I work in Information Technology consulting for a living and part of my job is to know tech, even tech I don’t necessarily use on the job. In fact, my company takes this so seriously, they actually give us all a $2000 a year “gadget” fund to spend on electronics if we choose to do so.
I think their intent is to encourage us all to be passionate technologists, in hopes that this will assist us with building rapport and a strong reputations with our clients, who tend to love asking us what we think about the newest smartphones, tablets and latest versions of Windows/iOs/Android version XYZ.
Despite being engulfed in tech for a living, in my home I try very hard to limit my children’s exposure to technology. My four year old can fire up the Roku box and navigate to her favorite TV shows on Amazon Prime or Netflix with ease, and my two year old can even play simple games on a tablet PC, but I don’t allow them a TV or video games in their room, video game time is limited to how long I feel like sitting next to them and playing with them and TV time is pretty limited as well.
Further, as my children get older I’ve pretty much decided they aren’t getting their own smartphones and computers and only a cell phone once they are old enough to be out and about on their own. I’ve also decided TVs and computers will always be prohibited in the bedrooms unless I find they just have a knack for some sort of coding, development or design where having a computer would actually help them rather than serve as a distraction.
And social media…. Forget about it! I know that will be pretty much impossible to avoid at some point, but I will try to avoid letting my girls use services like Facebook and Twitter as long as possible.
It isn’t that I’m prudish or over protective, or even that I have some sort of belief that TV, video games and internet surfing will rot your brain, lead to obesity, ADHD or some other ailment or deficiency. It is more so that I feel the amount of value all this great technology adds to our lives is very limited and at a certain point, it quickly begins subtracting value!
I have come to this realization from becoming a techno-glutton myself. For a while, my wife and I had a TV in our room, another in the living room, internet TV devices hooked to each, half a dozen different video game systems, tablet PCs and smartphones. Then I realized one day that all we did was sit around looking at screens all day, and worse, my job requires I look at a screen all day as well.
Since then, we are yet to get rid of any of these screens, but I have taken the TVs out of all bedrooms, got rid of a few online services and made it more inconvenient to use all these devices. Lo and behold, we now all get more sleep and have fewer arguments with the kids about going to bed, and my wife and I get a lot more done around the house. We also talk a lot more than we were before.
The next step is to do the same with my downtime at work. Ditch social media and chatting and instead, work on actually learning something with my extra cycles. Then pass on these new, positive habits to my girls.