The Problem with Technology

I am worried about how children deal with technology.

As a blogger mum and someone who spends half her life in a day online multi-tasking checking Facebook, updating statuses, emailing, texting, googling, while working online all at the same time. Technology has been a very useful and helpful invention, but a dangerous one as well, if we do not make an effort to regulate our usage of it.

The past week, two challenges have been thrown in my path to highlight the problem of technology and to test how I should manage it with my child.

Screen Shot 2014 04 10 at 6 39 30 PM

Minecraft or Nightmares?

The first one was a call from the teacher who called me one evening, to ask if K was going through any difficulties at home. Her feedback was K seemed listless and could not focus in class for the past 2 weeks. He didn’t used to be like that and she wondered if his changes in behavior had anything to do with some issues at home.

My first assumption was, his mind could be distracted by plans for the upcoming weekend, thinking of things to build in the ‘Minecraft’ game on PS3.

After the call, I told K that I just spoke to his teacher on the phone, and he burst into tears. I calmly asked him why he was facing this problem in school and probed if it was his obsession with Minecraft that he was distracted with, or was it something else?

He told me that he wasn’t able to keep up in class as he has been feeling really tired, since he has been waking up numerous times at night due to disturbed sleep. I recalled that the past 2 weeks, he has been going to bed close to 9.30-9.45pm daily. And deep into the night, I have been woken up by his sleep talking and watched him tossed and turned in his sleep.

So was it his distraction with Minecraft or disturbed sleep affecting him in school? We prayed to give him restful sleep that night, and I will be evaluating his time spent on PS3 and iPad on the weekends.

He spends an average of 1.5 – 2 hours each Saturday and Sunday playing on games PS3, or watches Mindcraft videos on iPad. On weekdays, he is not allowed to play games and watches about 1.5 hours of TV a day.

Should I be reducing his time spent on the weekends on the gaming console and iPad further? It is tempting, but I think I will be exploring other measures before deciding.


The One with the Naked Women on Youtube

The second one was with a neighbour whom K has been playing with for the past week, a Korean American boy, J.

It is a routine for K to visit the estate’s playground 3 times a week from 5 – 7pm, however since mid last week, J (who rarely joins in with the rest of the children in the playground) came to our door on evening, asked if K could go to his house to play. Seeing that he was a year younger than K, I allowed K to go to his home twice last week, without supervision

Yesterday early evening, J came to our door with his domestic helper. His domestic helper said that J’s mum was very angry as she found a video on her iPad of ‘Naked women’ and implied that K was the one that influence J to see this, since J cannot spell.

A convenient assumption as the older child will always be blamed for influencing the younger one, and what a way to acquaint yourself with your child’s friend’s mum…


I questioned the boys, both denied it. The exchange between the two boys consisted of K’s teary and worked up response of, “He was the one with the iPad, why would I want to see naked women. He went to the closet, ask me to go inside with me and watched the iPad. I want to vomit when I see that!” While J, said with a straight face said, “It is not me, I am not lying. He is the one.”

I told J’s domestic helper that the iPad cannot be used by a child unsupervised and moving forth, K will not be visiting their home and vice versa for J. If J wants to meet K, he can see him downstairs at the playground.

After they left, I asked K when this happened and why he didn’t tell me about it. He said the incident happened when he was in J’s room. J got the iPad, climbed into the closet and told K to go with him. Then told him, “This naked woman video is so cool.” According to K, he closed his eyes while J finished watching the video on the iPad. K didn’t tell me about the incident as he was afraid that I would scold him for that.

Now, as a parent, will you choose to trust your child? Or someone else’s report of your child? Hearing K’s side of the story, he is either telling the truth or a really good liar.


Could this be my child’s problem?

K isn’t an ‘angel’ but I understand him well enough to know that ‘Naked woman’ pictures will have no appeal for him. I don’t think he is even curious about this, since he has seen pictures of this nature through paintings and art. We have a barely dressed woman picture on the wall in the bathroom, another statue of the same kind in our weekend home, both of which we have discussed about before.

