I read a short article in yesterday’s morning paper, The Age, about a Canadian family who have decided to ban all technology in their home for the next twelve months. Unfortunately I can’t find this article online, but it has been reported extensively across the world, including the Huffington Post.
In banning all technology made after 1986, Blair McMillan and Morgan Patey, the parents of a 5 year old and a 2 year old, decided that for the next twelve months they wanted to re-create the world in which they were both born – 1986. Concerned that their kids couldn’t tear themselves away from iPhones and iPads to kick a ball around outside, a phenomenon so different to their own upbringing, they decided to create an environment where their kids could learn to play games including playing outside. So ….. cellphones, computers, internet access, GPS devices, digital cameras and pay TV are all off limits.
Many have applauded the initiative they’ve taken with some saying that the parents have shown much courage in making this decision. Although they expressed pangs of anxiety in closing their own Facebook accounts, the children’s father says that “we’re parenting our kids the same way we were parented, for a year, just to see what it’s like.”
Much has been written about the dangers of us being constantly ‘switched on’ to tehcnology and the impact this has on on our children. The Huffington Post article to which I refer you incorporates a comprehensive slideshow “Studies About Kids and Technology” which is well worth having a slow look at.
Without a doubt all of us are using technology at an incredibly high rate. But is this all bad? Is the danger so serious that we need to cut off access to the outside world and create a false world within the confines of our home? Is placing a ban on all technology such as this family have chosen to do, the way to get our kids to appreciate and involve themselves in activiites such as talking and sharing as a family and playing outside? Doesn’t banning something make it all the more appealing and pique the interest of the kids who are bound to see this technology in the hands and homes of their friends?
Surely the role of both parents and teachers is to teach our children moderation and variation. Having down time when the TV is turned off, where conversation over dinner is encouraged, where playing outdoor games, kicking a ball, going for walks in the park or curling up with a book in hand should surely be part of the parenting and education we give our children.
Cutting our children off from technology and the immense opportunities that technlogy bring to our lives is not, I feel, the way to go. Learning ‘moderation’ is the key to life! Being able to learn when and how to switch off technology so as to enjoy the wonders of our world and other modes of communication is part and parcel of the education game to which we should all aspire – a responsibility incumbent on both parents and teachers.