Do You Let Your Kids Use Phones?

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Do you let your kids use phones? Sometimes?

 

When I was pregnant with M, one of the things I wanted to do as a parent was not let her get hooked on devices early on. I wanted her to get hooked on books, toys and activities that would help in her physical and mental development. Why I even fantasied about her falling in love with books when she was just four months old. I would look at kids asking their parents for tablets or phones to watch their favourite cartoons who willingly obliged. In my mind, I would tell myself – Not going to happen with me. But little did I know then that it was just wishful thinking? I was just a naive pregnant lady probably judging other parents without having a clue as to what parenting is. I had no clue as to how exhausting parenting is going to be.

 

For the first six to seven months, it was just as I had planned. She didn’t need rhymes to sit quietly or have her dinner. Yes, it was just the calm before the storm. Things gradually began changing when I went back to work. From trying to keep her occupied just for a few minutes one evening with rhymes so that I could do my chores after coming back from work, it gradually but surely became my go-to weapon to take a breather, attend that client call or just prepare her dinner.

 

Every day I told myself that it’s only for a few minutes. I told myself that as she grows older I’ll gradually reduce the time or not resort to this. I made myself believe that it was just temporary. But who was I kidding? Form just a few minutes one day, it has now become a few minutes almost every day.

 

Books on parenting just talk about the ideal scenarios. Why even blogs do the same. Giving your child a smartphone to watch rhymes is handing them cocaine or some such is what you’ll get to read. Maybe because devices are addictive. Makes sense. These books and blogs tell us we should not do this and we shouldn’t do that. For a long time, I thought I must be doing something wrong. Why wasn’t I being able to be a perfect parent like them? Well, it’s only recently that I have realised it’s not possible for an ordinary parent to be like the parents in these books and blogs. I have huge respect for them but I don’t think I can be one of them.

 

Is it really realistic to think that in this era of technology we can keep our kids away from our phones? #Parenting Click To Tweet

 

It annoys me that nobody talks about what parents end up doing unsuspectingly. Everyone talks about abstract ideas, the perfect scenarios. But hey, who is perfect? Neither the children nor the parents. Yes, take my word for it. Or, very few are in reality, if at all. There is this ridiculous standard that parents apparently need to measure up to these days. And I honestly don’t have the energy or the time to work towards that. I much rather settle being a flawed parent and have my wits about me.

 

The truth is I literally don’t have time on weekdays. So, after coming home from work when I need to finish my chores like making her dinner, washing her lunch boxes, folding the laundry, simply changing my clothes or even going to the bathroom, I need her to be engaged. Now that engagement can be in the form of her toys but even for that, if the rhymes are being streamed on the television, I get to do my work without interruption. Then when I want to have my dinner with M still awake and S stuck at work, I give her my phone so that she can watch her rhymes there. Yes, so that at least I can have my dinner in peace. So, yes, I have become one of those parents who hand devices to their child willingly on occasions. And before you judge me, let me tell you why we parents do this.

 

We are tired. No, scratch that. We are perpetually tired. Consider this as a template for a normal routine for parents, especially if they are workings mothers like me. My morning starts at 6 am and even before that how well I sleep depends on M. So, after waking up early often with minimal shut-eye, after going through all the motions to get us to the daycare and office on time, after working my arse off at the latter, I still can’t come back home to sip wine while my daughter dutifully sits with her toys or her books. She’s often cranky or difficult to handle. And I still have to get work done for her and for everyone at home. So, I grasp at straws, at anything that can keep her occupied. And that’s where rhymes on television or the phone come in. When I want her to have her dinner and playing rhymes helps me achieve that, I go for it. Initially, I used to judge myself for doing this but not anymore. I’m only human and it’s fine.

 

In a perfect world, my daughter would have become a book crazy toddler by now. But that didn’t happen and trust me it’s not due to the lack of trying. No matter how many books I buy for her, I cannot force her to like it. Things happen at their own pace and if they are meant to happen. And I need my time. So, even though they say it’s good to let your children get bored so that they find out for themselves what they like or dislike, the thing is sometimes parents are too exhausted to wait for that enlightenment to happen. We are always on a schedule, always on our toes and if it’s a damn rhyme on the phone for a few minutes that can let us have a moment’s respite then so be it. It has still not become an addiction for M but that can change any day. Until then, I’m going to try to keep it that way but then what do I know. Moderation is the ley and I’m going to try doing that.

