To Tech or Not to Tech?

So as parents I’m sure we have all come across this issue at some point in time: Whether or not babies and children should be introduced to technology or not.
Photo on 2-6-2014 at 6.33 PM #3

he always makes these faces when he’s facetimeing with family! silly boy

*** Just let me say that in this post, this is strictly my view on the subject, and in no way shape or form do I mean to influence anyone’s parenting. Personally, I do not care whether or not you are for it or against it. My opinion is based on a “you do what’s best for your family” basis. Unfortunately not everyone feels the same… and this post is going to address those who feel the need to judge my family and others.***

OK where to start.

Today we live in a society that is driven by technology. It is virtually impossible to get away from it. Come on, who doesn’t have a computer or cell phone? Now the big question is, should kids be introduced to technology at a young age? You can go on the Internet and read hundreds of studies that are either for the use of technology or against it, but what it comes down to is your personal preference. Like I said before, in today’s society technology is everywhere, and a fact is that sooner or later our children will need to know how to use it.

For me, as a parent I absolutely have no issue with it. My son Marshall was drawn to it as soon as he could see well enough. It was mainly my iPhone at first. It was something he just held while I played music on it with soft little pictures dancing around. It worked like a charm. I’m sure I’m not the only parent in the world who has tried everything to calm their little one, to no avail. Then simply he quiets as I pick up my phone to Google “how to get my baby to stop crying” (we’ve all been there, be honest.) So there began his love affair with technology. Now it’s not like I sit Marshall down in front of my phone or the TV with silly shows 24 hours a day. In fact, not even 2 hours a day.

I’ve talked about it in a previous post, but really all Marshall watches is one or two of the following shows on a good day.

Handy Manny—>

Handy Manny

Handy Manny On Disney Junior

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Jake and the Neverland Pirates
Wheel or Fortune
Jeopardy.

I approved of all these shows because there not just pointless kids shows. They actually are interactive and encourage learning in a fun and entertaining way (and they don’t drive me completely insane).

Now the last two might seem a little strange. I know Marshall doesn’t understand the point of the game shows whatsoever, but it is just something we’ve watched as a family every night after the news. I’ve done it since I was a child.

The best thing about Wheel of Fortune is it’s teaching Marshall the alphabet. He’s watched and/or listened to this show since he was born, and something has sunk in. Marshall currently will call out letters with the contestants. Now they’re the same few letters, but he really is learning. It makes me smile to listen to him go “eee,” “beee,” “cee,” “dee,” “i,” “a,” and “ooo.” It’s adorable. 

please watch mickey while mom sleeps in...

please watch mickey while mom sleeps in…

Ok, I’ll be the first to admit: we sometimes have super bad days. You know those days where you just want to hide in bed and never come out. Those are usually the days where Marshall just does not want to sleep and throws his nuclear level tantrums (which seem to be happening a lot lately… hello terrible twos…), decides to strip and paint… like, really! I don’t know why but boys seem to be very curious with their poop… so gross. So you know those lovely “I want to rip my hair out and scream” days… After the massive clean up and hours trying to get him to go to bed so I can sleep 5 more minutes, I just give up and put on a movie or a show. In my opinion, it calms him and there’s no harm in it. It’s not like it’s for hours on end, every single day.

 The same goes for my phone. I let Marshall play with it usually to distract him, especially when we’re out and he’s starting to get fussy.  And then, my friends, is when we get the lovely judgmental comments.
“What lazy parenting.”
“People shouldn’t have kids if they’re going to be lazy.”
“Back in my day we didn’t need things to parent for us.”
“I’d never let my kid play with that!”

And my ultimate favourite comment:
“Marshall’s going to grow up stupid because technology makes babies dumb…”

Ok, now my reaction to all those.

I don’t really care what you think. It doesn’t mean those comments are not hurtful, they are, but they obviously don’t know me well or what goes on in my family the rest of the day and in our home.

To all you “nay-sayers” of my parenting, by the time Marshall was 7 months old he started speaking and never stopped. Statistics show that boys tend to develop slower than girls, not my little man. Marshall is now 17 months old and he literally is never quiet. I can literally sit here and name everything he can say… so guess what I will!

Mamma
Dada
Nana
papa
kitty
puppy
ball
circle
blue
purple
cookie
yummy
drink (though he’s still working on that one)
okay
vroom vroom
baby
Mickey
Donald (again that one’s a work in progress)
Elmo

He can say a, b, c, d, e, i, and o.
I’m sure there’s more but I’m starting to brag…

***ALL THANKS TO TECHNOLOGY***
Technology isn’t just something I use so I can get a break. Yes, on occasion it is so I can have two minutes peace and quiet. However, what a lot of people don’t bother to stop and think about is that I can’t simply just point things out to Marshall and teach him. I can’t grab any book from a store or off the shelf and read it to him. So I use technology as an aid, because there are hundreds of apps and interactive books that we can experience together. It helps me teach him. In my opinion, it’s not a hindrance to a child, depending how you use it.