And supervising his use of iPad and online, the ‘viewing history’ for the device has never shown that he has ventured into videos or website of this nature.

His time online is so limited, that I think he would spend his time seeing the blocky, half naked Minecraft characters in their ‘printed-hearts’ underpants, than real-life photos of barely dressed women.


I chose to trust my son and this incident confirmed that K should stop going to J’s house.

If J’s mum thinks that my child is the one with the problem, so be it. I just hope she manages this with her son and not conveniently sweep it under the carpet. I don’t think she would accept any form of advise from me to supervise J’s usage of her iPad, since her conclusion is that K is the one influencing her child.


The Problem with Technology

Now I wonder, why would 6-7 year olds be interested in pictures of naked women?

Unsupervised use of technology is likely the culprit for this issue, since video pictures of naked people can be randomly featured in Youtube without a child knowing how to search for it in Google.

In a poll done in October 2013 about the use of internet, 94% of parents interviewed said that they allowed their kids unsupervised access to at least one device or online service like email or social networks. Most parents allow their kids access to gaming consoles and computers at eight eight. When it comes to kids under the age of seven;

– 41% of parents allow them to use a gaming console unsupervised

– 40% allow unsupervised access to a computer

– 29% of parents unsupervised use of a mobile apps

Spending half of my life online daily, I am fully aware of the dangers that lurk online for a child, as well as the risk with children being addicted to gaming or handheld devices.

Apart from limiting his time spent on the gaming console or iPad. It will be hard for K to get rid of me while he uses any technology device, at least for the next decade, since I will be watching him with eagle eyes to ensure that he never dabbles with questionable sites or videos.


Do share! Do you supervise your child’s use of technology? How many hours does your child get to be on the iPad or on the gaming console daily? How old do you think the child should be before parents can cease to supervise their online / gaming usage? 


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  1. I do supervise the kids time online and the most I will allow is 1hr max for the kids each day be it alone or watching together. My kids have no issue with seeing naked women pictures as they will not be overly excited about it as we have talked about the human body and it changes with them before. They too like K are more interested in looking at Minecraft videos and learning how to make better worlds in their own Minecraft games. I feel that the kid will only be able to be totally unsupervised if they really understand the TRUE dangers of being online etc and all the implications behind visiting undesirable sites. It all depends on the maturity level of the kid. I think I will only allow my kids that freedom when they reach Sec school
    Dominique Goh´s last blog post ..Writer’s Workshop: You Can Say that Again

    Rachel Reply:

    I agree, its worse when kids are not expose to it, and it becomes a forbidden fruit. Forbidden fruit always tastes the sweetest. It a good method that you have choose, to take a scientific angle.

  2. I feel your anxiety, totally. I, too, am very concerned about what my kids are watching on TV and the IPAD. Girls, especially, mature faster and start getting curious about all sorts of things at a very young age. I certainly do not want them to start googling and researching to find out answers to questions they are curious about, before I have the chance to properly explain it to them. It’s worrying, really!
    Kless´s last blog post ..Birthday Goody Bags Made Easy with 3M Tapes!

    Rachel Reply:

    I guess monitoring what they see online really will make the difference. I rather find out early then having my child secretly relishing on things that he/she should not be seeing.

  3. I think we all share the same kind of problem with children. As both my children own mobile phones, they are not allowed to use or charge their phones in their rooms. They also don’t have data plans so it’s another way of curbing usage outside home. As for ipads, they are password protected so they can only use it for a while when they ask. Computer time is capped at 2 hours on Sat and Sun. Strict enough? :p
    Adeline Oon´s last blog post ..I Will Protect My Integrity

    Rachel Reply:

    For pre-teens I think you are doing well with managing their time online.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. Indeed, it’s a situation that ANY parents these days can face, and should definitely be more aware of.

