MUSIC, FILMS & APPS

Let’s talk about electronics and our children

This is not your average Babyccino post but I wanted to speak openly about a topic I feel really passionate about. I want to talk about electronics and the way they are affecting our children.

I recently went on a school field trip with my 9-year-old son’s class to see the Vikings Exhibition at the British Museum. What lucky children to live in a city where they can take a short subway journey to one of the world’s best museums (and I must say, the Vikings Exhibit was incredible)! While in the museum, I noticed that some of the children had brought a Nintendo DS. The more I looked around, the more children I noticed who were playing games on iPhones, Nintendos and various other devices. I think my jaw must have touched the floor; I was absolutely shocked! Here we were, on a once-in-a-life time school field trip, in one of the world’s most fascinating museums, and these children were completely unengaged and uninterested in their surroundings. Some were sitting down against a wall with their little thumbs pounding against their device, others played as they walked around, bumping into people because they were so focused on the little machine in the palm of their hands.

When I asked the teachers if this was allowed, I was told that they weren’t supposed to be playing games, but that they were allowed to bring cameras on the field trip. It seems that nowadays iPhones and Nintendos are considered cameras because they all have photo-taking capabilities. So, the line between cameras and video games has become blurred, and to my astonishment, we now have children going on field trips with their video games in tow.

And not only this, but I am increasingly aware of young children sitting in restaurants with an iPhone, playing video games on the bus, watching DVDs on every car journey no matter how long.  It seems children aren’t being given the chance to be bored, they aren’t being encouraged to create their own fun or to be present in the moment. What ever happened to good old-fashioned conversation? Talking to our children over dinner? Encouraging them to talk to each other? Or just waiting patiently to eat? What ever happened to observation? Taking in your surroundings on the bus? Experiencing exhibits in a museum? Asking questions, sharing observations, making memories?

In a few weeks my eldest will be going on a 4-day school camping trip. In a meeting this week to brief the parents, I asked if electronics would be allowed. And I opened a big can of worms! The teachers explained that the children would be allowed to bring electronics because it ‘keeps them quiet while on the journey.’ Another teacher explained that he thinks it’s good for children to embrace modern technology and to learn how to use electronics from an early age.

This is rubbish, and I feel compelled to say so.

We did not have iPhones or iPads when we were young, but miraculously we all know how to use them. Even my technologically impaired father uses a laptop and an iPhone with ease. Is there really any advantage to be gained by letting our children play games on our iphones? No. And with regards to ‘keeping the children quiet on the bus’… Really?! Shouldn’t they be singing songs, chatting to each other, looking out their windows, making silly faces to the people in the cars they’re passing? That’s what we did when we were kids and the bus ride was often one of the best parts of school trips. Why would we give them a sedative dose of Nintendo?

Our children are only little for such a short time. The window for imaginative adventures and play is so small. They have the rest of their lives to be attached to a device. Why start now?

x Courtney

p.s. I very rarely share my parenting views on this blog. I am generally quite open minded about the decisions other parents make, and I know that I am by no means an expert. But for some reason, this feels different to me. I hope you too will share your thoughts and comments, in favour or against my view. I would love for this to become an open dialogue between us all. xx

(Image above found here)


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Comments (130)

April 5, 2014

I totally agree. My sin won’t be owning a hand held electronic device of his own until he’s in senior school. Absolulty no need as he needs to learn social skills and how to play using his imagination. I do not agree with schools allowing such equipment to be taken in school trips. I feel it’s laziness on the part if the teachers. They don’t want the hassle of parents or the kids complaining. Well said Courtney, I’m with you x


Katie
April 5, 2014

I totally agree with you! Seeing other people’s children with their iPhone/DS/wii… Is always quite a shock to me. These parents are the ones who tell you they HAVE to have screens in their cars to take a trip too, because their children “can’t stand” staying in the car too long. On the other hand, they are amazed that my kids read so much ( 7 and 5 year old ), sing so much, have so many games ideas and get on so well with each other!
There is a price to pay for those few minutes of calm on the bus. The teachers of all people should know that!
Thank you for sharing, your blog and Instagram are always an inspiration.


Christine
April 5, 2014

Courtney, I couldn’t agree more!

Your whole post pretty much sums up how I feel also. I hate seeing little kiddies zombified by these gadgets.

I really do worry how it affects children’s communication skills, with peers and adults and the wider world around them. This really is an issue, as my husband who is a lecturer in third level sees the result of this everyday. So few students who can communicate well are now part of the third level system. And it’s not even just plain old shyness.

I keep waiting for a turnaround, thinking people surely must be seeing this is not good, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be coming any day soon.


Courtney in London
April 6, 2014

Christine,
I also keep waiting for a backlash against all these electronic devices, but like you said it seems to be getting worse. We as parents have to resist as much we can. I can’t imagine what this world will become if we don’t. xx


April 5, 2014

Hear, hear!

I’m so happy Phones/Nintendos etc are forbidden at our school. When they go out camping, we have the teachers phonenumber in case of emergency.
It has to be about singing, climbing trees, building a fire, dress up, …


no technology for us
April 5, 2014

I love your post! i couldn’t agree more! 110%! It is rubbish. Please let your school know!! why should electronics be allowed on the 4 day camp trip? We have no smart phones – what’s wrong with a dumb phone lol?! ipad, ipod, or anything!! our kids use none of it and i know we are rare! we’re managing ok and we do all the traditional things you did when you were young. we fly every year long haul 30 hours door to door and we use no electronics between 3 airports. fyi, it’s just as worse this side of the world in Asia.


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Jenny
April 5, 2014

Hi,
I think this is an interesting one too! I agree entirely with what you say with regard to children not being able to appreciate what is around them with their noses stuck in electronics, but I wonder what anyone thinks with regard to where to draw the line. I have one son, Henry who is 3.5 years. I do allow him to play certain ges on our iPad, most of which are educational and have helped him with his learning. Although I might add that we talk And read a lot with him and encourage him through other medias aswell. I do worry though that he, like this post says, is not being given the chance to get bored and I find it difficult to know where to see the line, especially as he is almost too young to understand why any such limits might be being applied and I am conscious of not wanting to put arbitrary boundaries in place.

I would be interested to hear what you all think!

Take care

Jen xx


Courtney in London
April 6, 2014

Hi Jen,
Thanks for your comment, and you’ve raised an interesting point. Of course there is a time and place for electronics, and eliminating them entirely is not my intention.

My children never ever watch normal television, but we will allow the occasional movie on a rainy evening or a special occasion… but not with the goal of keeping them quiet, but more as a fun activity for them all. And we do have a couple educational games on our iPad and every once in a while will allow the kids to play on it. But this is rare, and it is certainly not at the dinner table or in any other social setting.

I think it’s all about the right time and place, and of course limiting what they’re watching or playing, as there are so many terrible things out there (even some of the games that are sold as ‘educational’ are just as addictive as the others!).

