As my five-year-old stepson becomes more technologically literate, has more access and is interested by more and more technology, my husband and I have been faced with a question: how much is too much? Conversely, how little is too little?
My husband and I use technology regularly (and are quite technologically savvy) both in our personal and professional lives. He just earned his degree in photography (which is inextricably linked with technology), and I begin graduate school for Library Science in the fall, in which a substantial portion of my coursework will either depend upon or strictly cover technology (information systems, user interface & experience design, etc.). In my work life I have also depended upon technology and my competence with it to get and keep jobs.
Because of the positives we associate with technology, we want to be sure we allow my stepson and our future children to have the freedom with it that we did when we were younger, however we also want our children to be able to survive without technology and see the wonder in the natural world.
We feel we have struck a great balance, with weekly trips to parks, the zoo, the lake, and other outdoor destinations, and a time for television and games (whether on the computer, a system such as the PS3, or a handheld device like the DSi) when indoors. Family time always comes first, but if we have down time we generally allow my stepson to make his own personal entertainment choice: a book, television, DS, computer, his extensive train set or something else from his toy arsenal.
So – where do you (if you have children) or will you (if you are thinking of starting a family) draw the line? What games or gaming platforms are good, useful or tolerable, and what can a child do without (v-tech, pspplaystation, leapfrog, wiids, x-box, etc.)? Should there be a defined amount of ‘tech’ time per day or week, or does it just depend on circumstances (weather, family plans and so on)?
There is no right or wrong answer and I am sure that each family will have their own strategy. If you have thought about this issue as a family, however I am sure you are on the right track. Here is to hoping that we all raise technologically competent, compassionate and lovely adults!