I’m upfront here about my wish to install in my own child a very low tech childhood. Yes I do let him use the computer once a day on school holidays to play computer games for an hour, or research his favourite television shows – under supervision. But he doesn’t have access to a smart phone, an Ipad or any of the other devices that a lot of other children his age appear to have. (We have a PS2 but that’s rarely used too).
We’re the rare family, who when we go out, we all sit together and talk. No one has a screen at the table, and I don’t babysit my child with a screen. We do have a take away bag filled with drawing paper, pens, textas, crayons, and books to read. So if he does finish early and wants to draw, then we do let him – it gives us that extra few minutes to catch up with him, and finish our meal.
However I look around and see the number of children propped in front of a screen – the parent sits immersed in their digital world and the children each have a screen each. There is no or limited conversation going on. I wonder if they perform this ritual in their own homes and if so how much of the quality face time they give each other. (Or is updating their twitter or facebook posts that important?).
We’ve also read to our child since he was born. Passing to him the greatest opportunity ever – the written word. He thrilled me last year when I walked passed his room and he was sitting on his bed with a book in his hands devouring the pages. This to me was hitting the goldmine.
Call me old fashioned but the book is the ultimate entertainment device. It needs no electricity, no batteries, but it fuels the imagination like nothing else. Transporting you to ancient worlds or far flung universes – it will take you where you want and back again.
I also feel that the jury is still out about what happens when we expose young brains to the high tech devices too early. I want to raise a child who can use his imagination when he’s bored, to pick up a book, play in the sandpit, chase the dog, to transport himself into his imagination. Not be fed worlds to him by a screen. So far my son seems to be enjoying the fact he can entertain himself, and the children who approach our table when we’re out eating, attracted by the child who sits drawing elaborate worlds, who ask if they can draw please, reinforce my belief that we’re on the right track.