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Don’t be sorry if your child has no gadget

What’s pitiful about giving them time to study and explore the world?

LIFE WITHOUT GADGETS Encourage your  kids to play a musical  instrument or buy books instead of toys. There is no limit to a child’s imagination.

LIFE WITHOUT GADGETS Encourage your kids to play a musical instrument or buy books instead of toys. There is no limit to a child’s imagination.

In this digital time where most kids would rather play online games instead of engage in conversations, watch their favorite Youtube channels instead of take up a sport, and spend countless hours doing whatever it is that they’d rather do with their gadgets than with anyone else, it really is quite a challenge for parents to think of a family activity that can pry their hands off from their virtual companions.

 

Setting the Rules

Truthfully, I don’t have it as bad as other parents.  Very early on, I made my opposition to gadgets and clearly laid down the rules regarding its use.  My son M was already 10 years old when he got his own iPad.  On weekdays, he is allowed to use it as a search engine for homework and strictly only on weekends could he use it for recreation. Before that, I never bought him any handheld gaming unit and he never asked for one.  Some relatives said, “Ibili mo na. Kawawa naman. Palagi na lang nakikitingin sa mga pinsan.(Go ahead and buy him one. He’s always looking at his cousins while they play with their gadgets.)” I stood my ground. M graduated from grade school at the top of his batch with double gold medals for outstanding academic achievements and a high school scholarship. Definitely nothing pitiful about his feat.

This year, at 12, his Dad gave M his own Mac Air laptop.  He is appealing for some leniency on my weekday strictly-for-homework-use policy. “You’re not running a fiefdom, you know. Please, Mom.  I always give you good grades,” he said with as much charm as only he could muster.

Be the Example

Children rarely follow hollow advice.  If you want them to be obedient, you have to be the best example of what you espouse. If you say that it’s better to read books than play computer games, but your kids have never seen you open a book—much less read to them, you don’t have a fighting chance of raising well-read individuals.  This is the reason why to this day, I always bring my children to the bookstore. They can always ask me to buy books but not toys.  And just like her brother when he was her age, my five-year-old daughter R knows who Eric Carle and Maurice Sendak are. She can name all the food the caterpillar ate from Monday to Saturday (from Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar) as well as act out scenes from Sendak’s Caldecott Medal award winning book, Where the Wild Things Are. I also encourage storytelling before bedtime.  There’s a mini-library in the master’s bedroom where both kids can easily reach for a book.   My toddler, though, likes making up impromptu bedtime stories and refuses to sleep until the two of us have each shared our tales.

 

Finding the Balance

Parenthood does not come with a manual. Each family has to decide what is best for them. I believe in delayed gratification, in helping my kids discover their talents and pushing them to excel.  I believe in competitive sports, in the advantages of learning a musical instrument and in letting my kids speak their minds.  There is nothing pitiful about your kid not having a cellphone or a computer or any kind of gadget.  Whether we like it or not, we are all part of the digital present and future. All of us are aware of its possibilities as well as its dangers.  Just how much we allow our kids to be part of the digital world is what we can control for now. When they have spent time outdoors, learned patience and hard work, and have developed a sense of discernment, then they can decide for themselves.

 

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