Thank you again for your comment. xx


April 5, 2014

I totally agree: it seems as if many kids do not even “know how to be bored” nowadays. Something so natural however really hard for some to even allow it to happen. As if they need to be entertained by *something else* all the time rather than finding an activity (or just be bored!), like we used to. I have to say though, that being a parent who does most of her work online (and from home), it becomes hard to (somewhat) rule out the use of electronics in front of my daughter. I do not want her to get accustomed to these devices, so I have to set the best example myself first and foremost. I think education and moderation are definitely important keywords; teaching children what really matters, letting them experience it, and knowing where and when (again as a parent first and foremost) to draw a line regarding electronic devices.

I have been living in the UK for about 4 years now, and I often call my family (in my homeland) via Skype. Without teaching my toddler (I had definitely NO intentions to do so), she already knows which buttons I use to call my family for example and how to “tap on Skype for grandma”. So this theory of “letting kids embrace modern technology and to let them learn how to use electronics from an early age” is very weak to say the least. Electronics are indeed easy to use, and should not be used as an excuse to let them play mindless games, not interact with one another, to keep them quiet on a bus trip! Very sad about this (and also sad to admit I am not even surprised at this stage, since it happens so much).

My younger brother has been allowed to play with so many devices, the older I got (there is a big age gap) the more I realised he had trouble with.. being bored. As silly as it sounds, this really is a problem. Thankfully he is doing well now that he is a teen and has other things he needs to spend his time on, but he has spent a huge amount of his precious time behind bars, eh.. screens.

Sorry for the lengthy response, but it really is something that frustrates me, and definitely something I want to be careful with with my children! Thanks for bringing it up ^^


Courtney in London
April 6, 2014

Leyla,
Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I completely agree with you. And also, like you, understand that I need to lead by example. As much as I try to limit my own time on my phone or computer, it is inevitable that they see me on them. But it’s something I’m becoming more and more aware of, especially as they grow older.
xx


Miriam
April 5, 2014

Hurray Courtney! I like a discussion and i don’t like it when everybody agrees the same thing. But i have to agree totally! Your arguments are well written. I think that parents / grownups use it (sometimes) out of laziness… Ouch! Sorry!
By the way: My children are allowed to use an iphone or ipad, but rarely.


Jess Clayden
April 5, 2014

I have been thinking about this a lot myself and this was a refreshing read! I have recently become more concerned with my 6 year old sons addiction to games on mine and my partners iPhones and after reading your blog has just sparked an interesting discussion between me and my other half. When I told him I find it sad that kids today have their heads buried in technological devices, he questioned it, his argument was that surely watching a film is just as mind numbing and that a lot of games can be quite challenging, like doing a puzzle. We do let our son play games on our iPhone but we police it, he knows there is a time limit! I remember writing about how technology seems to be blurring the boundaries of reality in my dissertation (oh so long ago) and I do believe this is true. I guess the question is how do we embrace technology which is a big part of our children’s generation without hindering their imagination and real creative skills. I personally prefer to hear my son playing with his physical toys (like he is now with his Lego) than that eerie silence that you get when a child is so absorbed in a game….


Miriam
April 5, 2014

Ps: I am really interested in the opposite views.


Sharen
April 5, 2014

Imaginative adventures and play ARE childhood. I feel quite sad that kids are missing this these days. My eldest is only 18 months old, but I can say with quiet confidence video games and the like will not have a large presence in our home. My kids won’t have their own iPhones and iPods by the time they’re 8. They miss such a magical and important part of their childhoods by spending all their time glued to a screen. Call me old fashioned but I much prefer my kids get creative with some good old wooden blocks than play on a Nintendo!


Valerie
April 5, 2014

I.Agree.With.Every.Single.Word!!! Perfectly written this sums up all my thoughts. Thank you!


SalutVenezia
April 5, 2014

As a primary school teacher myself I am horrified to hear the children were not asked to put their devices away while in the museum! Not only were they missing valuable learning experiences but it is extremely bad manners! I wish more people would speak up with views like yours Courtney and you are completely right about opportunities for imaginative play. It is so important as it allows children to develop their
communication and cooperation skills which are really crucial for happiness in childhood and adult life. So glad you posted this!


April 5, 2014

Yes,I agree with every single word,my older 6 years old girl is asking for long time for iPad,she is even saving her own money for it)She sometimes play educational games on my laptop-once a week maybe,but I think thats plenty.They both have television time maybe 1,5 hour a day and other than that if we are stuck at home(Canadian winter) they are playing imagination games all day long,we do a lot of crafts ,paintings,my older is reading both in Czech and English since 4,5,I think we are doing fine without playing games every day and hope it will stay like this-its probably much harder with boys?They seems to me more addictive to such a things,but I have no experience )


April 5, 2014

I agree. My daughter uses ipad, hands up, a bit more then I would wish, but I would never take it for a train or bus journey unless very long nor to a restaurant. You often see kids in places like Pizza Express (which is really kiddie place) with their ipads. I feel in those cases is just plain laziness. I tend to take drawing bits, books, and used tons of sticker books when she was smaller…I find once I give my daughter uninterrupted attention for some time she then likes to play/occupy herself much easier and for longer. I understand people have really busy lives these days and we don’t always have time for our children as much as we would like to, but you are right they are small for such short time and those are the years which will effect them the most….


Becky
April 5, 2014

A fascinating subject! I can’t say I disagree with what you’ve written, in principle, particularly as regards the presence of such devices on school trips. However, I suspect the alternative for many is not ‘singing, chatting and pulling faces out of the window’ on the school bus, or ‘talking/waiting patiently to eat’ at the table It’s often boisterous fighting, yelling, competitive or sniping argument. Knowing how to combat this, and to create a different ethos on a school bus or at home, on a sustainable basis, is neither easy nor straightforward. It used to be the norm, but no longer. Screens may be the wrong answer to a behavioural issue, but the right answer is hard to come by, especially if you’re going against the flow of what the rest of society expects. I’m not saying it’s wrong to try – but I do know first-hand how wearing a sustained effort on this front can be for some of us. At present none of my boys have portable screen devices (and I’ve no plans to supply them with any), but I do feel that I fight daily to promote the ‘good old fashioned’ behaviour, and it has taken its toll on me. Perhaps it’s just not something which comes easily to my kids, or perhaps I’ve failed as a parent – but either way the fight is long and hard (I’m with them full time outside school hours), and good ideas are hard to come by. It just doesn’t come naturally for some.


laly
April 5, 2014

I coulndt agree more with you .. and most of the time I feel soooo alone ..no one thinks this way anymore. And its very difficult trying to do things my way because kids want to do what others kids do .
Kids make noice, and they demand sooo much attention .. that´s what growing up is all about but is seems like nowdays parent want them quiet and sitting still in one place .
its like adhd …. how can there be soooo many kids taking drugs for that problem ? I just cant understand !


