Today at Mamapedia, Dave Room, of Heal Our World, Heal Ourselves has posted a piece titled, “Are Lil Wayne, Zombies and Minecraft Raising Your Children?”
Having checked out Dave’s website, I’m pretty sure he’s a good guy with pure intentions, so I’m going to ignore the wholly unsubstantiated statistic about Latino and black kids (true or not, there is no source quoted and there really is no relevance to the content anyway) and hope this wasn’t intended to offend.
The article itself asserts that technology is changing the wiring of our kids’ brains and making our kids more violent, foul-mouthed and immoral.
On the surface, I guess I’d agree. A little bit. No… not really, now that I’ve begun to think about it in the context of my kids.
Does technology affect our kids’ developing brains? ABSOLUTELY.
Do violent video games and music with foul, degrading lyrics have a negative effect on our kids? In my opinion, WITHOUT QUESTION.
Is excessive screen time bad for our little ones? Excessive ANYTHING is bad for our kids.
I guess what I am saying is that this article deals too much in absolutes. It deals in blacks and whites (in more ways than one, clearly). It assumes that parents are either going to be The Bradys or they’re the Octomom.
Life isn’t like that!
Of course there are days when my kids watch way more TV that is good for them (appallingly too much, sometimes). Is it every day? Not a chance. They also do sport, play with friends and go to school. Do they listen to gangsta rap? Hell, no. Know why? Because their playlists are monitored by me. Sure, they ask to download songs their friends are listening to, with lyrics that are less than wonderful. Mostly, I allow them to get them anyway. It opens a window to talk about the incredible power of words and how we have the choice to use creative and interesting words to weave together magical stories or throw together really ugly ones and show ourselves to be ugly people. By facing the real world, we have the chance to have discussions about how much we value ourselves and how our words are the clothes of our character. Miss M certainly didn’t start yelling, “F*&k you!” after she heard the Cee Lo Green song at a friend’s house. She came to me and giggled and told me what she had heard and we talked about it. My kids know curse words exist but they also know that they’re not going to try include them in their day-to-day language. They don’t swear because we parent them, we guide them, we show them the world and help them to navigate through it. Hiding technology from them isn’t going to teach them anything.
Minecraft has given my kids an intensely creative outlet. I’ve heard that there’s a violent side to the game but I certainly haven’t seen it when my kids play. They are far more interested in what they can create that what they can destroy. In fact, I’m pretty sure that they have no idea that you CAN destroy anything. Miss M and Little Man get together with their friends (the one situation, mind you, that they adore each other’s company!) and strategise. They make alliances and they relish in the deeply creative imaginary worlds they are creating. As far as I see it, this is a wonderfully positive experience for them. On the flip-side, (and I have to be absolutely honest) when time’s up and I send them outside to play, withdrawal does set in. If I let them, they would be glued to their iPods all day.
Tonight, my daughter spent two hours on the computer. She is ten. *gasp*
She wasn’t looking at porn or killing zombies. Nor was she watching lewd music videos. She was immersed in the challenge of achieving a higher personal score on….MATHLETICS.
Screen time ain’t all bad.
Sure, it has the potential to be very dangerous, if parents don’t supervise, monitor and guide their kids. The thing is, this isn’t unique to screen time.
Kids left unsupervised at a swimming pool could drown. Kids left unsupervised in a shopping centre could be abducted. Kids left unsupervised at home could burn the house down.
The issue here is not technology. The issue is parenting.
White, Black, Hispanic, Asian or Smurf for that matter – we all need to guide our kids, teach them about this world and all the opportunities out there as well as the dangers. We need to educate them, build up their self-worth enough that they CHOOSE to raise themselves above the lowest common denominator.
It’s our job to raise our kids.
If they grow up to be chauvinistic, racist, bigoted, foul-mouthed, abusive, aggressive adults… let’s just say, it wasn’t the TV that did it. Mmmkay?
