It’s time for me to come clean, I am involved in a love/hate relationship. And no, it’s not with my husband. It is with electronics.
Sometimes I am incredibly grateful for the advancement of electronic entertainment (like when embarking on a very long car ride, as will soon be the case). And yet, at other times, I literally want to scream about how much frick’n time my kids sit on their back ends with their eyes glued to a screen. Seriously, it is embarrassing, appalling and the worst part about it is we brought it on ourselves! I know I’m not alone. Other parents I talk to say the same thing, “I can’t get my kid to do anything, all he/she wants to do is play (insert name of favorite electronic gadget here)!”
Here’s how it started (at least at the Muench house)…YEARS ago (somewhere after dinosaurs, but before the Toyota Prius debuted) some genius invented a gaming system called Ninetendo 64. Santa left it as a “family gift” under the tree. I say “family” very loosely because at the time I had a 4-year-old and a 10-year-old…and a husband of course. So, really only half the “family” received any benefit. Then in 2001 our family grew again and now our tribe included GameCube. Fast forward to 2009 and XBox enters the picture. 2010 the Wii moved in with Kinects (for XBox) tagging along in 2011. The in between years brought items like Nintendo DS, DSi and now 3DS, and I am under no delusion that our family is anywhere near complete. The older gaming models and hand held units collect dust on a remote shelf in someone’s bedroom, while the XBox and it’s accoutrement play out on the 120″ screen which graces the wall of our media room, otherwise known as the center of our indoor entertainment mecca.
This whole addiction to electronics is disturbing to me for several reasons. First, the fact that my kids have absolutely NO CLUE how to entertain themselves unless it involves a screen and buttons is ridiculous. Example: We have desperately wanted a pool in the back yard for years (summers in Texas are HOT and L-O-N-G) so now that we have one you would think the kiddos would languish in it’s beautiful cool water [buzzer sound!] Nope! If I am lucky they will get in it once or twice A WEEK and prattle around bitching “how much longer Mom” until I am driven to insanity and tell them to swim ten laps and then go away so I can sit by the pool in peace. Second, there is literally NOTHING under the Christmas tree. When I was a kid (and there were only 3 of those at my house), I can remember like a million gifts under the tree when we woke up Christmas morning. And trust me, the ‘Santa’ who visited our house was an average Joe (no offense Dad). Nowadays ya buy a coupla games and the latest system and it’s WAY over Santa’s budget and 3/4 of the underpart of the tree is still completely bare. And last, but certainly not least, is the lack of face-to-face socialization this generation of kids has. As a result of that you have many who share thoughts or pictures that shouldn’t be posted in public, or others who end up having social anxieties because they spend all their free time in their room hanging out on the computer.
In my heart I know the root of the problem is not the electronic gadgets themselves. The issue is moderation. If my kids were to play an hour or so of video or computer and then take the dogs for a walk, play tennis or swim outside, maybe play an hour or two more of games, then move on to something else…I don’t know, jump on the trampoline or read a book, WHATEVER. The point is unless I have signed them up for a class or a camp they don’t like to leave the house or know what to do with themselves unless it involves an electronic game. It is pathetic! Not to mention costly.
Ultimately I realize it is my fault for lacking a backbone. I have always said the toughest part of parenting is being consistent. And some days I am up to the battle more than others. I am sure I am not the only parent who feels that way. But this situation (at least at my house) is getting out of control, especially during summer break. In my opinion, technological advances are great in a lot of ways, but quite damaging in others.
I know with all the plastic surgeons in Dallas there’s gotta be someone out there that specializes in installing backbones…can someone send me a recommendation? Oh, and by the way, as I sit here editing this post I’ve got a 9-year-old breathing down my neck wanting the computer back so he can play Minecraft. Grrrr.