How I Make Sure Technology Impacts My Kid For Good, Not Bad

Kaeleigh Phillips knows that technology is here to stay, but that doesn't frighten her. Finding a balance between the virtual and physical world is key to her parenting.

As I watch my daughter play on her fake computer that she built out of craft materials, it makes me realize that gadgets are everywhere in her life. 
Children today are watching their parents use smartphones and laptops constantly, and it appears that it is impossible to get away from kids being completely immersed in it. At the same time, if I were to try to keep my daughter away from technology completely, it would deny her access to the modern world we live in. So as a parent, how do we manage a balance between technology and growing up with other forms of entertainment? 
Nature is one of life’s greatest teachers. Environmental guru Rachel Carson once said, “I sincerely believe for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel when introducing a young child to a natural world. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil”. 
One of the most important lessons I can give my daughter is to provide her with opportunities to interact with nature. When children are in the woods or on a hike, they are not overstimulated (a negative side effect I’ve noticed with kids who use gadgets too often) and are getting physical exercise as well. We often walk to natural areas and learn about how the natural world works, but for busy parents I think getting to a park even once a week as a family is an overwhelmingly positive experience. 
I limit my daughter’s time with technology. At five years old, she has minimal interest in playing games on my phone or computer and I make sure it is a very rare and special experience. Only if we are on transit for a long period of time or a distraction is temporarily needed, then I will pull out a game. I always make sure the games are educational and have some benefit to her growth. It has been determined that children don’t learn as well from online tools as face to face interaction. I make sure to teach her letters and numbers in person because relying on apps to educate children is not appropriate in my parenting opinion. 
As a mom, I also try and limit my technology use in front of my daughter. She watches me text or use my computer, and wants to be just like mommy. My daughter even mentioned the other day that she was ‘swiping’ her thoughts away because she had too many things to think about and say. The language we are using every day is even changing, and it is impacting the way kids communicate with parents and other children. I put away my phone and computer as much as possible to give her my full attention, and show her that face to face interaction is the most important way of interacting, instead of virtual speak. 
Technology is here to stay. It is a part of our lives, and accepting that is critical as a parent. Instead of becoming reliant on technology to entertain and teach kids or rejecting it completely, striking a balance between technology and a natural life is key. Discard your phone or laptop every once in a while, and get down on your hands and knees to immerse yourself in a game of imaginary fairy people in the park with your little one. It feels great and it teaches kids everything they really need to know in life. 

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