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I have a confession.
When I was expecting Little Man, I suffered terrible, unspeakable guilt. You see, I knew that there was no way I could possibly love this new baby as much as I loved Miss M.
Miss M was so beautiful, so clever, so funny. She was my baby girl and I adored her with every cell in my body. Sure I understood, on a logical level, that parents love all their kids the same (hadn’t my own parents told my siblings and I that all the time, like a mantra?) but in my heart…in my gut, I was certain that it simply wouldn’t be possible for me. Miss M was the light of my life and I couldn’t fathom how on earth another child could inspire the love in me that she had.
So I cried.
I beat myself up.
I knew I must be a bad mother. Read the rest of this entry
Look on the wall of any kindergarten classroom and you’ll find a list of rules like this:
From the minute they enter the school system, our kids are taught how to be good, play fair, be nice. It’s wonderful and delightful and, well, unrealistic.
I was the mother who mirrored those rules at home. I made damned sure my children said please and thank-you. I always facilitated sharing and turn-taking. We spoke about weapon-words and how to ask for things nicely and how snatching toys was bad. When my children started to fight with one another, I always jumped right in and mediated so they could learn that it’s not necessary to be mean. We did a lot of role-playing.
How very naive. Not to mention short-sighted.
“Why?”, you ask.
Let me ask you a question. If you found out that your child had Diabetes, would you deny him Insulin? If he was short-sighted, would you deny him glasses and tell him to just sit nearer the front of the classroom?
Well, then why – if your child was diagnosed with ADHD, would you decide to withhold medication?
Since I wrote about my own ADHD diagnosis, I have been overwhelmed with private messages from distraught parents whose children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Their distress is exactly the same – they are afraid to medicate and are certainly not going to share the diagnosis with anyone, for fear of the negative stigma. Their relief upon reading my post was almost palpable – for most, it was the first time someone had spoken about medicating ADHD in a positive light.
This really made me sad. Incredibly sad. All I could think was “Those poor kids.”
Before you judge me as a drug-peddler, let me begin by saying that I absolutely understand the fear of the scary monster ADHD drugs that are out there.
I realise more and more that I am the Mum I am because of the mother you were. Here are some of the valuable lessons you’ve taught me along the way.
From the time I was born, magic existed in my life. It was first revealed to me when you magically appeared from behind a fluffy blanket in peek-a-boo. I discovered it again in the tiny, glitter-encrusted note from the tooth fairy and the equally glittery trail that she left to the window. (Even when I realized you were the Tooth Fairy, I continued the pretense for the sheer magic it created in my life.) Magic was in the tree at the bottom of the garden, where the tree elves would enjoy the feast my siblings and I had painstakingly set up for them (they left crumbs and a very polite thank you note, suspiciously in your handwriting). I discovered that I could magically make people smile, just by smiling myself. Together, we discovered my inner-magic – my ability to do things I never knew I could, from traversing monkey bars to speaking solo in front of my entire school. I learnt the magic of envisioning something and making it happen. As I grew up, you showed it to me in more sophisticated ways. You showed be by achieving unachievable things yourself. My stay-at-home mom wrote books, plays, television shows and got them published – you showed me by your actions that I, too, could one day make obstacles disappear. Your mantra was always “Show me where it is written that I cant do this.”
I am a passionate person. So are you. You taught be to stand by what I believe, whether it makes me popular or not. I can’t count the number of times I sat on your lap, howling and crying crocodile tears because I had been ostracized for not doing what the cool kids expected of me. You gave me comfort, let me cry and always told me you were proud that I’d chosen the high road that led to your lap, rather than going against my conscience in order to fit in. I learned that sometimes the cool crowd aren’t that cool…sometimes the cool crowd are really the cowardly crowd. You taught me that not only is it okay to be me, it is, in fact, the most important thing in the world. You were never part of a herd and you are fabulous. I learned that my quirks make me fabulous too. Read the rest of this entry