 

So, yes, to answer the question I asked at the beginning, I let my daughter see rhymes on my phone sometimes and I’m not going to feel guilty about it because even though a parent, I’m only human. In fact, I’m a work-in-progress parent and not the perfect parent you read about in books and blogs.

 

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16 thoughts on “Do You Let Your Kids Use Phones?

  1. Hey Naba, I completely understand the exhaustion that comes with parenting and if you’re working full time that’s the load doubled or quadrupled, really. I don’t judge parents (or at least I try not to) because I know it’s tough to do everything and do it well.

    Ever since Gy was a kid, we made a conscious choice to keep her away from devices, only because we had the bandwidth to ensure that and make it work. Both V and I agreed on this so that made a difference. The thing I’ve found is that the earlier you give them the devices, the higher the chance of them getting hooked to it or replying on it for entertainment. Plus it leads to higher levels of distraction as they grow older.

    I agree that moderation is the key here, so don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty. Do what works for you and your family.
    Shailaja Vishwanath recently posted…10 Reasons to move to Self-Hosted WordPressMy Profile

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey with me. Your schedule sounds exhausting. And, if your child is happy just hearing rhymes on your phone, that is quite OK.

  3. With Parenting you learn on the job, so no pre conceived thought processes help. Also, with us adults being so dependant on gadgets that we can’t let go of them, I honestly don’t think we could stop the kids from getting hooked to them too.

  4. I completely understand where you’re coming from, Naba. Our parenting style and times are totally different from the previous ones and shouldn’t be judged.

    However, i don’t agree with the fact, that we can expose our kids to devices, especially mobiles which are held so close to the eyes. My daughterter is 2.5 yo and she doesn’t know how to unlock our phones. Even if our phones are in her reach she is least bothered.

    Don’t mind my saying the above and believe me, I do understand your plight of being a working mom and taking care of your house. m a full time blogger and so have to 24*7 handle my kid, house, and work simultaneously. Yet, I believe if we want we can keep gadgets away and make our children play otherwise.

    Not that my daughter doesn’t watch rhymes. She does but only on TV which we connect through Chromecast. So, she is enjoying rhymes, on a big screen, and at a good distance. This way at times, she even watches rhymes for like over two hours without me getting worried.

  5. I completely understand where you’re coming from, Naba. Our parenting style and times are totally different from the previous ones and shouldn’t be judged.

    However, i don’t agree with the fact, that we can expose our kids to devices, especially mobiles which are held so close to the eyes. My daughterter is 2.5 yo and she doesn’t know how to unlock our phones. Even if our phones are in her reach she is least bothered.

    Don’t mind my saying the above and believe me, I do understand your plight of being a working mom and taking care of your house. m a full time blogger and so have to 24*7 handle my kid, house, and work simultaneously. Yet, I believe if we want we can keep gadgets away and make our children play otherwise.

    Not that my daughter doesn’t watch rhymes. She does but only on TV which we connect through Chromecast. So, she is enjoying rhymes, on a big screen, and at a good distance. This way at times, she even watches rhymes for like over two hours without me getting worried.

    And I am saying this because I do this. With just a lil extra effort we can give our kids device free early years.

    Have written a post on this too. http://liveityoung.com/5-doable-and-proven-parenting-practices/

  6. I am so happy you wrote this post, Nabanita! I am not a parent but I often read posts/articles on how parents ought to bring up their kids, etc. The picture they paint is perfect, flawless…everything that real life is not!
    You have such a busy schedule and you are doing your best to work through it all. Moreover, it’s your life and your child..nobody has any right to pass judgements on your way of bringing up your child. Hand her the phone if it’s going to give you a few moments of respite, or time to finish chores. You know what your journey is all about. If anyone so much as mentions it, just shut the door on their face!
    Hugs to you, girl!
    Shilpa Gupte recently posted…Tumhari Sulu – Film Review.My Profile

  7. Luckily gadgets were not so hot when the elder son was born. But yes, we needed the television as distraction for him. He used to love watching ads and we would flip channels while feeding him and also let him watch some cartoons. As a nuclear family, we had no other support to look after our child, hence we did resort to these shortcuts to get some breathing space and time for mundane things like going to the toilet or eating dinner.

