"If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all." ~ Pearl S. Buck
Full disclosure: I do not have children. However, I often play, "If I had kids . . ." as the kid-less have been known to do. Of course, I recognize much of how I think I'll handle raising kids will go out the window when I have them. Parenthood, I can see, is a learn-as-you-go experience.
I can't help but wonder though, what I'll do with regards to raising children in our constantly connected world. I love mentally retreating back to my childhood in large part because there was no Internet, and it's important to me that my children have some connection with a life that doesn't revolve around a computer.
I was talking to my cousin Alicia at Christmas. She has three children ages 6, 4, and 2, and she and her husband are just starting to think about how they're going to handle technology in the house as the kids get older. She told me that they'll probably do what a neighbor does with his teenagers, and that is this: The kids have cell phones but as soon as they walk in the house the phones are plugged into the "cell phone station" and they are not allowed to be used at home. This means all friends have to call the landline--and parents can have the old-fashioned exchange, "Oh hello Mrs. Clark. Is Bobby at home?" "Hi Timmy, How are you? Just one moment." As a result, parents have a better idea of who their kids are spending time with. There is no aimless texting at the dinner table or in front of the TV. Instead there is conversation and laughter--probably the occasional argument, too.
I think this is a fantastic idea. Making home a cell-phone free zone. I'm sure it irritates the kids the same way limited TV time irritated me. And as an adult I say, "Thank you mom and dad for caring enough to monitor and limit my TV time!"
Whether it be no cell phones at home or only an hour of Facebook at night, it's important that we monitor our children (as parents and as a community) and teach them how to live a balanced life. (No cells phones at the dinner table might do us adults some good, too).