The new generation children have access to information and technology that, when I was born, was not yet a possibility and as such our children are exposed to the likes of iPADs, Androids and ALOT of TV.
When I grew up in rural South Africa, we had a TV but it only work for specific hours during the evenings, but even then it was a fight to get me into the house when the sun went down. On the farm we spent most of our days in the African sun (hence all my freckles) either horse riding, fishing or driving tractors. All of this changed though once I went to boarding school in Komga http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komga , well actually not really, we were encouraged to send as much time outside on school grounds as possible, play as many sports as we could and we took that rather seriously. Over weekends when we were home it playing tennis on Saturday afternoons at the Bolo tennis courts (there is no link to this area in South Africa due to its rural and very tiny nature) and the rest of the weekends horse riding as much as possible. Once I went to high school, I did not spend much time home as I did when I was younger due to sporting commitments but I was always up to something.
I might be rambling but Im trying to draw a comparison to children of today, and yes I know the world is a different place and yes I understand that we live in the Middle East, and what I have found is that although all the technology is great for our kids to connect to an invaluable source of information I cant but not question what are going to be the long term effects of this?
All these electronic gadgets have been around for 10 -15 years yes but never have the youth spent so much of their time constantly in iPads, cellphones and Xboxes and my question is are we creating a blue print for the next super generation or are we encouraging lazy children to become lazy adults?
Especially living in Dubai it is very difficult for parents to try discourage their children spending copious amounts of screen time, and the proverbial “But Mom, Andrew has one and he is getting higher scores than me in Minecraft” but surely as a parent you should have the ability to discipline your children to realizing that there is more to life than online gaming? Im not perfect in this regard, I constantly have my cellphone at the ready and enjoy setting down for a good movie, and often Daniel will ask to watch a movie and I will let him especially now that summer was enveloped us. But during the winter season getting that little boy indoors is like fighting the Kraken and he really struggles during the hot days with the fact he has to stay indoors. But this is where in Dubai indoor play areas have become so useful, we head out to Extreme Fun ( http://www.extremefunuae.com/aboutus.htm) when ever we can and of course the new rage in Dubai is Bounce (http://bounce.ae/).
According the a new survey the average 10 year old has access to more than 5 screens at any time.Writing in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, an expert Dr Sigman says a child born today will have spent a full year glued to screens by the time they reach the age of seven. To me that is unacceptable, children at the age of seven and younger should be encouraged to take up a sport, an instrument or find a creative outlet? But do we blame parents or society? In my opinion parenting is not a fad and it is not a chore, we have chosen to become parents and it is our duty to ensure that we prepare and equip or children to be the best they can in the life that awaits them. Yes technology is important but so is the ability to socialize, make cognitive decisions and to know that life will not always go their way.
So tonight I will practice what I preach and as I walk through that front door, my phone is going on to silent and my son and I are going to spend our evening ready his favourite books, no TV or Galaxy and I know he will be a better person for it and so will I!