Technology and the kids

My kids don’t have much in the way of technology…actually, that isn’t true, but according to Mickey it is.  Minnie has a kindle fire and Mickey has use of a cell phone, and they share a laptop.  What they don’t have is unfettered access to technology.  The reasons are as follows: 1. Mickey can’t transition off of technology well – I mean asking, telling, warnings that time is coming up, etc. all fall on deaf ears and it will become a power struggle that requires physically removing the device from his hands.  2. They don’t need it – they will spend the rest of their lives on technology of some sort, and both kids would rather play outside than on a game – well, Mickey would probably rather do the game, but this is why he isn’t given one, because he loves to play outside. 3. Mickey is not responsible with anything – he loses and leaves everything he owns somewhere (bus, school, playground, store, etc. He is also known to get angry and hurl whatever is at hand, and I will not be replacing technology broken in anger. Those are the main reasons that technology around here is limited.  Minnie charges her kindle a couple times a year, so she couldn’t really care less.  Mickey is the issue. Here is our morning dilemma:

Mickey catches the bus at 6:40 in the morning.  In the afternoons he reads on the bus ride, but it is dark out in the morning, so that isn’t an option.  He is on the bus for about 50 minutes in the morning (15 just sitting in front of the school – I have no idea why). He is bored and hates the bus – he isn’t a napper.  The bus driver and bus monitor have asked him to bring technology and I have been stubborn in my refusal.  He does have a game pad, which is an electronic tablet with no screen, but about a dozen games.  He enjoys it, but says it has gotten boring.  He also has a regular kindle – no games or network – just books, but he has lost it several times and he doesn’t like the backlighting (it is an old one).

This morning, Mickey tried to take the cell phone – while the bus was waiting and he was supposed to be getting his coat. He got angry with me when I said no and was a perfect brat on the bus, from a behavioral perspective.  The driver called and asked me to get permission from the school to bring the phone.  I said no. The school doesn’t care if he brings the phone – they lock it up on arrival.  I have made the rule because Mickey gets heightened and overly excited on games – his brain starts racing and he gets wound up and I would rather his teachers not have to start the day with him like that.  I would also rather them not have to tackle him to get the phone away.

Am I wrong? His behavior on the bus would be better – no doubt.  Other than the likely complaints of him singing (which we already get, even without technology), though he tends to get really involved in the games and having to finish daily challenges, or this level, etc. But, his behavior at school and at home would be worse.  As a rule, I always place school behavior above all else, because he needs to learn and when his behavior is out of control, his school work suffers.  When his behavior is out of control he isn’t learning and he is blowing any chance of leaving the 50 minutes bus ride and getting to a school closer to home.

His bus driver is going to talk to his supervisor and I fear that we are facing a bus suspension.  This is immensely problematic because I can’t get Minnie and Mickey to school at the same time when they are 20+ minutes apart.  Minnie’s bus comes at 7:15 (and she can’t be dropped at school before that time either) and Mickey has to be at school at 7:30.  Minnie’s school requires that someone meet the bus in the afternoon, but I wouldn’t be able to unless I check Mickey out of school 30 minutes early every day. Oh yeah, and I have a job…

So, do I just give in and let the school deal with the fallout of the technology overload?  Do I stand strong and deal with the possible suspension and another 4 months of this crap on the bus?  I have repeatedly asked the bus driver and monitor to stop suggesting technology.  I have allowed him to take the phone once and it was as I feared.  His teacher emailed to let me know that he wouldn’t give it up as required.  Most days on the bus he is fine.  This morning he was running late, because he sneaked the phone upstairs and was playing on it late.  The phone will now be stored in a locked box when he doesn’t have permission to be on it.  I am just beyond frustrated and this is one of those things that I am not sure what the right thing is.

I should also mention, that while one kid has no real interest in technology, I am the opposite.  I live with my phone in my hand.  I make a living on technology.  I love technology.  But, I still feel firmly, that kids don’t need it.  My kids play outside nearly every day, weather permitting.  They ride bikes and scooters and now jump on their new trampoline.  During the summer they are in the pool or running with their friends and the dog. We do not own a gaming system since our wii broke, and I have no plans to change that.  They watch some tv, but not daily and usually only when it is too late to play outside or raining.  We have portable dvd players for the car, and they will use them for some of a road trip, but they also play the license plate game and I spy, etc.  They have a laptop for school work and occasional youtube videos – Minnie watched a very exciting one on how to build play dough cupcakes and cakes last night.  I think it is a healthy dose of technology without it overtaking their lives.

Am I being nuts or too strict with the technology restrictions? Should Mickey have another chance at trying the phone on the bus?  It has been several months, so maybe we would see improvement? I don’t know.  Your thoughts?

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