Search This Blog

Monday, May 23, 2011

How Technology has Influenced Our Parenting (By Anshu Basnyat, LCPC)

    Everywhere you turn, someone is talking about the latest and the greatest technology that are available today.  Whether it is the iPad2, gaming systems like the Wii, smart phones, or social networking sites like Facebook, we are constantly bombarded with advanced technology. Furthermore, our children navigate them like a toy.  I am not tech savvy, but my husband and 6 year old son have a natural knack for it.  So, when the two of them teamed up and convinced me that we absolutely needed the Wii in our home to exercise and play educational kids’ games,  it got me thinking…how has today’s technology influenced our parenting?
    The approach I was taking about technology and parenting was that it is one more thing I have to monitor and worry about.  My fear was that our son will become a couch potato who embraces a sedentary lifestyle and the kind of things he would be exposed to just created anxiety in me.  According to our son, his teacher stated that he is the first kid she knew who did not have a video game.  When I responded that he has a Leapster, he basically told me that it does not count and he started naming the gaming systems  like the Wii, Xbox/Kinect, etc. that are out there today.  This gave me more energy to stick to my guns.
    Well, I lost this fight a week ago when my neighbor shared with me how her mother never exercised until she bought the Wii Fit.  As soon as I left my neighbor’s house, my husband called and said someone is selling the Wii Fit at work and whether we should buy it. I succumbed to the coincidental “signs” and gave him the go ahead.  I mean, if a Higher Being wants us to have the Wii Fit then maybe we should get the Wii Fit.  A week ago, I surrendered and my approach to technology and parenting changed.  It went from not wanting it to be one more thing I had to worry about in parenting to I now have one more thing I can use as leverage when parenting.  So, the Wii now goes on a long list of things I can take away when disciplining our son. If used wisely, technology can be a beautiful thing in parenting.
    Now, onto the specifics of how technology has influenced our parenting.  To get a better understanding of where I am coming from, let me first share three values I hold dearly when it comes to technology and parenting.  First, we do not want our young children being exposed to inappropriate content (violence, drugs, sex, and other adult content).  There is a plethora of research to support how such exposure can negatively impact children’s physical and psychological well-being.  The second value that is important to us is that we want our children to be active and enjoy the outdoors as well as stay intellectually stimulated. 
    Lastly, we want our children to learn to delay gratification and learn that patience is a virtue.  This last concept has gotten lot of press lately because of the Millennium generation entering the workforce with a sense of entitlement and wanting their wishes granted immediately.  Growing up with on-demand and dvr features on our tv/cable system, in addition to other advanced technology and coddling parents, I’m sure did not help the matter. We have combatted this in our home by limiting access to on-demand/dvr features only on the weekends.  We have also set limits on how much and what our kids are exposed to in the technological era.  Using the rating codes on television programs and video games have been helpful. It seems to be a good balance of utilizing technology wisely without being consumed by it. So, how has technology influenced your parenting?  


  1. TV is the biggest technology my kids use, but usually not more than an hour a day (average, but usaully way less on a school day) And sometimes daddy feels its his tv and will watch his shows (the simpsons, or the start of house or bones) without regard to what the kids are seeing on tv. And in those cases we are with the kids, so can explain anything they see on the tv. There was one issue with the tv, where my son accidentally ordered a movie. We have since learned how to lock ALL pay per view movies.
    As for other technology, the first gaming system my kids used was the Vtech. The games were educational and the controllers were big and easy to use. They have since graduated to Vtech pockets (or whatever they call the hand held version) that they use in the car. Still don't feel guilty for the amount of time on these as the kids have learned how to add and subtract and spell words with these games.
    My son though is addicted to the Wii. He would play for HOURS if we let him. There was one time at my parents house, the adults were busy doing something (maybe a mary kay type party) and Alex was in the other room playing Wii, and for 3 hours he was quiet and we forgot about him. I felt bad he played that long and I forgot he was out there! Alex will ask to play the Wii almost every day. But we limit the amount of time he plays. So he usually only gets to play once or twice a week.
    Their other favorite thing is playing on the computer (usually Dinseyxd) but they haven't figured out how to load a website themselves and can't load any computer without an adult knowing (since they are all password protected!).
    We encourage a lot more out door playing, reading, playing games with his sister, building with legos, or playdough. I say we've done a good job balancing it all out since he is doing very well in school and is above grade level in reading for Kindergarten!
    (On a side note, my daughter is less addicted to video games, but I believe it is partly because she has no coordination with the controller)

  2. C: Thank you for sharing your experiences. I completely agree with you that we need to balance how much technology we expose to our kids. On one hand, they need it to compete with a very competitive world. On the other hand, we need to encourage outdoor and imaginative play to cultivate physical and intellectual development. Like many things in life, balance is key but not always easy to achieve!