Like most expectant mothers I was hell-bent on never letting anything remotely dangerous, non-organic and that hadn’t been tested and certified by at least two independent labs in Switzerland get within ten feet of my precious little boys. I’m obviously not going to bore you with details of all the things I once said I’d never do and now do daily; because we’re all guilty of the same thing, right?
One of the things that didn’t make my red alert list was technology. I honestly never really thought about it being a bad thing (probably after having worked in online media for years). And we all remember getting our hands on that first iPad… but as a lucky mama of two healthy and very active – paediatric code for ‘insane’- little boys, managing TV, iPads and Smart Phones started to concern me.
I think that my generation, born in the 70s (and no, I’m not going to tell you which year!), believes too much in technology being ‘our friendly little helper’. We can order our flights online, Skype with our parents or that special someone and listen to any music we want at the press of an icon. All good, right? Well, I’m wondering how equipped we as parents are to guide our kids when it comes to good and bad technology. Or rather, whether we use it in a good or a bad way. And whether it’s actually assisting with brain development or rather turning all that grey matter to mush and causing all sorts of behavioural issues. Uh huh mamas, we are all desperately looking for someone in Switzerland to give us a list with columns of pros and cons!
I’m not firmly sitting in either camp, but the idea of challenging kids to think for themselves does sound like the right thing to do, don’t you think? And so this mama set out on an experiment of unplugging her little rascals for 10 days. And here is how it all went down…
The Experiment Begins
A typical day in our house starts with brekkie, followed by us trying to make the kids look somewhat presentable before setting off for school. No TV in the kitchen or anything like that, we are Scandinavian after all. We also took the iPad away from the boys over a year ago because it just triggered teary arguments and cracked screens, so the main challenge for us to unplug really was kicking the good ol’ telly habit. Easy, you might think?
Wrong. The kids usually get to watch an hour and a half of TV before bed, and they were going to fight to keep it that way. Day one of our little experiment was a complete disaster; I thought I was doing the right thing when I told the boys that we were going to hang out instead of watching TV, but I ended up succumbing to the classic mama-type lies such as: “The TV is out of battery”.
There was crying, repeated requests to go to the store for batteries, as well as general shouting, and the kids weren’t able to focus on anything apart than their lack of TV. Great. And personally I felt nothing short of evil. My husband on the other hand, thought the whole idea was great, which I put down mainly to the fact that he generally gets home just in time to switch off the TV… and that’s on a good day.
But then, on day four, something changed, or maybe they just gave up? Either way, my eldest said: “Mamma, today we are not watching TV, we are practicing the alphabet instead.”
The impossible had happened! They were both happy, reading books, writing letters on a chalk board (I know!) while watching me cook. I totally felt like Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music, humming away to myself. Oh yes, I was a wholesome mother and all was well with the universe.
For the next six days this carried on; we came home from the park at around 5.30pm, had dinner, took a bath and then we just hung out in the kitchen; talking, reading, writing and doing all sorts of non-techy things. The boys didn’t ask for TV once during that time.
And you know what the best bit about it was? Sitting in the kitchen kind of gets old after about an hour so bedtime had never been easier. Enough with the talking already, time for some shut-eye! And mamas, what better reward is there on this earth?
The kids were happy once the 1o days were over and I presented them with the ‘holy screen’ again, but nowhere near they high-pitched hype I had predicted. Although my fam is back on the tech, I dare you to turn off the telly for a week mamas. It’s not as bad as you might think; it’s actually kind of… great. Go on, hate me for it!
This feature was originally published by Aquarius Magazine above, big love to the team there!