My husband and I have never talked to Marshall like a child. Yes, we’ve used the baby voice and everything, but we use “big words” and talk to him no differently then we would talk to another adult. I also think that has helped him learn because he has had to learn to understand what things mean by using context. We let him learn at his own pace, but it seems that he soaks it all up, which is such a blessing. We were even told after our most recent doctor’s check up that Marshall is actually very smart. Now of course I’m going to brag about my kid, what parent wouldn’t? But honestly Marshall has been evaluated to have the cognitive ability of a 2+ year old. Our doctor was extremely impressed and asked what our magic trick was. I simply told her we don’t really have one. We’ve just tried everything and use what Marshall seems to enjoy best – and for us it’s been technology.

I use to have very judgmental people in my life that pretended to be friends. They would constantly look down on and criticize every parenting decision my husband and I made. It really bothered me that they could not see past themselves long enough to realize that every family has their own needs and strategies for dealing with those needs. The only thing I would say to them is: You do what’s best for you and your family; I will do what’s best for mine. I wish everyone would do the same. We all need to think instead of judging what you see for all of 5 seconds. Stop and think before you say things or post things. (Even I stopped to think before posting this blog post!)

It’s true, we live in a tech driven world now and anything you want is a click away. So I say to these people: Watch what you say/type, because in this world you can’t really “delete, undo” things once it’s out there. Once it’s been read it cannot be unread, and your words can really influence others’ feelings whether you “intend” for them to or not.

ANYWAYS. I don’t really know if this picked one side or another. Basically all I am trying to say is: Don’t judge a book by its cover and maybe if you find that your child isn’t advancing the way you’d like, try something different. We all learn at our own pace, but with today’s society we have more out there to help us. What works for us may not work for you, only you and your family will know what’s best.

Practising those phone skills

                                ”  HI! DADA? ok ok ok ok. by elmo .MICKEEEEY! byebye
okokok hi mama.”
(excerpt from marshalls conversation on his phone)

Until next time.
Courtney

 

 

 

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Category: Arts/Entertainment, Babies & Toddlers, Education, Family, Living, Tech

About the Author ()

A number of years ago I went blind, and as a result found out I had Multiple Sclerosis. After my diagnosis, I attended a new high school for the visually impaired. That is where I met the love of my life, my husband Dylan. Dylan helped me get through becoming blind and find joy in life again. Shortly after graduating, we moved to Ottawa together and in December of 2011, we were married. A year later we welcomed our beautiful son Marshall to the world. In 2015, after two miscarriages we welcomed our beautiful rainbow baby Charlotte into the world. It hasn't been easy adjusting to being blind and living with M.S on a daily basis , and being a mom of two on top of everything. Life has been... lets say challenging! But oh so worth it!

Comments (8)

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  1. Stephanie LaPlante says:

    I see both pros and cons…but mostly pros lol.

  2. Rick F says:

    Interesting.

  3. Victoria Ess says:

    I love that you wrote this post. When you break it down like that, in a way it isn’t an issue of the use of the technology itself, but all the assumptions that people make based on that (e.g. lazy parenting). I think that if people DID refrain from making snap judgments, that would allow for a more useful discussion around the implications of technology for children.

  4. Robyn says:

    The person who knows your son best is you. The person who knows how to parent your son best is you. End of story.

    For me, my 14-month-old gets a little screen time, but not much. When she’s playing with her toy farm animals, for example, I’ll sometimes bring up a YouTube video of sheep, or cows, or something, to show her what they do and what they sound like. She’s usually as interested at looking at her reflection in my cellphone’s screen as she is watching a video or playing a game. That’s what works for us.

    Marshall is happy, healthy, and clever, so you’re obviously doing it right for him. 🙂

  5. Brenda A says:

    Give yourself more credit! Your boy excels at many things, but to say “all thanks to technology” is totally skewed. It is a terrible assumption. I wonder how much further his obviously bright mind would soar if the time he spent in front of a screen was spent with other people (or a card board box, or a ukulele). Just a thought.

  6. beyond seeing with courtney says:

    oh he’s spends lots of time without TV or media, and lots of time outside with other kids. he loves other children and the park. actualy our favorite thing right now is colouring and just playing with blocks. I don’t use media all the time but what I was tryin to say was it is a big help in our home

  7. kathy downey says:

    Thanks,this was a very interesting read

  8. Debbie White Beattie says:

    The only thing that worries me is from a medical point of view because there’s no way not to see all the damage that tech has done not only to kids but all of us. Kids start so young and their posture is awful from hunching over their screens and our vision is severely affected which the doctors have said how all of it will have terrible consequences in the future. My nephew was so into his video games that he now has anxiety when having to be around people and deal with reality. So it’s the medical that really worries me about kids getting tech too early !

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