We see lots of headlines these days about fostering healthy relationships between kids and technology. My son is not yet old enough for devices of his own, which might make it seem like we’ve got it easy, but the reality is we still have our share of technology-related issues in our household. And by “our household,” I mean “between me and my own devices.” With the watchful eyes of a two-year-old rarely more than a few steps away, I’ve come to realize that I need to manage my relationships with technology, instead of letting them manage me.
Here on the footsteps of New Year’s, I’m exploring ways to revisit this predicament under the guise of setting some resolutions. However, past attempts have shown that whatever I pledge to change is probably going to be harder than I think. In fact, some of these tech-related resolution ideas are borderline impossible. And so, may I present a collection of resolutions that parents wish we could keep, alongside some realistic suggestions of what may actually work.
1. No Texting When Kiddo's In The Room
With family, friends and colleagues spread out around the world, I’m guilty of reacting to every blip, buzz, and beep from my phone. Texts and emails are pretty much the only notifications I use, but still... my son is starting to notice.
I know myself well enough to recognize that trying to give up completely would be fruitless, but that doesn’t mean I should let each email from my bank, each GIF sent via group text, or each e-newsletter, interrupt a play session.
The realistic resolution: Configure my phone so that it notifies me about messages from certain people only at certain times of day, to give me more quality time with my son.
2. Stop Buying Everything Online; Shop Locally Once In A While
I offer to all parents who came before the advent of big-name retailers with two-day shipping (as well as those who don’t have access to this technology) my humble and genuine respect. There’s a nearly nostalgic feeling attached to the idea of going to the store to pick out whatever it is I need. Perhaps I’d stop to say hi to a neighbor, or sample something local, or skim a few headlines in the checkout line. It sounds lovely, but I just can’t give up the ease and convenience of not having to do all that, and getting the same results by simply clicking my mouse.
The realistic resolution: Order from small business online whenever possible--the best of both worlds.
3. Do Not Rely On The TV To Entertain My Young Child
As I write this, my son is enjoying some (educational, age-appropriate) kids programming next to me. Giving him TV time isn’t my favorite thing, but we’ve found ways that it works for our family. We like to stay with him while the TV is on, ask him questions about what he’s seeing, and engage with him about it (if that means dancing along to whatever cartoon song is being sung, then so be it).
TV's a part of our routine in some ways, and it serves as a transition to help him wind down in between dinner and bath time.
The realistic resolution: I don’t see us becoming a "no TV" family any time soon, but staying mindful about how and when and why we’re letting our son consume media is a good start, as is following a set number of allocated minutes or shows each day.
4. Always Keep The Baby Monitor (And Other Necessary Items) Charged
What would life be like if every time you needed something with batteries, it was fully charged? I can barely picture such a paradise. Still, despite our best efforts, I fully expect there to be days when the monitor, or my phone, or my son’s favorite toys, are simply out of juice.
The realistic resolution: Make an effort to keep extra batteries on hand, and don’t hesitate to just grab the charger (without grumbling).
5. Do Not Allow My Son To Use My Phone
Currently, my son’s favorite use of his dad’s or of my phone is to scroll through family photos, or to peruse baby animal pictures. Sure, there are far worse things he could be doing on a smart phone, but these aren’t really habits we want to encourage.
Every swipe, skim, or scan gets him closer and closer to tech-savviness, and he’s only two. However, there’s a fine line between striking a healthy balance between kids and technology, and limiting his potential comfort with it.
The realistic resolution: Set crystal-clear boundaries between our son and our phones, and enforce them.
6. Don't Fall Into The Rabbit Hole Of Social Media When I Can Hear My Family Playing In The Other Room
Perhaps fellow grown-ups who have more self-control than I do might think this one is silly. However, the endless scroll is an endless problem for some of us. On a personal note, I tend not to suffer from fomo, or fear of missing out, when it comes to IRL gatherings, but when it comes to news and updates, I can’t help but want to absorb everything. Plus, wIth a job that takes place mostly online, letting go over social media completely isn’t a possibility.
The realistic resolution: Set a timer when it comes to indulging.
7. Keep Space Clear On My Phone (So I'm Never Stuck While Trying To Take Video Of My Son Doing Something Cute)
Do I really need all those extra apps, taking up space? Do I really need to keep twelve months of photos on my phone at all times? Do I really need all my favorite songs at my finger tips, at all times? Of course not.
The realistic resolution: Really, there are no excuses. I just need to make more of an effort to backup photos and clear space on my phone on a regular basis, since the last thing any of us want is that error message of doom during any important milestone.
Main image: Pixabay/LuidmilaKot