Tech and family life

author198 Jun 15, 2010

In today’s show, we asked people about how technology is a part of their family life and whether their use of technology distracted from their parenting.  Here are some of the responses we received from the Public Insight Network:

I work with technology all day and can get phone calls returned on my way home. When I get home from work, I don’t touch a computer or internet connection until the kids go to bed. I’d like to say it is only because I want to spend time with my kids, but honestly if I try and focus on something I am doing on my laptop, they will be in my lap punching the keyboard and grabbing the screen. They get my full attention until they go to bed. After they are down, my wife and I catch up on any work that we need to get done. Michael Fletcher, Mobile, AL


Our daughter is only a year and a half old, but Gracie’s favorite toy is her plastic cell phone. On long car trips, often the only thing to calm her is playing with a cell phone, a TV remote or a game controller. We’ve heard parents of little boys bewailing how their sons will make any stick or stone into a gun. Gracie will make anything—a shoe, a bar of soap, a scotch tape dispenser—into a cell phone. At such times, visions of our future flash before my eyes. Diana Abu Jaber, Miami, FL

Kids have meltdowns all the time. They get tired, impatient, hungry, confused, or sad. Parents have to tell their kids “just wait a second” all the time. It has nothing to do with technology. It’s part of juggling the lives of multiple people in a family. Just as I have to wait patiently for my child to put on her own shoes, or walk the long way to the car, or admire a dandelion, so must she wait for me to finish an email so I can pay the bills. Being a good parent has nothing to do with the technology you do or do not use, it has to do with the quality and time that you get to spend with your children.SerahRose Roth, Nashua, NH

As an elementary school teacher, I have seen countless parents come to drop off or pick up their children to and from school. If the parent is on a cell phone, they do not say goodbye or hello to their children, nevermind whatever staff person is there to speak to them. Additionally, I have had parents who have kept their cell phones on the table during conferences, and have paid more attention to the phone, than what I’m saying about their children. Parents have the focus on their conversations and NOT on what’s going on around them. Lauren Schexnider, Monroe, NC


I do get frustrated and ignore my children in order to finish reading online. I am aware that I do this and work hard to limit the time I am either online or on the phone. The times that I feel the worst about it are when my two children, aged 6 and 3, are having difficulty sharing or playing together. I do try to always help them, but I don’t always chose to help them before finishing whatever it is I am doing online. My youngest is very physical. If I ignore it for too long, he will end up hitting, kicking or biting the older sibling. It puts me in an awckward position of not knowing what was happening before the physical violence started. Karen Linder, Onarga, IL


Full-time nursing is a huge commitment and it requires six to eight hours a day of sitting in one spot. What do I do during that time? I play sudoku or the Moron Game, or one of the other many games I have on my ITouch. I also take that time to keep in touch with family and friends on Facebook while I live stream my local NPR station. What does my toddler do during that time? Well, I downloaded the entire first, second, and third seasons of Blues Clues onto my laptop and he’ll watch that or Curious George. He also runs around and does all of the exploring that a toddler will do. DeAnna Lowe, Pleasant Prairie, WI


I think we constantly need to evaluate and re-evaluate how we parent as technology creeps into our children’s lives. We still greatly limit what our children are exposed to, but now our 13 year old son has an ipod touch and a computer. It is not the computer that poses the problem, as that is for research, school papers and YouTube piano tutorials. I feel it is the smaller mechanisms that are the most challenging, as I refuse to be one of those parents whose child is walking around with earphones dangling from his head. I don’t want my child to be in his own world when the world is happening around him. So, I do feel like the “meanie” when I am constantly saying, “Take those out. Shut it off.” Lisa McCarthy, Long Beach, CA


I have grudgingly learned how to text as that is the preferred way to contact my 16-year-old son when he is away from home. I get a better, quicker response than when I leave a voice mail on his phone. If I want a really quick response, I text in ALL CAPS. In light of this, we have discussed how some messages can become misinterpreted because vocal or facial cues are missing from text messages. Also, some teens may be more willing to text a thought that they would never say in person or on the phone. This has brought up some interesting conversations between us. Suzy Changnon, DeKalb, IL


I grew up in the era of landlines and pay phones. However, it was a voice protocol technology, Ventrilo associated with World or Warcraft that allowed me and my teenaged son keep in touch with his older sister while she was attending school on the west coast. In fact our guild enjoyed the comic entertainment as we played WoW and chatted. We forged great friendships within the guild and kept in touch at the same time. Juliejohn Knott, Burke, VA


When I go to check email or facebook during the day my 14 month old wedges himself between me and the counter and pushes me away – a clear sign that I’ve been spending too much time there! I probably have put my older child in front of a movie more often so that I can have some computer time. I also rushed bedtime for a while so that I could have some time to watch a show on Hulu before bed. –Becky Long, Athens, GA

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