Janet
April 5, 2014

Great post! I find this to be a very difficult issue too. I have a 2 and a half year old and a 9 month old and have tried to keep both of them completely ‘screen free’ (apart from skype-ing family as we live overseas). It is one ‘parenting’ thing that I am surprised to find I feel very strongly about. Apart from the evidence from research and that it is in all the ‘guidelines’ to do this, instinctively I find it wrong whenever I see a young child with a screen (particularly very young children). However, I am amazed at how difficult it has been to negotiate this policy in terms of the wider society. I don’t know any other parents who feel the same way as I do, and all our friends frequently talk about tv shows/apps etc that their children play with. I don’t mind at all what they do, but I do sense that they are quite aggressive about it with me, as if they want to push it onto me. I actually find myself trying to keep it a ‘secret’ that we don’t let the kids watch TV because when people find out, there is an inevitable torrent of disbelief and trying to push screens onto us!! And friends are always trying to give my children iPads/TV shows to watch when we are with them which can be very awkward. I find it funny when they will check with me if it is okay to give my child a snack, but not whether it is okay to shove a screen in front of their face. Anyway, as my toddler gets older I am thinking it is going to be difficult. In my ideal world we would keep him away from screens as long as possible, but I do accept that other children are not raised the same and that screens are everywhere in wider society so perhaps I need to be more flexible so that he can learn how to develop a healthy balance… Whilst I would love for him to be able to play for hours with friends like I used to, maybe his friends won’t want to/have the capacity to in the same way as when I was young.. Anyway it is something I think about a lot, and I am so glad you raised it as a topic. I sometimes feel like I am the only one who feels this way!!


Kate
April 10, 2014

Fabulous post! Our toddler is ‘screen free’ (apart from skyping long-distance family/godparents) and we plan to keep him away from screens until he goes to primary school (and even then they’ll be very limited). I relate to Janet’s comment that it sometimes feels difficult to talk about our choice with others and that it can be hard to keep screen-free when with family on holidays, for example. On the whole, though, we’ve found that if we’re matter of fact about it, most people are respectful of our decision (although my nieces clearly think it’s bonkers and that our little one would *like* TV, honestly, Aunty Kate!) It’s definitely countercultural, but I am delighted that we’ve made this decision. One of the best books I’ve read that touches on this topic is ‘Simplicity Parenting’ http://www.simplicityparenting.com/ I read it after deciding to parent this way and have found it immensely affirming.


Kate Turner
April 5, 2014

Thank you for shouting it out! I wish I had a better platform to do the same.


sharon
April 5, 2014

I feel compelled and AGREE with you totally! It’s not only happening there where you are but here in Asia and I am sure all around the world.

Children in the city here are Babysat by an IPhone or a gadget of some sort..Parents hardly interact with children, hardly speaks to them anymore as the parents are also themselves having their face smacked in front of their screens. Children show tantrum when asked to put away the phone but who is to blame. It’s called the ADHD syndrome. It’s sad to see children do not chat or read a book, or draw anymore. or even having kids playing real games outside rather than a virtual game

What does the future holes?? ‘Jobs’ gave the world the iPhone but somehow took away the human interactions.


April 5, 2014

My feelings exactly! This is one of those issues that makes me think that, as a society, we have lost our understanding of our parental responsibilities. Yes, it can be very, very difficult to teach your children appropriate behavior, good manners, and respect for their surroundings. But, like so many things, the best way to teach others is to teach yourself first. I think we forget how much we are watched/observed by our very young children. If we model to them what it looks like to interact in our world without the crutch of an iPhone, they will copy our behavior. If we behave appropriately, they will learn from our actions, long before they understand our spoken directions to them. Wishing that kids could pick up their heads from their phones/games really begins with looking up from ours and walking through these learning experiences with them! And yes, I’m preaching to myself here 🙂


April 5, 2014

A great post Courtney! I do no allow any electronics in my home during the school week and the children are not allowed on our phones without express permission and a time limit. Children absolutely can entertain themselves and be well behaved without a device to lull them into quietness. What most parents may not want to admit is that it means more work on our part to actually interact with our children! No phone time for them means no phone time for us too!! I was recently waiting for 90 minutes at an urgent care facilty…I was the only one with a child. A quick survey of the room showed 90% of the adults on their phones…1-2 people reading a book…and another few just chatting. It was a sad scene.

Thanks for being courageous enough to go deep with this post. Feel free to do so again. ;-). Happy weekend! xoxo, Annie


Louise
April 5, 2014

Great post! I totally agree about the need for children to have time to be bored and use their imaginations to create their own entertainment. I’m proud to say we do not have any in car DVD players for my 4 and 6 year old-we listen to story tapes, chat and play games on long journeys the good old fashioned way! I have fond memories from childhood of my mum reading Roald Dahl books to us all on long car trips and everyone listening attentively and enjoying it, including my dad!

I am also really grateful that my six year old boy favours tree climbing and making mud pies in the garden to being stuck indoors with a computer game-hoping this lasts as long as possible!


Leah Adams
April 5, 2014

I’m behind you a 100% We have even chosen a school for our children who do not have interactive white boards (use the old fashioned black board), no tv’s & learn IT skills when it is age appropriate. It’s great knowing that as parents we have the control over the exposure our children (2 & 5) have; they are allowed tv time & occasional playing on iPhones but no more than an hour a day. At school & home they spend most of their time with imaginative play, crafting & exploring the great outdoors – I believe this makes happy, well rounded children! The complete opposite to my sister’s children who have their own tablets from the age of 2; shall be interesting to see what effect it will have on our children in the future with the two different approaches?!


Lauren
April 5, 2014

Love this post! What ever happened to just playing? Yes, they have their whole lives to be attached to technology…let them be children as long as possible!


Khali
April 6, 2014

I completely agree Courtney! I’m so pleased you decided to cover this topic. I’d encourage you to do more posts about your views on parenting. It’s important that we are all exposed to each other’s opinions as it helps us define our own.


dana
April 6, 2014

This is one of the reasons we send our kids to a waldorf school where electronics are not allowed and computers are not used in school until 8th grade – seems crazy at first, but honestly, it’s really refreshing to see these kids act like, gasp, kids! The NYTimes recently published a great article (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) about how the tech ceos send their kids to schools than ban electronics. Pretty interesting! I’m all about letting kids get bored and then figuring out how not to be bored. It breeds creativity…


Courtney in London
April 6, 2014

Dana,
Thank you so much for sharing this article. It’s so interesting and I will definitely pass this along.
And I agree completely about how boredom breeds creativity. If I handed my children an ipod every time they told me they were bored or got a little wild and noisy, they would barely play with each other, wouldn’t run out in the garden and make ‘mud stew’, wouldn’t build marble tracks and towers, and wouldn’t come up with their own games. Not only would their imagination be stifled, but they wouldn’t be as close to each other because they wouldn’t be playing together.

The interesting thing is that I send my children to a school that is very similar to the Waldorf educational philosophy. It’s a progressive school that doesn’t follow the traditional English education system, and up until now has always seemed very similar to the Waldorf and Steiner schools. Which is why I think I’m even more concerned! If THIS school is allowing electronics on a field trip, then what does this say about others???

Thank you for your comment!
xx Courtney


Tari
April 6, 2014

Exactly my view also, agree with every single word!


