The other day, I wrote a post about how I think technology can help when it comes to parenting. You can have a full read of the post here, but for those too lazy to click, I basically said that you have loads of information at your fingertips, it helps give you ideas (recipes, messy play etc), you have access to 24/7 entertainment, you can capture every moment and tech can be used for safety, e.g. monitoring.
Within that post, I said that I was going to write two posts – the first on the positives of technology and the second on the negatives of technology. Well, here is that second post – I bet you’ve been unable to sleep with excitement since – much like the excitement of when Toddler L gets to choose what she wants to watch on YouTube…
Before I became a dad, I used to watch good things on TV. Now it mainly consists of watching other people open surprise eggs.
— The DADventurer (@The_dadventurer) May 7, 2017
As a family, we use technology loads – there’s probably not much that we do which doesn’t involve tech in some way, shape or form. That’s why it was a very different experience the other month when we went on holiday to Devon and Cornwall with the knowledge that we wouldn’t be using anywhere near as much tech as usual. For instance, where we stayed had no TV, shit (AKA no) WiFi and very little phone signal, let alone 4G.
This was alien territory for us. As someone who shares his life on the internet, not being able to tweet, put a photo on Instagram or write a blog post was pretty weird. It’s crazy how many times you unknowingly reach for your phone out of habit – it’s not until you have no WiFi or 4G that you realise. I also noticed that certain tech has become routine for Toddler L. For instance, she’d ask to watch something like Peppa Pig when she woke up and chilled in our bed, just like at home. Obviously though, we didn’t have the means for her to watch it.
The good thing about no tech meant that we did focus on each other more. It sounds corny, but we talked more and we did things we haven’t done before – flying a kite, toasting marshmallows etc – as a way of finding different entertainment for Toddler L. Sure, after a full day, it would have been awesome for someone on TV to have babysat her for an hour before bed, but it was a nice change to minimise our technology usage. This obviously got me thinking about some of the negatives of tech when parenting.
The Negatives Of Technology When Parenting
For all of the positives associated with using technology, there’s always going to be downsides. The below are some of the things I’m concerned about when it comes to using technology so much when parenting:
- In a world where technology is so dominant, how will our kids be affected physically by a lifetime of technology? We’ve already seen childhood obesity being the result of reduced physical activity, with devices blamed for lack of outside play. But what about other things? Will there be injuries from using wearable and implanted tech, in a similar way that computers and phones have caused RSI injuries in our wrists, thumbs and necks? ‘Smart contact lenses’ blamed for blindness, perhaps?
- It’s not just physical though. How will a reliance on technology impact our kids from a mental perspective? For instance, kids don’t have to wait for anything these days – is this ‘on-demand’ culture going to result in a generation with a short attention span who are constantly distracted and increasingly demanding. I’m sure mine isn’t the only toddler who demands Peppa Pig be put on TV instantly and doesn’t understand why she can’t have something now. Remember when you had to watch whatever was on TV – including adverts? Kids don’t!
Is it called ‘on-demand’ TV because you spend your life switching between different shows that your toddler demands to watch every 5 mins?
— The DADventurer (@The_dadventurer) June 26, 2017
- Technology is massively distracting – I know that a notification usually has me scrambling for my phone, no matter what I’m doing. This obviously isn’t the greatest thing if I’m doing something with Toddler L – the focus should be on her, but technology often unfairly grabs my attention. It’s the same with kids – there’s plenty of times when Toddler L is playing, but something on TV grabs her attention and turns her into zombie-mode staring at the screen from inches away. Will distraction after distraction mean our kids just never get anything done?
- Something I’ve noticed over the years – and I’d imagine the next generations are going to too – is that we no longer need to retain information. I used to remember stuff, but now struggle – a prime example being that I knew all of my childhood friends’ phone numbers, but now don’t even know my landline. This could be old age, but I think it’s more down to the fact that we don’t need to retain information anymore, we only need to know how to find the information out, e.g. Google. Will Toddler L’s memory be pretty pathetic when compared to older generations as a result?
- Although technology allows us to capture memories, questions arise as to whether we record and share too much. Is no moment sacred anymore? Where is the line? Will the photo of Toddler L using her potty, the post about her crapping in the bath or any other to-be-captured ‘private’ situation act as a source of embarrassment in the future? Could this oversharing impact her time at school, her relationships or future employment? Will our kids hate us for sharing personal things on the internet that they didn’t agree to? Who knows?
- All technology is hackable and open to abuse, so does a reliance on tech open us up to unnecessary danger? For instance, photos of our kids can be stolen from the cloud and repurposed for other unsavoury things. Viruses / malware can collect our personal information and be used for identify theft, fraud or even locating us. Hell, according to Black Mirror, robotic bees can even be hacked and used to kill people. Is an increasingly online life opening our families up to all manner of abuse?
So those are some of the things I’m concerned about when it comes to technology and our kids. Are you worried about these? Are there any other negatives of tech when it comes to parenting? Let me know below!