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Is Technology Really Bad For Kids?

Is your iPhone a gateway drug to neglecting your kids? Or are high-tech toys just the lastest whipping goats in the crusade against parents having their own lives?

A few weeks ago the media was all atwitter about parents blowing off their kids to play with their cell phones. Apparently, kids feel jealous and unhappy when their parents focus on cell phones or laptops instead of the kids. There was a lot of hand-wringing and some fierce criticism leveled at working moms in particular.

Annie from PhD in Parenting has a different take: parents have always had to ignore their kids some portion of every day. It’s how they can work for a living, stay sane and get any housework done.

We’re using technology to help us do everything in our lives, from grocery shopping to banking to socializing. Of course parents use technology to do things other than focusing on our kids. Annie points out that each generation of parents has been scolded for taking their attention from those precious babies: our mothers were admonished for watching soap operas, we’re being taken to task for Twitter.

Are our gadgets more of a disruption to family life than our televisions, or our newspapers? Maybe in some ways. That doesn’t mean they spell doom to family dinners. It simply means we need to learn new ways of making boundaries around the close time we spend with our children and the time and energy we spend focusing on other things.

Our kids will always feel at times that they’re not getting enough of our undivided attention. We’ll probably want more of theirs, too, as they grow older.

Whether it’s a telephone or Twitter that’s keeping us engaged with the outside world, it’s only a bad thing if we abuse it. Setting some limits around mealtimes and pickups takes care of the biggest trouble spots, from a kids’ perspective. These are the moments when you’re kid really needs you to be focused on them, not the world.

How do you handle the gadget invasion in your home?

Photo: ifindkarma

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