to be together and raise a family we just want to do it the "right" way.
I was just 19 when I got pregnant with my first child, so I totally feel where you're coming from. And having been working in restaurants in the few years prior to that, I definitely knew what kind of child I did not want to raise. I have to say, I went more on instinct than anything else and stuck to what I thought was the best course to take. To me, there is no such thing as "the right way," since everyone has a different view of what that is. The best advice I could give you is to stick to your morals, adjust when you need to, try to take each situation with a grain of salt, don't sweat the small stuff, and always be consistent. Consistency is key to raising kids. Hope this helps!
Well put! Balance is sooo important.I don't know if I could have said it better myself!
To be honest, yes it does sound like alot of your concerns have to do with where you came from. LOL that's not a put down! My cousin and are like the country mouse and the city mouse. Her family (my aunt) live on a dairy farm in upstate new york, she now lives in up, UP state michigan, but I've lived in Jersey most of my life, and therefore have had much more accessability to technology than she has had, simply put, it was cheaper for us as we lived in highly populated areas and she didn't because it cost so much to run anykind of technology out and it wasn't feasible. That being said, I know how you feel, and like everyone has said, you are the biggest influence in your children's life. Again I bring up my cousin(s) one still lives in ny and her oldest is very outdoorsy, fishing and hunting and the whole nine yards, BUT on the other had he is alos very technological. And unfortunately, though you may not even have a computer at home that you expose your child to, school will. As that is years off that only means that they will be learning that much more on and from computers by the time your little one is ready.
Again I bring up my cousin, the one in michigan, her 2 girls 9 and 10, run around outside and play and go nuts. She's a stay at home mom, but the girls still have technology just so there is something else for them to do. It's an option for the child and now-a-days even the "classic" board games are going technical. It's an ever changing world unfortunately. You have to do what you see fit, and you'll fall into place once the baby is born. There are benefits and down-falls to technology but you have to figure out what works for you both and your family, not the stereotypes of modern day kids.