Stella
April 6, 2014

I agree with you.
I think the children nowadays are too attached to electronics, they will be experts on those but will lack imagination, social skills, pacience, creativity, etc
I don’t allow my children to watch tv at the dinner table, we din’t have dvd player in our car ( although on long trips i let them watch something or play on my ipad and lap top, but i am talking about a 20hr trip


Ee kiat
April 6, 2014

I totally agree with you. The teachers are jus being lazy for allowing children access to technologies during camping trip.


April 6, 2014

Completely agree! Children do NOT need electronic gadgets on school trips and need to learn to engage in the moment. Learning self control and how to occupy themselves on long journeys and at restaurants, with help from their parents and teachers is an important skill.
I have noticed how any period spent playing a game or watching TV results in hyper children, who are moody and sullen. A brisk walk and a play outdoors immediately puts everyone back in a better mood.
We never had gadgetry as kids, but know how to use it and youngsters are very quick to learn. I agree it is their future and they need to know how to use the stuff, but life is all about balance and it our job to teach our children what that is.


ErinLucyLoves
April 6, 2014

This is a subject I feel passionate about as well and I’m often made to feel ‘old fashioned’ or silly if I mention my views to other parents. This is a slightly controversial view, but I can’t help but think the people who say things like ’embrace technology’ and ‘it’s unavoidable these days’ are people who are guilty of letting their children use iphones/ipads/nintendos/portable DVD players because it is an easy fix. Parenting is not meant to be easy!
I’m amazed to see families at cafes and restaurants who are sitting together around a table but each looking at the electronic device in their lap and not interracting with each other. It makes me sad.
I struggle with my own addiction to my iphone and it’s something I’m always trying to find a better balance with, the last thing I want is to pass that addiction on to my children. Thank you so much for this frank and honest post. I loved it!


Claire
April 6, 2014

It’s so frightening how captivated even very young children are by “screens”. A friend of mine and I were chatting about this only the other day. Whilst neither of our children have been taught or encouraged to use technology, it is present in their daily lives through us, their mothers. Our toddlers are fixated by the screens on our phones and it is horrendously difficult to take the phone back once they’ve wangled it out of our hands. What’s most concerning to us anyway, is that it has shown how much we use our phones throughout the day, to telephone, text, take a photo, check a blog/IG. I, for one need to limit my screen time in front of my son in the hopes of setting a better example!


ash Jameson
April 6, 2014

Don’t have much time to write, feeding my precious little one, but wwholeheartedly agree. We need more people like yourself standing up and saying this is not okay! Come on parents, our children are only so young for such a short time xx


Gina
April 6, 2014

I couldn’t agree more with you, Courtney. My three little cousins are always playing on their parents iPad or iPhone or watching tv, so when they’re not attached to technology items they feel bored. I can’t understand how their parents allow this.


Maria
April 6, 2014

I totally agree! This is a topic I often think about. It’s hard to see how our children lose their young days in front of a screen. It’s their time to explore, to discover the amazing nature of world they are living in, to use one’s imagination and creativity.
I’d love you to write more posts like this. Thanks!
xo, M


Laestrelladelola
April 6, 2014

I agree with you, I don’ t understand why children are supposed to be all day with these kind of electronic games. I hate this kind of play, I mean every one can do whatever they want with their children but for my own ines I decide to play electronics with them from time to time. I think the same as you, they need their own space, and their own free time to play and to do traditional children plays! http://www.laestrelladelola.blogspot.com


Erica Matthew
April 6, 2014

“The teachers explained that the children would be allowed to bring electronics because it ‘keeps them quiet while on the journey.’ Another teacher explained that he thinks it’s good for children to embrace modern technology and to learn how to use electronics from an early age.” That’s not entirely accurate, it was also explained at the end of the 90 minute bus ride to the camp, that all electronic devices had to be handed in, and they would be returned at the end of the three day camp. 90 minute bus ride in no big deal IMO. I can’t see a lot of long term ‘scarring’.
EM70


April 6, 2014

Hi Courtney,
I’m so glad I read your post and even more I’m glad I met a mother who shares my point of view about raising kids nowadays!
You hit the point with your blog post and I couldn’t agree more with you about kids ab(using) electronics wether at school, on vacation, at home or in restaurants. I hope parents will find the way to distract their children from virtual world and bring them closer to the real world that surrounds us.
Thanks,
Kristina


Terri
April 6, 2014

Thank you for speaking up and sharing your thoughts on the matter. I completely agree with all the points you’ve made in this post.


Jackie van den Bergh
April 6, 2014

We also has a screen free house but it does not stop my girls aged 7 asking to get a screen, or look at something on the computer. that they have heard about in school. Their friends use screens as social currency and my girls feel alienated. I would be very interested in peoples views on how they deal with this aspect of parenting? Thank you Courtney for highlighting this issue, sometimes we feel we are the crazy parents for our stance.


Liz
April 6, 2014

Congratulations on voicing your thoughts. I agree wholeheartedly. It is a constant and personal battle for me as a mother to resist technology on behalf of my children and it can get very tiring. Yet I have four children who can sit in a car together looking out the window at the world going by or read a book for hours on end. I am able to ask visiting children to put away their gadgets and to play with confidence. What gives me this confidence is the conviction that childhood is the time to develop skills for interaction with the world, each other and their imagination and it is my role as a parent to ensure these opportunities arise. Gadgets will wait til I am ready for them regardless of what common culture is pressing down on me with. It is hard but so worth it!!


Julia
April 6, 2014

Hi There, I am a mom to three and a school teacher.

I agree children are too engaged with their devices and too often they are more focused on their computer games / social media then the world around them.

As a parent (my oldest is only 3.5) my kids watch minimal tv and use the iPad for selected educational games but I will admit to regularly giving my son an iPhone to play with while sitting at a cafe for lunch or a coffee. How do you keep four kids occupied in this sort of situation? I often bring toys and coloring books as well but nothing is as interesting to him as the iPhone and also as easy to slip into my bag.

As a teacher at our school we don’t allow children to bring devices to school but I would think it was ok to bring them for a bus ride on a long trip. Did you know teachers are not paid any extra to go on over night field trips away from their families. They do it out of the goodness of their hearts. Imagine sitting in a bus with 60 kids for 2+ hours on the way to a camp I wouldn’t mind if some of those kids had devices as they can get very rowdy, continually get up (on a moving bus) and argue with each other. I do agree that once at the destination all devices should be put away. I guess what I’m saying is there is a time and place for these devices.


