Tuesday, October 23, 2012

breaking the trance

something that drives me absolutely nuts is when a crying baby or toddler is consoled with technology. think: yo gabba gabba on an iphone, a toy that makes noise or has blinking lights, a DVD player in the backseat of the car...

don't get me wrong, there have been desperate times when i too have resorted to using the yo-gabba-gabba-trance to calm my daughter. but, every time i see it happen i always wonder what people did before this technology was available? what did our parents do? our grandparents?

there is a lot to be said about how we raise kids now vs. how the last generation was raised. but more and more i find that i am nostalgic for my own childhood. i like "old" things. i like vintage. it makes sense to me that i would be drawn to a different style of parenting than what goes on today (*please know that i am speaking very generally here. i am well aware that there are thousands of different styles of parenting. this issue is just something i see quite often*).

the real problem i have with using technology (to CALM a child. not in general. heck, i'm on my computer right now) is that it is simply a distraction from the real issue. instead of trying to understand what's wrong with the child or help him/her express themselves we just shove a phone in their face and say, "shhh...watch gabba." how will we ever know how to properly care for our children if we ignore the underlying issues? in fact, flashing lights and lots of noise can actually make the problem worse"The proliferation of technology...further handicaps children in their quest for calm. Computer games, with their beeping and flashing and demand for tight electronic focus, further compromise community and core brain calm." (source). wouldn't it be more beneficial to us AND our children to actually parent them than to just treat the "symptom," not the problem? kids cry for a reason and it's our job as parents to understand why. it's our job to help them understand themselves why they are upset. and then it's our job to comfort and console, not the TV's.

to those like me, who resort to technology either every once in awhile or everyday, i propose a challenge: let's go ONE WEEK without entertaining our kids with a TV/computer/phone screen. just ONE week. let's see what we learn about our kids, and ourselves, in the process. we can do it! plus, think of all the one-on-one time you'll get with your child(ren). all the time that may have been spent watching TV or playing a computer game will now be spent with you. what a blessing!

a few good related reads:
-are we overstimulating young children?
-kids and overstimulation
-the rise of ADHD: is technology to blame?


  1. This is a great idea and I think I may give it a try. I say may because even though my children do not watch a lot of tv, it is still a scary thought. But it shouldn't be, so here it goes.

    1. i don't think it's a bad thing to let kids watch a little tv - i do it! heck, a half an hour before i posted this, i put a video on facebook of norah dancing to bruno mars on SNL hehe :)

      my problem is when we use the tv (or phone, computer, etc.) to console/calm them rather than figure out what's wrong. or when we just sit them in front of a screen while we go about our own business. no wonder this generation has no imagination!

      whenever i get the urge to "shush" her with technology i try to think, what would my grandma have done? and then i try something else. it's not to say that i won't cave now and then. from now on i'm just going to try and use it only as a last resort. good luck!

    2. Thanks again for the inspiration. After thinking about it I realized I am completely guilty of turning on the tv when my kids say they are bored. I have decided to give it a shot and I am linking up with you on my blog.

    3. good for you! it's gonna be hard, but we can do it!

      thanks for linking :)

  2. Love this post! (Also, we made your pumpkin planter today: http://www.youaretheroots.com/2012/10/pumpkin-planter.html)

    My little guy is 16 months old and he's never watched TV. People are always appalled for some reason. Mind you, I don't mind at ALL if a child watches TV here or there and I definitely don't judge children/parents who do! But I also don't think it's weird that my son hasn't watched TV, you know? My son is on breathing treatments each morning for restrictive airway. Sometimes I put on videos on YouTube (Sesame Street music videos, etc.) for each 3 minute treatment. Usually it's a video or two to distract him. Lately he's been more into reading stories during this time, though it's hard for him to hear over the breathing machine noise. Those videos are the most he's seen of TV and not even because I'm trying so hard to keep him from it -- but because I don't know where in the world I'd even FIND the time for him to watch TV, you know?!

    I remember hwne I was pregnant, my husband and I were at dinner and sat next to a couple with two children, maybe ages two and four. They both sat on laptops the whole time. No one in the family spoke. I was so hormonal and it upset me so much that I just sobbed the rest of the night. I agree with what you said -- technology shouldn't provide a distraction, parents should still try to understand why their child is upset, etc.

    1. i think that's AWESOME that he's never watched! good for you! i've been much weaker hehe ;) but really, it's not weird at all. we watch youtube videos sometimes too (she LOVES the hooplakidz channel. don't go there. it is NOT parent-friendly haha) and maybe 1/2 hour or so of TV a day, on average. some days not at all, some days we'll watch a whole movie. it really depends on the day/weather/mood/amount-of-sleep-i-had-the-night-before hehe

      the situation at the restaurant is really awful. that's something i'm so afraid will one day happen to my family as norah and any future babies grow older. especially with all the pressure for kids to have the latest cool gadgets. all i can do is try not to put such a big focus on technology as entertainment (for educational purposes, maybe) and hope that they value actual human contact over a glowing screen.