The collage above shows how my brood spend their free time when they are not glued to the TV or computer! ;o
This thought- depriving my brood- was running through my mind, thanks to a local news program. It posed the question if tween these days are too plugged into electronic gadgets and if they are too materialistic. Having two children in the tweens age group, this made me pay close attention. Adding to my thoughts was a recent discussion thread on the parenting forum that I follow.
I also asked Princess for her opinion- well more specifically what her peers had and how she felt about not having the same ‘essentials’. She was candid that at times she felt lacking but it has no effect on her happiness. She admits that she has much fun as her friends (if not more, me will protest ;p) with or without the ‘must-have’ gadgets of the little ones.
A recent column in the local papers shared my sentiments- being anti gadget or even anti toys in my situation. Knowing how to do the cycle kick on virtual world, as much difficult it is, is hardly something to brag about! I have been surprised to hear increasingly about how the very young ones- as early as before turning 2- can be adept at using iphone or ipod touch. Me- I am still a late adopter ;p and very happily so. I thought parents were being over indulgent til a close friend shared how she has more toddler apps on her iphone than apps for her own use. Hearing from someone very close made me understand the parents’s predicament better.
But I still believe its a matter of (parenting) choice. I accept that we cannot run away from technology. My current project requires me to work with e-books, not a personal delight. As much as it is pragmatic to embrace technology, we need to bear in mind that some time-old methods are still the best. I am still shying away from touchscreen phones (though the ipod touch new gen is very much coveted in this family ;)). These new gen phones simply remove the tactile factor though I have friends pointing out that my fingers are just too stubby for the onscreen buttons- i begrudgingly agree ;o The present day advanced tech just brings to mind those futuristic human characters from the Disney movie: Wall-E ;p
Just as some parents are proud that their offspring have or are proficient with the latest gizmos, I am even prouder that my brood are doing very fine without them! Of course having a bigger disposable income makes it easier to splurge on ipods/ iphones, PSPs, Wiis and what not, and thats when a stronger will comes into play. I recently spoke to a father who has a modest income and he sounded proud that he was able to get his 6 year old son the ipod touch so that he does not feel deprived. Many parents and even grandparents indulge the young one to make up for their ‘loss’ during their younger days. But sometimes, exposing children to these technology so young may actually deprive them of using their imagination to the fullest. Their imagination is the most powerful tool for their entertainment now and for problem-solving later in life. Thats why Lego is the all time best toy out there! No, we have not got it cos this mummy learnt this very late and instead the brood make do with plenty of cardboard (ala the first family’s style- the recent revelation was a welcome affirmation of my hoarding habit ;))
That is not to say tech toys do not have their merits. My take is that everything has its season and time. For my brood, i rather they enjoy the outdoors, be resourceful with what they have, treasure the limited toys that come by their way. I can only hope that my brood understand my reasons and are not resentful for such choices.
I share one of the many videos I have of my brood at work/ play. This was taken before Sunshine turned 5 and he took the initiative to select the right tool and went about the job. HE was troubleshooting some bike issue, without any prompting from anyone in the family. Mummy could only gape in amazement… tell me: does the video show you a deprived boy?