Courtney in London
April 7, 2014

Hi Julia,
Thanks for offering your perspective as a teacher and for the reminder of how much work it is for teachers to take 40 excited children on a bus journey. I have great respect for the teachers’ job and I am not trying to take any credit away. But I do think that, with just a bit of work and preparation (perhaps the teachers could create a scavenger hunt for the kids to spot things along the way?) there are other possible ways to keep them calm and quiet that don’t involve video games.
Anyway, thank you for commenting. x


Magdalene
April 6, 2014

I am SO glad you wrote this and applaud you for so doing. If opening a can of worms brings about radical but beneficial changes in the lives of children, then carry on and so do. These children represent the next generation, and it is alarming to note how values, creativity, even skills such as reading and penmanship, amongst others, are rapidly declining amongst them. Many a time have I observed parents, who are unable to handle their babies, toddles, and little children, handing over their techie gadgets without a fuss, merely to shut their own kids up. As for teachers doing that too? I am one by profession, and it is such a sad thing to hear of adults, who have dedicated their lives to serving the growth of the next generation, doing that as well. All I can say is, thank you so much for writing this. It feels grand to know that there are folks around the world, who still hold on to values and traditions in bringing up their children. Brava! xxx


Margaret
April 6, 2014

While I wholeheartedly agree with the spirit of this post, I think moderation is key. My kids share an ipad on long car rides (anything over two hours), but most of the rest of the time it’s not even charged. They watch tv shows, but so did I when I was a kid (I’m 30). And I remember field trips in the nice coach buses in elemntary school always included a movie. I have even let my daughter watch a show on my phone when I’m at coffee with a friend (though I do bring toys, and she does play with them). Here’s the hard part/interesting thing. One: The more/less my kids get TV the more/less they want it. It’s really up to me, and i find myself saying no to “movies” just because, so they hear me say it without melting down. Two: but putting the genie back in the bottle is very hard, and on rare occasions I don’t choose to fight THAT battle. That said, I find your recent field trip experience abhorrent. Kids should not be playing games, and I’m sorry, even if you allow phones/DSs that take photos it is fairly obvious when a kid is gaming. And when my husband and I are out with our kids we don’t even think about letting them watch something. Now, getting our friends to get on board when we’re at someone else’s house is another story.


Kim
April 6, 2014

Mmmm I think some teachers/schools take a lazy attitude to teaching! In our school no electronic items (phones, iPods, iPads, etc) are allowed at any time in school or on a school trip unless it is during an IT lesson (in which it used in an educational form, research programming, design, etc).
At home I do allow small portions in our household to electronics, like TV, and from style age of 6 – wii and educational computer (supervised) computer time, which is not allowed (including TV or dvd’s) on school days. I do think there is a balance to be found (and a lot of parenting skills and patience with it – saying no to all might be easier!;-)) as this is all more part of their future than it ever was in ours. In my opinion Common sense and balance needs to found and neither extreme will be in the advantage of your child.


Lauren Wood
April 6, 2014

Yippe! At last! I agree with every single word. I have mentioned this to a group of friends recently and they all looked at me like I was mad! My 5 and 6 year old have never used a smart phone / ipad or games console and they play the most creative, imaginative games together, and I think becasue of these endless hours of play have the most beautiful connection with each other and truly are best friends. They watch minimal tv but we love sitting down together and watching old fashioned movies like ‘mary poppins’ or ‘bed knobs and broomsticks’. If the tv is ever on they will tell me to switch it off as it is distracting them! I will avoid electronic devices for them for as long as I can. Thank you for writing such a fantastic post. A Mama after my own heart xx


April 6, 2014

Great post! In reply to Jackie van de Bergh on to how to combat your children feeling isolated with from their friends, I do think it is a question of balance and it does get harder as they get older. I have 3 children (12, 6 and 3) We have no TV at home, my eldest has an ipod (he is 12) and his own laptop. He is a very confident, happy, focused child who has already decided that he wants to be a film director and uses it to edit his own “movies” (filmed on a flip camera which is just photos and video) and skype his friends (through their parents skype accounts – checked by me) I am happy for him to do this as I know that he walks (with 5 of his friends) the 45 minute journey to senior school and back each day, plays sport most lunchtimes, after school clubs twice a week, football Saturday and Sunday mornings, family dinners around the table every night, fun, squabbles and laughter with his brother and sister, outdoor den building and games with his friends at the park, fishing, reading and plenty more. In short, his computer and his ipod make up a small part of a varied, interesting and vibrant life. I aim as much as possible to keep the balance there. I do think that if he wasn’t allowed them at all at this age, it would be a much bigger deal for him (and I think he would resent me and my other half for it) so by not making it a big deal but ensuring that it is a small slice of the pie (and focused on an area he is genuinely interested in – video and film making) a lot of potential tensions are diffused. One way I have managed to keep the smaller ones away from technology is by swapping my iphone for the most basic (almost extinct) mobile phone that simply is for calls and texts – no apps or internet, only holds up to 50 texts at one time! I do let them watch the occasional program on my laptop and we have a movie night once a week where we all sit down and watch a film together on my computer (youngest is usually asleep in bed). I know I have rambled on here but I guess the point I wanted to make is that there are ways to make it work for the benefit of everyone without withholding from the child or compromising your own beliefs. And I do think it is a personal response as to what works for you and your family. And coming back to the school trips – I do think that if other Mums and Dads at the school agree (which I imagine they would) then it is worthwhile entering into discussion regarding school policy and the use of mobiles/hand held gaming devices etc and see if the guidelines can be altered. Maybe if they have to take them, can they just play for 30 minutes after dinner? Rather than free rein to plug in at the museums and places of cultural interest? Can they be handed to the teachers on the coach for safe keeping and only given out if they are stuck in traffic and delayed by x amount of time? So that the kids do have some boundaries with their gadgets as this does seem to be lacking! I hope this helps in some way! Katx


Mo
April 6, 2014

Hey Courtney – good for you for raising a subject you feel passionate about. I totally agree with the right time, right place and the whole let kids be bored thing. I use the quote on my kids that you gave me from your Mum when they tell me they’re bored “What you’re bored? – you have a garden and 2 siblings – you can go play anything!” (except with you it was 4 siblings and a farm!!!). I have endless guilt about TV watching in our house – the kids watch 1/2 hour German kids TV most days. Part of this is important for helping them with their 2nd language but I still feel chav-mum about that. We also use the iPad on a plane – that is a place where a kids boredom can just p*ss off too many travellers and as we don’t fly too often I try not to worry too much about it. We try and download a new film or game (*) to make that a bit of a special thing too. * There are some iPad games that are really quite lovely – I wrote about (on Babyccino) a few iPad kids books that I found really gave kids a new way to engage with classic stories (The Nosy Crow ones are great) and we enjoy the drawing and film making ‘games’ – for me these feel quite an interesting introduction into a new form of media that will be hugely more present in our kids lives then in ours. But as with anything I think they are better when I am participative – so I often sit with the kids to look at those things together and part of a bigger package of ways to look at the World. I think the story of your school trip is a shocker – especially the justification of some teachers from your school – I’d be up-in-arms. It is incredibly sad that kids stare at screens rather then ‘real’ culture. We also notice that screen-time has a really bad effect on some children more then others. For example if Elias has too much time in front of the telly he is hugely difficult afterwards whereas Lioba tends to moderate it herself – getting bored after a certain time and choosing to do something else. I have to admit it is a big subject in our house – how technology and (for me specifically) social media will effect our kids as they get older and we discuss how we want to really restrict these things for as long as we can – I really think social media is a complicated communication tool for children and teenagers – we see it with older nieces and nephews at the moment and it can be pretty strange … good to start the conversation here …


Rae
April 6, 2014

I think this post is pretty judgmental actually. I have a 2 year old and 4 year old, and if they begin to misbehave in a restaurant my husband and I each hand over our phones. It keeps them quiet for the rest of the meal and we don’t get dirty looks from other patrons. My 4 year old also enjoys playing sonic the hedgehog games on the phone. My husband remembers being a kid and enjoying the game – it’s been a way for them to bond. I’m unsure what you dislike about “normal TV” there are plenty of cute kids shows, many that are educational. Watching TV and playing on phones isn’t how our children spend a majority of their time, (and I wouldnt let them do it at a museum) but it’s a part of modern life, so maybe step of the high horse?


