I remember the time when technology was first introduced in schools by batches and one of my clients shared her concern about her primary schooler learning solely from a mobile gadget. Back then, I was not a self-mastery life coach, I was a financial consultant and already had two children. The school that she sent her child to was one of the first to introduce tech.
My client was once a cheery and confident mummy who suddenly became worrisome and anxious about her child’s future. I could not understand her worries then, I simply listened and allowed her to vent her frustrations about the school she was referring to.
Now that we are already way ahead in terms of technological advancement compared to when we were at school, I began to embrace technology more and more. I had resisted technology at first, I was one of the mummies who would restrict the use of mobile gadgets when my sons were young, I only introduced mobile phones when they turned ten, that was until one day their teachers encouraged them to use the mobile phone for group projects.
I had gotten them a basic phone just to make sure that I could reach them and be updated on their whereabouts and wellbeing because my work schedule was erratic and I had relied on my maid to look after my first two when I was at work.
So yes, it was a relief that I could access my children through my mobile phone and back then I had a CCTV installed too.
In session six of K Mummy’s Focus group, I and three other mummies went ahead to discuss the topic, ‘Use of Tech, Mobile Gadgets and Social Media. Me and one of the mummies invited our teenage sons to sit in the sessions too and our sons had contributed to the topic too.
I asked them the following questions:
Q: What are the disadvantages of tech, mobile gadgets and soc media?
It could become a distraction and a time-waster.
Yes if we do not watch our time, we may unconsciously be glued to our gadgets day and night and we may not realise where our time went. I can also clearly see how gadgets can easily be a distraction especially when it becomes a common scene to see pedestrians crossing the road with their eyes glued to their mobile phones and drivers checking on their social media notifications while driving! Such is the time we live in today.
Affects relationships and communication.
I am guilty of this. My work requires the use of technology and my mobile phones. Sometimes I must confess that the mobile phone is a lot more interesting since I ‘have the world’ at my fingertips. I can also be a workaholic and I must say that I’ve come a long way to be where I am today, to create a balance in every area of my life and not be too fixated on just one or few areas of my life. It requires me to bring myself to conscious awareness to make the effort to connect with my loved ones.
It could cause addiction.
We are social creatures, the funny thing is that with the existence of social media, we become more socially active albeit digitally. Technology and social media do help us to be more connected to one another in a convenient way and social media has a lot of feel-good components such as likes, receiving comments and engagements and that could make us be addicted to it. Lets us not forget content such as pornography and gaming! I shared in my previous blog that I was a gamer and I remembered my mom yelling and pulling out the wires from the bracket just to make me stop gaming. So yes, experiencing first-hand addiction allow me to manage my children’s usage better too so it is all good. Experience can be our best teachers.
Exposure to all types of vices.
Yes, I have already mentioned pornography and not only that, you can find all sorts of information including some lethal information too, if you watched an episode from CNA, you will also learn how our children could easily find information on how to effectively kill themselves too. These are all taboo topics in my community and I would love that we can talk about them and address these real issues more openly too.
Exposure to lifestyles that may not be in alignment with our values and culture.
One mummy shared this concern in the discussion. Yes, each of us was brought up with different sets of values and principles in life and some of them, we hold on to so dearly that we would want our children to carry on with the tradition of upholding our culture and values. We can have an open and honest conversation about this with our children and take the time to promote understanding as to why they need to upkeep their values and tradition. Children can be inspired by our passion to preserve our values and practices and it may be easier to encourage them through our passion, education and understanding, not through forceful implementation.
- We may not be aware of the subtle subconscious conditioning to alter our views about certain subjects.
One mummy shared that she would only go online to look for healthy recipes and sometimes, the person who wrote the recipes would have a different agenda and would include subtle messages on politics and social standings. This could post to be harmful not only to adults but our children too.
- We may be susceptible to inaccurate information online. One mummy shared that she would do thorough research and would go with the majority. I challenged that method because the majority does not necessarily represent the accuracy of a particular subject and it could just be based on personal preferences that happen to be a popular view. In this sense, we need to exercise precaution, common sense and critical thinking when we consume information online and always check with the real experts especially when it comes to matters concerning life and death such as health and safety, for instance, diet recommendations or embarking on a huge project such as building a home from scratch.
Q: What are the advantages of tech, mobile gadgets, and social media?
Technology keeps both children and adults entertained. It makes information be easily available for us to find out about everything and anything. For example, as parents, we can learn alternative ways of parenting besides the traditional way of blindly following how our parents parent us.
Access to the worldwide web easily allows kids to learn more and sometimes, they would share with their parents what they learnt online and in a way, use of technology promotes communication through the exchange of information. Isn’t it precious that parents now can learn a lot from their children too? Learning from children was not a common sight when I was growing up.
We can easily know what is going on around the world within seconds and we would never be left behind in terms of the affairs of the world or our community. One mummy shared that she and her son went for a virtual tour to a zoo in Europe. How cool is that? You don’t have to step out the front door to travel and in a way, you don’t need to pay to travel. I feel that in this aspect, virtual reality comes in handy when we want to visit places that are beyond our reach, especially during the current pandemic.
You can plan anything via apps such as YouTube and Google. One mummy shared that she would always plan before cooking or doing any new chores or projects. It can save us a lot of time when we know what ingredients to get or what items to get for any new projects.
