There are two pieces of advice I have been following when it comes to technology and a toddler, one from Phillippa Perry’s The book your parents should have read (and your children will be glad you did) and the other from a friend who writes over at mamapleasedontcry.com
Perry’s book is the first book I’ve read that captures the essence of what we want parents to be like and shares honest stories from her experience and clients she’s had of how it happens. Sure we can create a balance, routine and open the door for honest communication though it isn’t instantaneous and slowly, through much repetition manifests.
Let’s talk about the iPhone, SK loves a new gadget the same as any small human with a developing brain and the line I use is ‘I cannot allow you to use my phone’. It’s simple, it’s direct and to the point. I felt I was growing in assertiveness and boundaries the first few dozen times I used it. It has worked to a point, though there’s something else that has helped greatly.
The notion of less importance.
It’s perfectly illustrated between me and my partner, I am learning the ways of a ‘digital minimalist’ I talk about this more in this video. I have removed apps from my phone such as social media, youtube, Netflix, and BBCiplayer. If I for some reason want to share something or watch something and can’t do so from my other devices, I install the app carry out my task then delete it again. This helps me feel less consumed by the age of information, I feel less attached to the online world and my phone is simply more of a phone.
I spend more of my waking days in tasks, in play, and generally more present, I’m not scrolling and overall I think it shows I value real-time in the here and now. I’m also less interested in the validation of others through likes.
Our little one gets bored, hands me back the phone to put on the shelf and walks away (most of the time).
A phone is a communication device, the moment it becomes a source of watching videos it becomes like a handheld TV. Not only that but it’s tailored to your toddler’s fingertips as they at age 20 months learn to scroll, flick, press stuff. Oh god, what are you watching?? Who are you calling??
My partner, however, is a techno enthusiast. I’m not sure how this has happened as I don’t remember him being like this when we met. I feel the online world of apps is very persuasive, they reel you in to escape and buy yet more stuff till time has gone by and all you have done is watch a screen while the household is being managed in the background. I understand that it can be a source of learning, even prayer books are on there and in this time of social distancing Sangat (holy company). Though I have problems when I need some disengagement from technology and an all hands on deck approach, yesterday.
Another thing I have learned is not to fall into deprivation, depriving a person of something (no matter how small) that is there and they wanted a long toddler two minutes. So that allowing in allowing the time and giving one or two verbal reminders that it is coming off soon and not grabbing it forcefully. After all, if we were working in our job, how would we feel if someone closed off the power to our computer – pretty annoyed! Our concentration has gone and respect out of the window. I would much prefer a warning the power was going to be shut off first.
Here are some guidelines and balance I have arrived at with my partner so far:
When you come home Youtube, Children’s Youtube, Netflix and any other app like it will be deleted if you are to have your phone out all the time with our child (obviously I wouldn’t do this with guests or anyone else). I’ve found SK gets bored quickly when there’s nothing to watch and eventually tires of listening to music and looking at videos of herself. I’d rather her watch things on a bigger screen like you know olden times…
I’ve removed your social media from the front screen so she can’t easily flick through other people’s stuff on Instagram. I haven’t deleted the apps though my basic rule is everything can be uploaded again and you’re not missing out on not having it all the time.
No iPads before bedtime, use it when she is defiantly asleep (like I do) if I need to delete Youtube I will every time. We have books! This may sound harsh and even controlling though when you have been caring for a little one 12 hours and you want to rest, the last thing you need is an iPad to bump that number up to a 16 hour day.
Still a work in progress. Share your thoughts in the comments below!