    Both my kids are not addicted to gadgets. I was strict about giving them time for their games. Apart from that yes they do browse the net occasionally and also see videos etc. Let’s not aim to be ideal. Then everything falls apart. Also, let’s do what works in our family. You are doing just fine.

  8. I can understand how being bone tired can let a Mom do something to keep a child safely occupied. I think the problem comes when parents are constantly using gadgets as a substitute or an incentive for children to eat, etc

  9. I don’t want Cygnet to get hooked on phones or my ipad, but I do find the ipad has become quite a critical incentive to get Cygnet to eat or to allow me to do my make up and get ready for work in the mornings. I don’t think he watches too much – we get our and do things a lot too, but I am quite reliant on the devices sometimes. This is not the ideal parenting that I thought I would aim for before I had a baby, but reality soon kicks in… Pen x #AnythingGoes
    Pen recently posted…The joy of being a single parentMy Profile

  10. I am myself so addicted to my phone… I don’t know what my kids would turn out like .
    I am no one to judge… Parenting is hard, every single parent that I have met struggle. And they struggle with similar issues. Plus you need to look after your own welfare as well. I believe as long as everything is done in moderation, there’s no harm.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…The snorkelling debacleMy Profile

  11. I’m proud of you for writing this.

    Honestly, I was one of those non-parents who judged parents who used technology to keep their children busy. Then, I babysat my niece one day. I totally get what you are saying. Kids need to be distracted with something to get your chores done. Or to make them eat, or play! I know it is not easy at all, but what has to be done, has to be done. As long as parents don’t rely only on technology to keep their wards busy, I think it is fine. Take them out to the park once in a while and let them have the phone while you get your work done. No harm in what you are doing.
    Soumya recently posted…Dance With MeMy Profile

  12. I also used to be one of those people who thought I would never let my kids have too much TV or be on the computer for too long and such. I have a teenager and a 10 year old and they both have phones, computers and game consoles. Oddly, the computer is used the most while TV is hardly ever watched but even with the computer, I try not to let them on it too much but now that they are getting older, it’s getting harder to keep them from it so while it’s not ideal, this is the way of life now and I have to accept it. I have developed the philosophy that as long as we are doing something active for a half hour every day at the minimum, I’m good but even with that it’s hard because of work and school. They are active at school though during the day so that makes me feel a little better. I’m right there with you though. Reality is technology is part of our every day now and we parents have to do what we have to do. #mg

  13. Parenting is a permanent work in progress. We all start out on this journey with an ideal scenario in mind and we are invariably diverted along the way. Mine are teens but like many others we have used distractions whether the tv or a tablet to keep our younger children occupied whilst we do something. I remember a trip to our local restaurant for Sunday lunch many years ago when ours were younger and so my husband and I could have an extra glass of wine and linger a while longer we gave our children a tablet to keep them quiet. Mark from pop band Take That happened to walk past, he stopped and said he wished he had done the same as he was having to leave lunch with his friends to take his kids home because they were so disruptive. Don’t beat yourself up! Needs must sometimes. #mg

  14. This very topic is going to get more and more difficult as time and technology progress. We need to establish our boundaries now, while there still are some to establish! #mg xo

  15. We are all works in progress, it is how we grow, adapt and learn what does and doesn’t work for us. I too had ideals as a pregnant woman and a new mum, some I stuck to, and others I totally threw away. My children have time I devices, I still struggle with it, more for the social media aspect now that I have a teenage daughter, but luckily so far I have kept her from being too exposed. Never be hard on yourself, we are great mums! #mg
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…finding tradition #mummyshotMy Profile

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