It frees our time, for example, when it comes to cooking or ordering food, we can never run out of ideas about what to cook and how to prepare them and we have the option to have food be prepared and served to our doorstep. We can also shop online and it saves us time from having to travel to and fro just to buy the things we want. We can now spend more time with our loved ones thanks to technology.
Q: How do you manage your personal usage?
One mummy shared that she didn’t manage her usage especially the use of her mobile phone and social media as she would just go to social media whenever she has the free time to use it. She usually uses it for a specific purpose and she is not hooked to social media and she does not have the habit of checking her messages throughout the day. That explains why it’s hard to get her timely response. LOL. This mummy happens to be my sister.
Another mummy shared that she removed notifications from FB and IG as she does not want to be distracted. She is also very conscious of setting a time limit on her usage.
During the discussion, I shared that she could set a timer on her social media usage. I set mine to two hours and I shared that typically in a day, I spend less than two hours on social media.
I also follow those whose contents are aligned with my purpose and those whom I am closest to. All the others, I would unfollow because when we follow just about anybody, their contents may not serve our life purpose and that in itself is a distraction. I am all about living your life with a purpose. I mean come on, we only have 247 a day and we have an expiry date too.
Q: How do you manage your child’s usage?
Let them know in advance how much time they are allowed on the phone. Then when time is almost up, tell them again, ok 20 mins left. I can’t agree more with this, as parents, we need to be specific when we give our children instructions and be firm with the time limit too. I would include explaining the consequences of not adhering to the time limit. My boys would know that if by the third time that they did not keep their end of the bargain, I would confiscate their devices and they would only get to use them after they rectify their behaviours and I would return them their devices when they completed the tasks I assigned them to do, and thankfully, my sons would do what’s expected of them automatically because I have been consistently adopting this same approach. They would instantly know why and they take full ownership of their abuse of trust and responsibility and they would not fight or argue to have their devices back.
One mummy shared that she used to give her child ‘gadget time’ as a reward for their good work throughout the week and the gadget time falls on the weekend which posed as an issue too because family members often questioned her child for using mobile devices during family gatherings, as you know, weekends are typically spent with family and friends if you are not working on a weekend, in her defence, she shared that her child was not given any gadget during the weekdays and weekends was the only time given.
This is exactly why I love to have discussions like this so that we can see how each of us have diverse views about the use of mobile phones for our children and we can only learn to respect the choices of others and at the same time give ideas or recommendations through sharings. Typically after each discussion, the mummies would be left with an insight as to how they can move forward in their life or course correct when necessary without being forced to do so.
I would also like to add that I don’t always watch tv in fact, my children did not grow up seeing me watching much tv and the only media that they were exposed to when they were toddlers were counting videos and my eldest grew exceptionally fond of mathematics and my second is just naturally good at maths too. I bought them a lot of educational books and that was when I was rather strict about the use of mobile gadgets plus smartphones was not a thing then.
Now my sons are teenagers and the only social media account they have is Youtube and they use it to share their drawings. Prior to allowing them to have an account, I would restrict the contents that they are allowed to have access to. I had used a Parental Control app at the beginning and now, I only rely on my child’s mobile subscription plan that includes the Junior Protect plan. I know I may come off a little bit overprotective, it pays off. They don’t feel compelled to follow any TikTok trends or have any external pressures to be in trend. I don’t think they will lose out because they still do have access to what’s necessary and important especially in their areas of interest.
I also talk to them about social issues so that they are aware of the precautionary measures that I am taking and they can also feel safe to talk to me about anything and not having to rely solely on the internet for information.
On top of keeping communication open, I encourage them to spend time in nature, parks, outdoor activities so that they are in touch with mother earth and they can learn to destress to exercise too. At the age of ten, I had brought my son for a hiking trip at a mountain in Malaysia and it makes him appreciate the beauty of nature therapy.
As a family, we love to go cycling so having fun activities to do with family can be a healthy diversion or alternatives to their mobile phones. I recently bought family games so that my boys will never be left feeling bored being at home.
Now that I have three-year-old twins, I notice a shift in my parenting methods. Times have changed indeed, everyone has smartphones including the grandparents, as much as I would want to curb the use of mobile phones, with twins, I succumbed to giving in to them to watch their favourite cartoons because raising twins comes with its unique set of challenges that I was not prepared for.
I had longer downtime to recover from the labour and pregnancy.
Now that my twins are three-year-old and they can communicate and understand better, it is a lot easier to manage and explain things to them and I have slowly cut down on their mobile usage, never too late to correct our course. I do notice that when toddlers spend too much time on mobile phones, they get easily agitated and anxious. After some time of cutting down screentime by 80 per cent, their moods are better and they get to sleep easily too and their attention span doing tactile activities such as playing with their toys, play pretend and reading a book increases too by a lot!
I know children are now spending more time on mobile phones and it takes a lot of patience, support from your spouse and other family members to cut down the usage especially when the child threw a tantrum or have serious meltdowns when they do not have their mobile phones.
That’s basically what we discussed and I could end up writing a book about this topic alone so I am going to keep it brief and end it here.
You can check out the discussion I had with a parenting expert and certified conscious parenting coach, Jenny Ng by clicking on the following topic.
This happens to be my second Facebook live series and I was feeling nervous while recording it. I hope that you find the sharing in the video beneficial for you. This is me embracing technology in action.
Raising Children in Digital Age
Join us in the next discussion in K Mummy’s Focus Group.
Don’t forget to try on the homework too!