The issue of tech and children comes up a lot in my circles!
On the one end is the whole life unschooling view that if given unrestricted usage, children will learn to self-regulate on tech. For kids not using tech to escape school or other life stresses, this does tend to be true.
But I'm not at all comfortable personally with the months of excessive - unhealthy and unnatural - time it takes kids to begin to self-regulate.
On the other end, is the view that technology should not be introduced until high school and then only gradually. This is popular in Waldorf circles and is even the view of many Silicone Valley techies!
But having grown up very countercultural, I'm not comfortable with my kid missing out on an awareness of pop culture - including tech with both its educational and entertainment aspects. I want to raise a wise consumer of culture, not someone who fears it.
On the one side, I think children suffer from months of not enough exercise and fresh air. On the other end, I think children are at a disadvantage in missing out on many of the wonderful resources available online and in feeling "normal" around peers.
So somewhere there has to be a happy medium, a balance, and a way to maintain that balance without straining the parent/child relationship! I'm not a big fan of "Because I'm the mom and I said so!" First, it just doesn't teach children anything except that power and force win. Second, they eventually get to the place where they're more powerful than you if they really want to be.
This illustration above makes a great point! Folks were afraid of reading, of books, of the printing press and much more - just as folks are afraid of technology now. It was predicted that books would change our brains because we could just read rather than memorize and recite. And it did change our brains. And tech is going to - and is - changing the way our children learn and the way their brains work. And that's ok!
A psych professor told our class once that reading is not natural for the brain. It's one of the few things that requires both right and left brain usage and integration. But we manage - usually quite well - and it's a very useful tool.
And I predict that as we continue to evolve with technology, we'll be just fine - as long as we maintain a close relationship with the natural world.
I don't think it's so much tech that's the problem as it is our DIS CON NEC TION from nature!
The average school age child spends 7 hours per day in front of a screen but only 6-9 minutes outside!!
I'm all for delaying the introduction of technology in favor of toddlers and preschoolers learning primarily from interaction with people and nature. However, for my 10 year old, I'm thrilled with what she learns from tech! I'm thrilled that Math Antics exists, for educational documentaries, for games like Minecraft that allow her to excel with her strength of spatial reasoning, for voice dictation software and spell check that help with her dyslexia, and even for Monster High which, despite super sexy ridiculous clothing, has some great girl power, collaboration, anti bullying, be yourself, non-conformity, and other messages! (And the clothing is just another chance to talk about culture and our choice in what we take from it and what we leave).
I do sometimes have to tell her it's time to put the kindle away and go outside or play or something. I do see how it can be addictive.
But I also know a lot of adults who spend too much time on tech as well - myself included! Admit it, don't you sometimes binge watch shows, or scroll repeatedly through FB, or spend hours researching something, or play some game through to the end in a day or so (or hours)? Most of us are excessive at some times with tech. A healthy relationship with tech requires balance!
So I'd rather not set arbitrary limits on screen time for my kid. Forcing her doesn't teach her anything.
Instead we talk about what's healthy: we talk about the need for fresh air and sunlight and exercise, and doing things with our hands, and being face to face with other people in real time. We talk about the strengths of tech and what it can add to our lives in terms of joy and education. And I give her as much freedom as possible to self-regulate inside of some strongly held family values, one of which is that we do things that are healthy for us. So if she's monitoring herself well, then fine. If not, it usually doesn't take much more than a reminder "Hey, how long have you been on that? What else are you going to do today?" to get her saying "Oh wow! Yeah it's been awhile. I think I'm going to finish this and go outside!"
We tried it the other way with me only allowing her on it at certain times and for certain things. But this seems to work better to teach her to be self aware and healthy!
And you know she came up to me one day and said, "When I get to decide when I'm on my Kindle by myself I don't want to use it as much because I know it's there. When there's a rule about the time I can use it I want to use it all the time because I know I won't be able to use it sometimes."
Think about it...you and I as adults would feel the same way. The more we can treat our children with respect, as we'd want to be treated, and the more we can guide them to make their own healthy choices, rather than forcing things upon them, the more we serve them. In the end, we are teaching them to make healthy choices, to internalize values, to want to spend time in nature too! Tech doesn't grow on trees but it's here to stay and an issue we all need to find our comfortable spot with. To me, what's natural, is to hold space and guide my child in finding her own inner wisdom in keeping a healthy balance in life. This creates peace and keeps tech a thing of joy rather than a thing to fight about, fear, or binge unhealthily.