The 21st century has brought so much new technology to us that options of how to keep the kids busy is limitless. Tired parents (or in our case grandparents) are lucky to have access to countless educational television programs and digital games that can hold a child’s attention for hours. But, as the adults in charge, it is important for us to be mindful of the importance of keeping a balance.
Over the holidays two of our grandchildren came for a visit. It was wonderful but, as much as I hate to admit it, we did get tired. Keeping an almost six year old girl and an 10 year old boy happy and busy was a challenge at times. We had compiled a list of things to do that would appeal to both kids and for the most part everyone was happy. Truthfully, after spending most of the day out and about it would have been great to be able to come home and collapse, but of course that was not an option. Even though both kids were on a school break, our 10 year old still had some homework to do. He had to do his daily reading.
It would have been easy for us to turn him loose on the computer since there are web sites available that would provide him material to read and then, through multiple choice questions, test whether he had comprehended what he read. Yes, easier for us, but not necessarily what’s best for him. The computer may test his comprehension of the material read, and that’s fine for what it does, but it doesn’t engage him in conversation. It’s conversation that helps to develop his ability to express himself verbally; to develop his critical thinking skills through dialogue; and to learn how to interpret body language. It’s these skills that will help him communicate more effectively as he goes through life.
Technology is truly wonderful but it’s only part of our kids’ world. It’s up to us as parents to make sure that it remains only a part and that technology is balanced with human interaction.