Why do I get so upset when my kids are on their devices? It makes me feel so exasperated, deflated, de-energized. Seeing them plugged in, with their headphones on feeling good about being a virtual hero depresses me. Seeing them judge themselves with hearts on Instagram is numbing for me as a Mom.
Do you find yourself in battles with your kids over their device use and feeling this way too?
My three kids don’t even spend much time on their devices and yet I continue to get wound up by it. Having given it a fair amount of thought, there are two reasons why I think it affects me like this. The first one being that I know just how harmful and addictive too much of it can be. I know just how much it can negatively influence their developing sense of identity.
But for me it’s more than that.
It boils down to the fact that no matter how interesting the content, looking at a screen just doesn’t cut it for ME and therefore I can’t understand why kids love it so much! And why they would choose it over other exciting, real, in person activities. It just seems so mindless and un-constructive, such a waste of precious time that could be spent doing other things.
The real world is so much more exciting and enticing to me. Then when I see my kids being swept up and enthused by the virtual world it saddens me.
Yes, I think that is it.
It makes me sad to see them so utterly mesmerized by a virtual world. It saddens me that when they are at a loose end in their real life they are lured to seek another dose of excitement in the virtual. It saddens me to see how they can so quickly become disengaged from real life and the relationships therein.
I know that this is not entirely rational but this is where I’m at.
Don’t get me wrong, I recognize the fact that I need the virtual world. My kids need the virtual world. Most of us do. In fact I absolutely could not live without it. (well I could but you know what I mean). It’s a part of my world now and I embrace that.
Regardless of how we see it, the digital world is here to stay. We’re all living in it. It’s a huge part of my life and it plays an even bigger part in my kid’s lives. How do I therefore honor and respect that? How can I make sure my kids have balance especially during the long beautiful hazy days of summer when there are so many rich offerings out there, waiting for them in the sunshine?
The key for me is this:
- Managing and Setting Expectations
- Being intentional
- Gaining Understanding and Clarity
- Letting Go and Perspective
When my kids know what I expect and what they can subsequently expect, they find it easier to find balance.
When I see my kids intentionally managing their time on their devices and being aware of the time they dedicate and allocate to it, I am cool with it.
When they understand why I feel the way I do, it helps them respect my standpoint. When I understand theirs, it helps me recognize that it’s a bigger part of their lives than it is mine.
When I am clear with them that I am doing this to help them; to educate and help them develop the skills to be able to regulate and monitor themselves in the virtual world. This helps them see that it is not me just being nasty and me being against them being on their devices for the sake of it.
The last huge piece is for me to let go of my preconceived idea that my children’s childhood has to be the same as mine was. Times have changed. This is their childhood and as such, it is different to mine.
However, as a parent, guide and leader, I do know what is essential to their whole development and I believe it is my duty to make sure that I give them the opportunity to develop that.
For years I just complained and didn’t do much about it. Nothing changed. The subject played out mentally and verbally like a stuck record. Having taken the time to dig deep and establish why it bothered me helped me find strategies to dealing with it.
Does it trigger you? Why? What do you do? What works for you?
I’d love to hear from you.
PS. I am going away on holiday for three weeks. Wifi allowing, I am planning to post some blogs for you. I want to apologize in advance of the possibility that if you don’t hear from me, it will be because of this. Have a happy three weeks!