There’s no denying that modern life has led to the here and now; a world where everyone (or almost everyone) is plugged in. Computers, laptops, cell phone and tablets are seen and used everywhere with a very small demographic remaining who have either never laid hands on one of those or never will. Our children are no different, with modern life making it almost impossible for someone to raise a child without the use of electronic devices. One good example I can provide is when my son start second grade and his school demanded that we provide him with a device to do his homework on. This blew my mind and I immediately opposed it, as it’s one thing to pay for supplies that are needed but entirely another when you’re expected to buy them an expensive electronic device just to do homework.
My opposition was not well-received, as I was told that any device could be used, including my own cell phone. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m not a fan of providing my personal cell to anyone. Beyond the fact that I use it myself as my personal phone line, there’s also my email access, games, alarm, scheduler and social media. My phone is my phone, purchased with my own money for my own purposes. The presumption of being told I can simply hand it off to anyone else is ludicrous to me. But here we are. I ended up giving my son one of the older version cell phones I had, since I never turn them in. He now uses this not only for his school apps but for a few simple games and some streaming services as well. This is combination with the Nintendo Switch we bought him last summer to keep him occupied on our trip out East.
The issue is that my children are fast-becoming people who can’t live without these devices. As a result, my 8-year old, who should be outside, running, playing, climbing and riding a bike, spends his down time on his back or lying on his stomach, watching Netflix Kids and Disney+, playing Minecraft and unfortunately binge-watching Minecraft videos on YouTube. The unfortunate byproduct of this standard is that Nathan is becoming a bit of a lazy shit. Gets home from school, drops his shit and grabs his devices. Wakes up in the morning, walks himself out of the bedroom and grabs his devices. All weekend, stays on his devices. Drives me absolutely batty!
I grew up on the Northern shores of New Brunswick, where I spent my down time in the forests, swimming in brooks and playing outside. I put so many kilometres on my bike that I usually ended up needing a new one every couple of years. Maybe that had something to do with my growth, though. My point is, we’ve been trying to get Nathan more physically involved with the everyday life outside the house. Considering we have some pretty nice weather on occasion, our new standard has been that if he wants his device, he needs to spend an hour outdoors, first. Not if there’s a snow storm or bad weather, obviously. But in general and overall.
Our idea has also been poorly received. Considering that yesterday morning, I was able to sleep in quite late (pretty bad that between 9 and 10 am is now considered late) before my toddler woke me by scaring the living shit out of me, I didn’t start out my Saturday on the best note. But I made it clear to Nathan that he was getting no screens until he spent an hour outdoors. In true, teenage form, he decided it was a better and easier option to curl up in a blanket and sulk than just go outside. It was -3 degrees. That’s almost cut-off jean shorts weather. Never mind the fact that the time he used to sulk about not getting his screens, he could have easily burned through an hour outside.
Look, I get it… It’s 2023 and everyone and everything is tethered to the electronic frontier. There’s no living completely device-free because no matter how you live, you’ll eventually need technology in some given way, shape or form. I just don’t want technology being the only way my children experience life. Ultimately, he conceded and went outside. Although I don’t like that it turned into a negotiation, at least I got him outside. I think it’s one of those scenarios where the parent gets to say, “Someday you’ll thank me…” ☯️