The Art of Raising a Whole Child in the Digital Age

Posted 2/23/2013

Hello Families,

  I have been struggling for years to find the perfect one-liner for the rationalization of the young child's ample use of technology: "Well, that's our world now.... What can we do?.... We need to start them as young as possible...." Instead of this throw in the towel attitude, I feel we as parents have to become a giant filter for our children. This is huge! It is the fog under the door and if we are not careful, our children will be lost in its haze. Resulting in a obscure vision of themselves and the world around them.

  When my daughter, Sequoia, was small, I thought TV was okay if not too much and if the content was appropriate. As I looked deeper and became a part of the Waldorf Community, I quickly realized that it was the ACT of watching, period. Anything on a screen, regardless of content, is simply too much for the young child. Frequent exposure to these rapid flickering images, diminish a child's natural capacities for attention and memory development. Both of which are essential for learning. The young child needs to create their own images first and foremost which is done through play. When simple natural things are readily available, the child fosters deep creativity and imagination. Both of which are essential to innovative thinking. In contrast, a heavy diet of ready made computer images and programmed toys shuts down imaginative thinking. Hmm... so what will truly help them navigate this very complex world we live in? NOT MORE SCREEN EARLIER! I just read that the Minnetonka School System wants every student, 1st grade on up, to have an ipad. This is the wrong direction for our children! This is like building a house without any foundation. Children need to figure out how to be in their body, how to be in the natural world and how to bond with others BEFORE entering the world of technology.

  So what can we as parents do to lessen the effects of media and have a more balanced home life? Awareness is key, keep track of your child's screen time. Here at Sweet Waters Childcare, I ask that children avoid the screen during the week and limit use on weekends. Of course, the ideal would be little to none at all. Be mindful of what is happening in your home, is something always on in the background? Children are much more sensitive to this. What may be white noise or even comforting for adults, can be very overwhelming and upsetting for the child. Welcome the quiet into your home. It is much more relaxing for all. Be aware of your own screen use especially in the presence of your child. Our families deserve us to be fully present, a true gift for all!

  Well, okay so it is not the one-liner that I had hoped for but this topic requires much, much more than that. We, as parents, need to speak openly and honestly about this very complex issue we are facing. The wonderful thing is, it's fairly easy to attain; you don't need to go live in a cave in order to do this : ) Just look around and pay attention to what is going on in your home. By turning things off and putting the distracting toys up and away, you open the space for the imagination to flourish. So sit back, watch and listen, your child will amaze you with their very own creations. Now that's entertainment!

With Love and Peace,

Kelly Waters