Is it ok to use technology to distract our kids from unpleasant feelings such as impatience or boredom?

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Is it ok to use technology to distract our kids from unpleasant feelings such as impatience or boredom?

You get home from work, but first had to make a stop off at the school to pick up the kids. After dealing with traffic, you open the fridge. 10 minutes fly by while you mull the question around in your head: pasta or mashed potatoes? You go with pasta, again. You put a pot on to boil water. You’re feeling frazzled. Even considering doing laundry is out of the question today.

Meanwhile, the kids are doing kids things and getting in your hair. I have two young kids. Left alone to their own devices, they run around the house, screaming and laughing. Then they wind down. ‘DADA! I’m booored’. Bet you’ve heard that more than once in your house!

You’re tempted to turn on the T.V. or pass them an iPad, but then you remember that thing you might have heard on CNN (or was it ESPN?) that a study done in 1999 said too much T.V. time means your kids will be mentally deficient. Or was it physically deficient? Or they’d get cavities. Man, this parenting stuff is hard! There are so many things to worry about.

They do make great babysitters

Ben Kuchera, the opinion editor for Polygon, has 5 kids and his view is that T.V. and games are great babysitters. As someone who has had early access to technology, it’s understandable he would have a different view of technology and family than other, more traditional people. I totally agree with him! From time to time, kids can be effectively contained with a tablet or a Wii U. The key phrase for me, however, is ‘from time to time’.

In the daily scenario I wrote above, I wouldn’t justify giving the tablet to them for that reason alone. Not every day at least. The day I’m working on baking birthday cakes on top of a regular meal, or am finding it difficult to cope, then I’ll use whatever tools I have available to help me stay sane.

Not just a boredom suppressant

The same goes for times when the kids are antsy. I cringe when I go to the laundromat. We are all regulars there and there is one mother who brings her son with her every week. He sits and does homework for a while, then gets squirmy and starts banging on tables and machines. Finally he starts crying for the phone, and she gives it to him. Every time.

Impatience is a trait most of us have and it’s something we learn to manage with varying degrees of success in our adult lives. Helping your kids to accept that things sometimes take time is a great lesson to impart, especially now that we live in an increasing ‘I want it all, and I want it now! ‘ society.  The New York Times calls impatience ‘an ugly toll of technology’.

I don’t have an issue with giving my kids a tablet or phone to play with when they are bored. But I don’t think it’s appropriate to give it to them when they make a fuss or demand it. These are not behaviors I want to encourage in my kids.

I think technology should be used as a reward for good behavior, or as a temporary distraction for some respite to accomplish a task. Moderation being the key to healthy living isn’t just in regards to eating well; better habits can be formed for all things!

Do you have any tips you’d like to share on how to help you kids deal with boredom? We’d love to hear from you. Use the ‘Leave a reply’ section below to share.

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