April 6, 2014

Sorry if my English isn’t perfect – I’m French 😉

While I agree 100% on what you said about our careless use of electronic devices, especially with our children, I am also guilty of letting reality taking over my principles. As they say: “before, I had principles, now I have children”.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I imagined his childhood being filled with books and “productive boredom” and field trips to the museum and imaginary plays and drawing sessions, and of course: a childhood as screen free as possible (we didn’t even own a T.V). I imagined my kid being a little version of myself as a child: calm and reflexive, more cerebral than physical. Then I had my son, a sunny, explosive and restless little boy who was exactly the opposite of what I had imagined. He was and still is the most impatient little being I know, even if we teach him patience, he can’t sit still at restaurants and after 5 minutes ends up running around and usually escapes to the kitchens, no matter how people (me, strangers, family, friends) explain to him he can’t do this. Books and arts supply? Keeps him occupied 10 minutes at the most, if you’re in luck.
I see some children – most children – being able to stay put and focus but some are just incapable of it. Am I jealous? Yes. Do I think I must have done something wrong because my kid can’t sit still at restaurants while yours can perfectly enjoy themselves by drawing on a napkin? Hell yes!
I had principles about T.V – no T.V before the age of 3 or 4, and even then, just the occasional movie on rainy Sundays. But sometimes, after a long and hard and exhausting day at work, I pick up my kid from pre-K and all I want – need – is 15 minutes to myself. Like going to the bathroom alone and maybe even brush my teeth or call my mom. Or cook diner and do a load of laundry. Things that are impossible to do if someone isn’t “babysitting” my son, babysitter being, in this case, Kirikou or Fireman Sam. I know my house can be flipped upside down – literally – in the matter of minutes if I trust an audio book to keep him entertained. Do I feel too tired to clean the dirt from the plants poured on the living room carpet? Yes. Guilty. Am I lazy? Yes, absolutely. Am I aware this is wrong? Yes, and that makes it even harder. Is it a slippery slope and a matter of months before my kid spends an hour each day watching Yo Gabba Gabba? Yup. I bet on it.
My son is just so physical, destructive and restless (not that it’s their fault) that I feel it’s unfair to compare the strength you need to refuse screen time. I know I must sound whinny… Maybe your children have the natural ability to focus on an activity, to listen, to be calm. What if you had a little tornado?
All in all, I absolutely agree with you, 100%. But sometimes I just can’t live up to that principle.


February 8, 2015

Hi Sara
Wanted to let you know that I have a ‘tornado’ at home too. Still no TV in our house (my child is very confused when we visit someone with TV and he sees adverts), I try to let him run wild for as long as I can and almost accepted the fact I will not have a child that will seat nicely and eat etc, but yes there are moments when I need that 5 minutes of peace or to eat to gain some energy to run after him again and those are the minutes he seats with iPad in hand watching a cartoon like Lost & Found or Alphablocks. I’m also to blame to use Skype (quick call to grandma who will read or sing a song or even play hide and seek) to be able to do something at home, like cooking food etc. I agree with the idea and would have been perfect, just there are moments when I just don’t have a choice and need to get his attention by watching a silly movie we created together on the phone for example… Moderation is a key. Good luck!
PS. Though I hope my child will not be visiting museum with phone or game console, just with camera to snap photos (in my dreams would be a drawing pad)!


_
April 6, 2014

I disagree slightly, or maybe see it a bit differently.

I think the problem with the school trip to the museum was not the electronics but the behaviour of the children and response by the teachers. If children aren’t engaging and bumping into people, it’s showing a kind of rudeness to the teachers and people around them – and that’s what’s wrong. For me it would still be wrong if the children, rather than playing computer games, had their head stuck in a book for example or were staring into space. Even if a child was reading Shakespeare on the way round, I wouldn’t think it’s ok for them to behave rudely and miss out on what sounds like a great school trip.

Similarly with electronics on the bus, it’s all about how the children use them. For example I remember walkmans, cd players etc on school journeys being a sociable thing, sharing music with friends, singing along, mostly badly! I am not saying electronics are always a good thing, but they are not necessarily bad either and I think it depends a lot on how they are used. The hard part is trying to teach that to children!


MA
April 16, 2014

I agree with this reply. The electronics in the museum/on the field trip is pretty awful! But my husband and I have come to realize that by saying no to electronics all the time, we are 1) being hypocritical because we are often on them and 2) placing all this mysterious importance on them, which I think can backfire as well. I suppose I fall into the “everything in moderation” camp.


Natalie
April 6, 2014

Thank you, Courtney for raising this important issue as a topic of conversation.

My son has recently started school in Sydney, Australia and something that amazes me is how much technology and television is used in the classroom.

Sometimes the teachers put on movies when it’s raining outside. I never watched any television or films when I was in primary school – and I lived in England, so rain, snow and inclement weather was part of our lives. We had to find ways to keep our minds and bodies busy indoors.

Also, as part of their learning they have to do programs such as Mathletics – which is an online form of learning. And now there is a class blog. These are just a few examples of how technology has crept into the school experience – in kindergarten.

He is 5.

My other daughters go to daycare a few days a week and ipads are used as “learning tools”. I’m also interested to read what scientific studies say about the so-called “benefits” of games/apps/technology as a learning device and from all I’ve read so far it seems there isn’t much benefit. It’s just repetitive action.

I think technology is an important part of our lives, and we must be smart and sensitive about how it is introduced and used in the lives of our children, but it does worry me how much is done as a knee-jerk reaction – particularly in learning environments.

For those interested in the effect on technology in children from birth to age 5 have a look at this book: http://brainrules.net/brain-rules-for-baby

Thanks again Courtney – and well done! x


Tracy
April 6, 2014

Very well said!
I immediately thought of this article when I read your post. Have you seen it? So inspirational!
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0


Sarah
April 7, 2014

Hi Courtney, I’m new to your blog! And I enjoyed reading your post because as a first time mom to a 5 month old boy, it’s too easy to reach for the ipad or turn the tv on to “entertain” him. I definitely would like to limit his exposure to screens as I too am a believer of imagination and creativity without the use of technology. Plus this article (http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/health-headlines/tablets-popular-with-children-but-some-worry-about-long-term-effects-1.1607992) is really interesting as it states that tablets are new and we really don’t know what their effects are on children’s development. And we won’t know for a long time. I think moderation is key but when they are older; in fact the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending NO screen time for those under 2 years old and to establish screen-free zones in the home.

