I have some really great memories growing up as a child. Many of my memories consist of me riding bikes or playing outside with the neighborhood kids, and many times doing so until the sun went down and our parents were shouting for us to come inside. However, I also have fond memories of my brother and I playing nintendo games and computer games (you remember the gorilla game where you typed in a certain degree to see if his boomerang, or whatever it was, would make it to the other side?) together. It seemed like a perfect balance.
As a mom, a teacher, and a technology lover, I am finding it hard to create that balance. The balance of letting my child play with things that require no electricity, while at the same time exposing her to all of the great technology we have at our fingertips! I want her to have those great experiences and memories outside playing 'ghost in the graveyard' with flashlights, making crafts, having tea with her stuffed animals, etc. However, in our current world, I am realizing that it is harder than I thought to try and keep her away from the electronics.
My daughter is 15 months old and LOVES Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She also loves to be outside... AND... she also LOVES any handheld device that she can touch and swipe. At 15 months old, she can already manipulate an iPhone with an ease that surprises me.
So if she loves to be outside, what's the problem, right? Just take her outside and play with her. That is what we do. HOWEVER, in almost every single Americans' possession today is a phone, and most likely, it's a Smartphone. Well, I am one of those Americans. I take it outside with us because we have no house phone. It is of upmost importance that I hide this phone at all costs while we are outside, because if she sees it, our outside playing then becomes a tug of war between the two of us and the phone.
I am a huge advocate of technology and I think that all children should be exposed to it because it will become their life in the future. We will not be going backwards with technology so it is important that children are familiar and comfortable with all aspects of technology to help them be successful in any future career to which they aspire. However, I think there is also something to be said for being able to connect with the world outside of technology. Children need to develop social skills, and build self esteem through human interactions. These types of things can only be done by engaging in face to face conversations. For example, playing sports or being a part of a team is a great way to build both social skills and self esteem. There has to be a healthy balance. Even if a child loves technology- they could go out and become a member of some sort of technology team. This way they are building their social skills, while still doing something they enjoy. A healthy balance.
So, does my daughter have a healthy balance at the age of 15 months? I like to think so. We do a lot of different playdates, and she will begin a program in the fall for half a day twice a week. However, this will continue to be an inner battle for me. Am I giving her a healthy balance?