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.
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?