It is a lot more work to engage in conversations, interactions with children (and babies!) but in the end, the children benefit from learning from their parents and end up developing a diverse vocabulary. (http://www.onlymyhealth.com/why-talking-to-babies-is-an-investment-worth-making-1396435591)

Thanks for a good and interesting read!


Karen
April 7, 2014

I am horrified that your school would allow electronic devices on any trip. Why bother go? They could have just googled it at school. Flippancy aside, I live very close to you and am pleased to say that not all state schools would allow this as inferred up thread. My children are not allowed anything electronic in school at any time, phones included. In my children’s primary school, trips are well thought out and children are partnered with someone who is a good influence to avoid arguments etc… I do think these devices can be useful, my eldest child uses youtube to help him further his music knowledge and enjoys games such as Minecraft and 4pics one word as well as Halo Reach 😉 which I don’t think are harmful but I do limit time on them. I would say that as they get older they do tend to not use them as much. My eldest is 12 and is at an age where he has interests that he can independently pursue. I think as a parent it is about finding balance, nothing wrong with these devices in moderation and in certain places but also introduce them to music, craft etc… the novelty of electronic devices wears off eventually.


Karen
April 7, 2014

Just wanted to add the reason my children aren’t allowed electronic devices in school is that it can cause disruption and arguments as not all of the children will have them. Also what if they break or get lost ? Strange attitude from your school. Not the time or place.


October 13, 2014

That’s true Karen.


Carly
April 7, 2014

I can’t say I *fully* agree. I do think the amount of time middle and high school children spend on their phones is horrifying, and it saddens me to see people out to dinner (grown ups, no less) at a table together staring at their screens. It’s those things that make you worry for society at large, really. But I also think that you painted a rosy, somewhat idealistic picture of what these situations would be like if technology was banned. Would most families be able to sit and have a happy chat with the little kids while they wait for dinner? Or maybe, unless it’s just me and mine, the toddler would be whining or banging her spoon on the table, or arguing with her five-year-old brother, while we whisper threats and pleas for good behavior. And the bus? Call the teachers lazy if you want, though I feel this is disrespectful to the amount of work they put in with the kids. And the nonsense kids get up to when they’re bored is often more of a headache than an exercise in creative thinking. (I seem to recall paper ball fights, bullying, spitballs, seat graffiti, and the generous use of expletives being part of my bus experience.) I get where you’re coming from, I just thought the issue was presented as a bit of a false dichotomy.

I see electronics as simply a tool; one of many which parents can keep in their pockets (literally!) for use when needed. Ideally I like to maximize my focused time with my little kids, to help them engage their minds with the environment they happen to be in, and to not rely on television or gaming as a babysitter. That being said, Life isn’t ideal. Waits at restaurants can be long and tedious (especially when everyone is hungry!), there are long-haul flights and 12-hour car trips, sick days, doctors’ office waits, and “the witching hour”, that special time just before dinner when it seems young children become tragic right when mums or dads need to be making the meal. In these time I use *all* the tools at my disposal, which depend largely on how energetic I feel, or how inspired I am, or what other things *must* be done at the same time. Sometimes it’s music, or Play-Doh, or doodling, or “I Spy”, and sometimes it’s “Charlie and Lola”. I’m not worried about the bits of time that my children spend watching a show or playing on the iPad, because I know it’s only a very small part of days filled with many, many other activities and play times and chats.

I tend to be more anti-screen time, though my software engineering husband tends to view technology and its place in modern life differently, and I think he has helped me to find a balance. Thoughtful use of electronics, even daily, and having healthy, curious, tuned-in, intelligent, engaged children are *not* mutually exclusive. Surely, as with most things in life, moderation is the key.

Do we worry about it so much because we didn’t grow up with ourselves and don’t feel like we know what the balance is or implications are? I don’t know, I’m still figuring it out. But obviously I felt strongly enough about it to chime in with my slightly different perspective on the topic! 🙂


Arabella
April 7, 2014

I agree Courtney, and your post has even made me think (again) about how easily I can turn the TV on to keep my kids quiet when I need some time to cook dinner or do my work. I agree that it dumbs down creativity. But I also think the same is true for adults. I spend way too much time on my phone when I am with my kids and in general. Sure, I’m not playing video games, but I think the amount of time I spend online also prevents me from being creative (and productive!) and it sets a bad example to my kids. This often worries me and every so often I will re-set some boundaries for myself, but somehow it always sneaks back in. I worry that I won’t have a leg to stand on when I try to prevent my kids using technology inappropriately or too much when they are a bit older. Any thoughts on how you manage this? Thanks for raising this, it’s such an important point.


Tamara
April 7, 2014

What surprises me is that teacher’s support the use of them to keep the kids quiet……blah……what a terrible excuse for lazy teaching. My children attend a high profile International school in Bahrain. During extreme weather conditions they watch TV for a playtime alternative. It disappoints me to so much that even in school they do this and it also surprises me that other parents do not feel frustrated by this.
On a side note we did let our 7 yr old son play ipad games on the weekend for an hour. It led to some really bad behaviour so he is now band for a year from all electronics. He is so much nicer without it. My only exception is long distance flights. Xxx


Steph
April 7, 2014

I thought a lot about this blog post as my family and I returned from visiting friends in the suburbs…their house exploding with toys. We were greeted by their son who had been on the ipad all afternoon because his parents had house chores to finish. We live in a much much smaller town house with far fewer toys and “things”…but far from minimalists.
I think my husband and I strike a fair balance with our two kids, longer journeys in the car (2+ hours — a recent drive from Vancouver to the Woodland Park zoo didn’t qualify!) can mean a short video, but only if really necessary. Our son is too busy counting cars and looking at farms. We are a little anxious about a road trip down the Oregon coast this summer but know that with enough breaks, singing and games of ball (my son started it one day on a car trip…passing us an imaginary ball), we can make it.
I think it’s also matter of language and we are so afraid of what if our kids are bored and we aren’t the cool parents. Do we regularly describe things as boring? Do we try and make the mundane interesting? Don’t get me wrong…this is hard…I”m a working mum too, and I’m tired too…but we’ve got to fight the backlash.
We also cut off our cable several years ago much to dismay of our provider who regularly tries to coerce us back to dark side…apparently it’s got great kids packages. Not sure where we’d fit tv in… this weekend looked like a museum, two birthday parties, swimming, church and two family dinner…we didn’t get to the library or get to the park either.
I also teach high school students with behavioral problems and the majority of them are majority technology addicts. I can recall a story of a family last week who told that their son ripped apart the house looking for tv remote so he could access his x-box. Previously he had called the police on his parents for a similar situation. But funnily enough the parents brought up that the student had told them that I had no cable…and I was still kinda cool.
Students of mine work for 40 mins max before twitching to play a game. I prohibited technology from the class during lunch…no computers/phones etc…and the class room emptied. The come in for food and hover in the hallway feeding their addiction.
So I say to you, Courtney, Bravo!


