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Technology Guilt?

By: DEBBIE MULLEN

Tuesday 07 November 2017

Next week is Science Week. When we think of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, the issue of Technology and the related screen time can be emotive. Debbie Mullen considers this from a parent perspective.

When your child discovers your phone or tablet, should you feel guilty about letting them use it? This is a popular conversation among my friends and a lot of the time it is in a negative way. Parents are not sure if it is ok for their children to use this technology. I thought my son, at nine years, was a good age to get a Nintendo Xbox to play with. Then my twin boys came along and everything changed. I would leave down my phone and immediately one or both would take it to try use it. I have a habit of walking around while talking on the mobile so the boys would imitate me with a phone stuck to their ear as they walked and talked around and around. I found this funny and playful. The boys are experts on the Xbox, the Wii and looking at games being played on YouTube. They know they need and remember the passwords for most of my devices. They inform me how to do things on my phone and offer me advice on solving my technology issues. Their life is consumed by when and for how long they can play on the Xbox, phone or Wii.

My boys are also great at imaginative play, playing with Lego and cars, playing with their friends, they are outdoors daily, climb trees, love bedtime stories, laugh and giggle. However, the biggest arguments in our house relates to the use of technology. I feel I need to limit their use, even though I have not researched why I need to do this. In today’s world, how can you keep children away from technology as we see the use and impact of it in our world. Are we not preparing them for this world? How can we not feel guilty every time they use it? Younger children are becoming more familiar with all sorts of technology like Skype, Snapchat, Facetime, Instagram and What’s App.

When we were young, our parents did not need to make these decisions as tablets and mobile phones were not around. They still had decisions to make about screen time…for example how much and what TV we could watch, how long we were using the phone (landline) and what time we had to come in at night from playing in the street. Until we know more, we can only follow our own parenting instincts. Technology should never replace any traditional play like playing outside, playing games, playing with friends so maybe this is the reason we limit their use if this is not happening.

I asked my 9-year-old what is his favourite, playing with Lego or building a world in Minecraft. He first said that this was a hard question as he likes playing with both but if he had to choose it would be Minecraft as he can make his world come alive and have all the blocks he will ever need. He said he will never stop playing with both. There are now summer iPad Lego clubs which bring your Lego to life through animation and videos. It is one of my goals in life to always keep up to date with technology and be a step ahead so I can share experiences and empower my boys to stay safe and make the right choices and decisions.

 

Have a look at our previous STEM related posts here:

Early Years Educators supporting scientific enquiry with young children

Builders of the Future

Playfully becoming the Mathematicians of tomorrow

Valentine’s Day – Sowing The Seeds of Love

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