I’ve worked hard to be deliberate about technology with my child. Screen time has been discouraged and playing outdoors encouraged. My child has had a Leap Pad since he was a toddler that does not connect to the Internet—and has been his main interaction with tech and a source for hours of play.
During these years I’v spent a lot of time talking about feelings and reading books. My house is cluttered with paper, markers, LEGOs, blocks and puzzles. I’m certainly not perfect—my kid has certainly watched way too much Pokemon—but I’ve done my best to keep a tech-less and play-full early childhood.
The research supports this social play, and it can be accomplished through technology, but done better through face to face interaction.
But now my child has started Kindergarten. And I’m realizing that what I thought was hard, is going to get harder.
As soon as your child starts walking, they start walking away. And it’s a beautiful, wonderful, terrifying thing.
Parents have a huge influence on their children, but the influence wanes in outside settings. And some of the influences that concern me are ones from tech companies who may not care about personal privacy, the draw of online games at the expense of outdoor games, or messages online that my child is not enough.
I’m certainly no hovering parent— the jumbled mess of toys in my living room and my kid’s many playground scrapes attest to that—but as I saw my child walk away into that Kindergarten class I felt a lump in my throat.
Being a digital parenting is not a sprint, but a grueling marathon. I have work ahead of me. Along with talks about feelings will need to be more talks about how to appropriately communicate those feelings. I will need to navigate the increased influence of video games among blocks and LEGOs.
While I know I haven’t been perfect, I know I’ve done my best to model positive behavior around technology. I look forward to the next leg of this big, long race—with some misty eyes.