    Brie who is 2.5yo does not play any games (iPad, iPhone, computer). We don’t introduce them to her. She watches TV – only Disney Junior – with me in the same living room, around 1-2 hours a day.

    Anya and Vai (10yo and 7.5yo) each get 45mins of computer time a week, on Mondays usually. Only when they’re done with their school work etc.

    They can play games on the iPad and iPhone, but it’s random. Usually it’s no more than 30mins a day. Sometimes none at all. But there are days when they could spend 45 – 90 mins (when we have seminars / meetings, as they tag along =)

    I do look at what games they’d like to download. We avoid violence, or games where they need to have ‘Facebook’. We also avoid games where the girls can ‘flirt’ with the boys, kiss , dress up and go on dates with boys (*roll eyes* the kinds of games they make for little girls these days!).

    When it comes to going on the internet, the kids don’t surf all on their own. And they know the reasons why it’s not safe. So usually when Anya needs to do some research on certain topics for school projects, I’d usually do the googling together with her, and when I’ve found the page (a safe page), then I’ll let Anya read the page. It’s just too scary to see the kinds of pages (thumbnails) that appear when you google ‘anything’ (even ‘safe keywords’ can lead to obscene sites).

    Anyway. This is such a huge topic. Been thinking of blogging about this too.
    Perhaps I will after this…
    Leonny´s last blog post ..Books Deprived (Giveaway Voucher from NoQ Store)

    Rachel Reply:

    Looking forward to reading your sharing on this.

  5. If I were you, I’ll choose to believe my child too, especially the viewing history shows nothing. I think your control of Internet usage is appropriate and internet influence will always be our biggest fear for undesired content. Parents should be more aware of their kids’ online activities and not be too overly controlled either. I am sure J’s mum will know the truth very soon.
    Christy@kidsrsimple´s last blog post ..Ice-skating in Singapore – The Rink at JCube

    Rachel Reply:

    I hope J’s mum find out soon, its rather worrying especially she doesn’t know the fascination J has at this point!

  6. Hmmm. I felt compelled to comment because kid’s screentime is an issue I am passionate about. My kids (P2 and K2) watch TV once a week, ie about 1.5 -2 hours, enough for one full length cartoon. I allow them to play on the PC, but only the primary school’s Ask and Learn educational games or iPad games (maths or chinese practise) for the younger one. But they can only play once a month. (I am serious)

    They spend a lot of time playing together and reading or having fun outdoors.

    I am wondering why so many kids have so much screentime. I am not judging but curious. Because my kids are totally fine with that little screentime I allow them. To me, their time can be much better spent on a lot of other activities. All students learn PC use in school so I don’t see the need to expose them to it at home to teach them.

    Rachel Reply:

    I think it is dependent on your own usage of the computer or devices. My job revolves around me being online at least half a day, so my child is used to seeing me on the com or iPad, or some form of device daily, so its perfectly normal for him to want some screen time as well.

  7. My kids are still young. I limit each usage of the handheld device to 15 mins each time. And they get to use once a day on weekdays and average of 3 times on weekend. However, they do watch videos from their dad’s mobile phone when he sends them to school.

    Although my boy knows the password to my devices, he had to ask before he can use any. And yes, I will try to “join” them in their games or video. That is my way of monitoring what they are doing. Mine are still young now, I don’t know if they will still allow my involvement as they get older. We shall see.
    Jac´s last blog post ..Parenting: With VS Without Live-In Domestic Help

    Rachel Reply:

    It will be good to adjust as they grow older…

  8. i wonder why the mum didn’t come herself.. instead of sending the domestic helper over.. hmm.. Stressed ah! One more thing to worry about as my kids grow older!
    zhenzhu´s last blog post ..P1 Prep: Sleep For Brains!

    Rachel Reply:

    ZZ, don’t be stressed yet! there are many things that we can’t plan for that will happen, best to let things happen naturally and for our mom instincts to take over!