I remember the days pre-Smart Phone. I recall the mind-numbing boredom of the doctor’s office waiting room, in which the only entertainment was an out-of-date Better Homes & Gardens magazine that did me no good as I owned neither a home, nor a garden.[pullquote type=”2″ align=”right”]The world that the internet has opened up is limitless…I am excited about the possibilities that my children will have at their fingertips…[/pullquote]Needless to say, I do not long for the “Good Ole Days” of technology past. When I was a kid, we only had three TV stations. Saturday afternoon television viewing consisted of golf, old episodes of WKRP Cincinnati (which were actually pretty awesome), or such edited movie classics as Robocop or Total Recall or what not. Growing up pre-DVR meant that I might wander in the living room while my dad was watching Alien just in time for the chest busting scene. We did not have a remote, my sister and I WERE the remote.
So it has been established that I love technology. The world that the internet has opened up is limitless. I have daily conversations with friends and fellow bloggers in such far away places as Australia and Japan. I am excited about the possibilities that my children will have at their fingertips – a global exposure that I only dreamed about as a child. My son’s best friend moved to Texas last year and while he still misses him terribly, email has helped them keep in touch through letters and pictures. He uses the iPad to snap a picture of a favorite book that he is reading, and then he and his buddy talk about the book on the phone and through messages. Pearl-clutchers fret that technology is stifling creativity. My question is, might we start thinking about redefining creativity? I have seen amazing and innovative design online. The internet opened up a new world for writers and new avenues to share the written word. The sky is the limit!
Yet I search for that elusive happy medium. I do not want my children to have all-encompassing online lives, and not be able to hold a face-to-face conversation. Another very real concern is the correlation between rising levels of obesity and our dependence on technology. The simple fact is, we are a more sedentary society dependent on processed foods, while our level of exercise is decreasing. Simply put, we just do not move enough anymore to burn off the calories that we are consuming. I think this is a valid concern. My own personal answer is that I try to balance my children’s screen time with athletic and social activities such as sports, dance class, and church programs.
How much is too much? I am afraid that I do not have a standard, simple solution. When my son was a baby, I was quite the expert on parenting and how my way was the right way to parent. Ha! Eight years in, I have realized that there is no one way to be a “perfect parent” because everyone has a different set of circumstances, experiences, and strengths. I aim for a goal of Healthy and Happy. If my family is healthy and happy (and they usually are, unless they are fighting over the last muffin, or Mom won the nightly UNO game), then I say, let’s go sling some birds at some pigs.
Katie Davis Skelley is a Tennessee native who moved to Madison with her family in 2009. Katie enjoys gardening (when not combating her mortal enemy, the Japanese beetle), fitness, singing in her church choir, traveling to exotic lands such as Orlando, and to the consternation of her husband Marc, frequently redecorating rooms in their home. You can read about her adventures in parenting over at Team Skelley and follow her on twitter at @katiedskelley.