Jen
April 7, 2014

Hi Courtney,
I couldn’t agree with you more and am completely shocked that the teachers allow them to bring any technology on a school trip! How ludicrous! I work in a school and my class is currently preparing to go on their week long residential trip, they are NOT allowed to bring any technology at all. If they wish to take any photos of their trip they may bring along a disposable camera or a small inexpensive one with their parents understanding that it could get damaged or, hopefully not, lost. The point of the trip is to experience the activities on offer, spend a week doing things for themselves and most importantly working as a team which would be rather hard to do if they all had their faces stuck in iPhones, DS’s or iPads!
I have 2 children myself, a 9 year old girl and a boy who turns 12 this Wednesday. I have now and always will limit the amount of time they spend looking at a screen. Both children love to read, adore board games, making a mess and would much rather be traipsing about outdoors somewhere, although the last one is more difficult with the UK weather.
It was e-safety week at school a few weeks back and the kids had to fill out a Digi diary for a week. The results came in and I was shocked at the children’s usage, so many hours spent staring at a screen every single day! My daughters diary contained the entry ‘no technology used’ on 6 of the days and then a 25 minute play on Minecraft on the Sunday…I thought that was bad enough, lol, little did I know!
Thanks for sharing your opinion, it’s nice to know that we aren’t the only household who think technology can wait x x


Laura
April 7, 2014

I completely agree, my children are young, 3 and 19 months and when they were babies I made the conscious decision not to have electronic baby toys (garish flashing lights and annoying music) I just didn’t see the point of them. What happened to good old fashioned wooden blocks and soft toys?? Even at these ages a lot of their friends have leappads or ipad minis. My daughter has asked for one and I say no.
We will at times let her use our ipad if we are doing something fun and educational but try to keep this to a minimum. We try to consciously keep tv to a minimum because ive noticed when we has days were it’s rainy and it’s on for longer than usual my kids lose interest very quickly and it them becomes background noise, however we do watch a movie with my 203 year old every Friday, disney usually!! When we drive yo my inlaws which is 3 hours away we do resort to watching a DVD as screaming commences an hour in as they hate sitting still. 😉
I personally don’t want my kids yo have tvs in their rooms ever and no devices until high school, I don’t think that’s unreasonable. If they require a phone before that then it will be a basic phone for calling on.
As for schools, I think all devices should be banned, they are there to learn. Full stop!!
Good on you for voicing you opinions! X


Emily
April 7, 2014

I was so happy to read this post! I’m pregnant with my first baby so I’m still in the “planning stages” of being a parent but this is something I think about all the time. Not sure if you’ve seen this video but it was a huge wake up call for my own behavior with my iphone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OINa46HeWg8.


Gemma
April 7, 2014

I totally agree and am quite shocked. My kids have not been exposed to iPads or portable dvds. They play Lego, puzzles and draw. In the car we play eye spy and sing songs. The electronic age has increased obesity and its extremely anti social. Kids need to use their imagination which is so important. My daughter starts school next year in Aus she will not be getting an I phone until she can pay the bill. Cameras allowed on school trips are asking for bullying and humiliating photos to appear on social media. Great post Courtney.


florence
April 7, 2014

I really do understand your concern. And even though we sometimes allow our little girs to play with our tablet (with us), we try to limit the use as much as possible. Anyway, when my oldest girl (now 12) was in primary school (what’s the english word for that ?) in Paris and went on a fieldtrip or a journey with her school (state school, not private) they never ever let the kids take electronic devices ! And I’m so thankfull for that. I really do not understand why teachers allow such a thing !!
Thanks for sharing your views…
Florence


yannamm
April 7, 2014

We used to give preasents like this for my son – psp , camera.. Later I understand that it was mistake. My son watch TV , play computer games .I try to take control about that kind of activity.


April 7, 2014

[…] altijd fijne Babyccino duikt voor de verandering eens onder de oppervlakte met dit bericht over kinderen en electronica (en ik ben het helemaal met haar […]


Danielle Chisolm
April 7, 2014

Your post is right on! Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone.


Julie
April 7, 2014

Hi, What a shocking tale! While I do allow my children to play on electronic devices, the time is restricted. I find the idea of children playing on devices whilst on a school trip absolutely ridiculous and can only hope that this is not the case in most schools. My children attend the local state school (we live in London) and are in no way allowed to bring phones etc into school. The older kids have to drop their phone (if they have one) at reception in the morning and sign it out after school hours. You have every right to voice your opinion on this matter, why bother wasting school money on trips that are not appreciated.


April 7, 2014

I could not agree more with you. The more technology moves on (and I do have an iphone and like taking photos with it) the more I am aware how many of us see things “through an electronic device” by grown ups as much as children! I think a photo Martin Parr took, which is being exhibited at La Maison de la Photographie at the moment, of tourists taking photos of the Mona Lisa speaks volumes.
I am actually amazed that kids are allowed to take their Nintendos on a school outing. It is a really interesting topic and it is great to read all the comments!


Jen
April 7, 2014

I don’t think this issue is as black and white as you make out. We visited Bletchley Park this weekend, home of the codebreakers so extremely educational. My 3 older children 11, 8 and 7 were sceptical. We were given a tablet each to use as a guide. My children suddenly became engaged. The app contained info and puzzles relevant to Bletchley. My 11 year old who would not have read any of the info on the exhibits and would have moped was fully engaged and said he was glad he went. It is completely in the parents hands what apps you buy for your children. Assassins Creed is not free. You can choose, there are educational but fun apps out there like Brain Training. My eldest plays chess online regularly, this is great as I can’t play it and his siblings are not at his level. I think a blanket ban is as extreme as letting them play games whenever they want. I would be concerned if my son played chess for 5 hours straight. The same applies to tv. I love quiz shows. My eldest loves The Eggheads and The Chaser, what does it matter if he does a quiz via a book or tv/ipad ? When he was younger he watched Thomas the Tank Engine and Sponge Bob, he doesn’t even remember this! I do not watch Eastenders or Corrie so neither does he. He excels at sport, is doing well at school and has good manners. Some children will obviously want to play electronic games all day if given the chance but you are the parent, limit their time on it, you may go through a pain barrier but they soon learn. Electronics are not a recent phenomenon and neither is tv – Walkmans, Donkey Kong ??? Admittedly there was less choice in the 80’s as childrens tv was only on for a few hours but I remember watching it and then going outside to play or draw. I also grew up in an era when fizzy drinks and sweets were seen as ok. I think I grew up fine and think it the height of rudeness to even use a mobile in a restaurant and I am teaching my children this too. I think giving an iphone to a 4 year old in a restaurant is different to giving it to a 15 year old who should be at the stage where they can hold a conversation. Most restaurants give little ones crayons, are you under the illusion it is to turn them into the next Picasso ? It is to keep them quiet. You can draw on an ipad too , David Hockney did it, so what is the difference ? Snobbery ? The key is adult supervision and modera