I took the kids yesterday to meet my best friend and her two daughters, ages 4 and 5, for lunch at a popular local burger place. I arrived first, with three kids in tow, and ordered for the both of us. We got our buzzer and immediately found a table to accommodate all of us. While we waited for our friends to arrive Harper and Gunnar sat at the table inspecting the buzzer and chatting about their friends arrival. Our friends arrived and we all shuffled into place at the table, the kids were all sitting in their seats wiggling around waiting for the buzzer to go off. Finally the food was ready, as I placed it on the table, which was almost too small for all of our food and drinks, I had a minute to notice the nearly crowd of people that seemed to be standing over us watching. My friend, Maxine looked at me and said "I feel like people are staring at us", I jokingly said "why? They notice how well behaved our kids are and how we have this on lock down" lol.
Then, we both noticed the table of kids behind us. In a packed restaurant there was an entire table taken up by about 5 kids ranging in age from 7-13, with minimal food on their table. Their fathers were 5 feet away loudly chatting at a bar type table not at all paying attention to anything going on around them. The kids were not eating at all. They each had a gadget in their hand and were so intrenched in their own device that if a bomb had gone off outside they wouldn't have even noticed. They didn't speak a word to each other, they didn't look up, they didn't engage with their fathers, they did nothing... but stare blankly into the screen. All the while there are about 15 other people waiting to sit down and enjoy their lunch and their company. Maxine and I looked at each other in utter disbelief that people could be so blindly rude and inconsiderate. I mean, if your kid wants to play on a device, fine, but why then go out with their friends if they wont even interact with each other. YOU ARE TAKING UP SPACE. Valuable space that other paying customers are entitled to use. Perhaps if their parents weren't so selfish themselves, they would have encouraged their children to eat, if they didn't want to fine, its time to get up and leave then. Finally, they started to gather their things and leave, I kid you not one kid was looking so deeply into his iPad that he almost got left behind. In came the next mother with her two children. They chose their seats and boom iPads for the kids and iPhone for mom. Not one word was spoken between them.
No, I do not let my kids play with phones (mine or anyone else's), iPads, computers, tablets, or consoles. About three years ago I was told there was a really cute app for kids to keep them occupied while at restaurants or whatever. I downloaded it onto my phone and I let Harper use it here and there. I soon noticed I couldn't even check an email or make a phone call without her trying to grab my phone. This had to stop. I deleted the application and never let her touch my phone again. It took about two days for her to stop asking and then we were free of any technological attachment that I so stupidly may have created. First of all, why did I need to have my child entertained at a restaurant? Aren't my husband and I enough entertainment, and whoever we may be dining with? I mean, how did any child ever survive dinner out with their parents without the brain washing devices available today? Maybe adult human beings interacted with their children! THE HORROR.
I cannot tell you how many times, while out to eat, we have been complimented on how well our children sit, eat, and interact with us when out. This is music to my mama heart. I personally love talking to my kids, every little mispronounced word, every little kooky thought, and every little toddler mannerism make my heart explode with joy. Don't miss out on these moments.
I know what you are going to say.... XYZ Application has taught my child to do this and that. It is a wonderful learning tool. And to that I say, my child can do the SAME THING without the use of a device. I'll let you in on a little secret. Most executives working at Silicon Valley do not allow their children to use these devices. Is that shocking? No not at all, these brilliant humans did not get to where they are today by having these devices to do things for them. They learned on their own, old school style, books and such. See the key is to support the innate curiosity of your child, their natural instinct to progress and expand themselves. Its not telling your child what to learn, and drilling them on it. Feeding your child information and watching them spew it back might be fulfilling to you, but really at some point that will end and your child will be left with limited knowledge. Support your child in their learning by providing them with plenty of play, rest, and OPPORTUNITY to learn such as books, experiences, experiments; go to museums, show them the world. Take them on a train, talk about the wheels, and gears, or bring them outside to watch the planes go by and discuss force.
Remember, there is not a single thing an iPad can teach your child to do that you cannot. Take the opportunity to be your child's teacher, have the pleasure of showing them whats out there to learn. Don't let a device ruin that opportunity for you.