[Note: Every Friday we post a new rant from one of our writers, edited only for typos and spelling.This new series is not for those easily offended or for those who only like to play nice. So read this before you start posting your comments.]
I try to avoid rants. Often I feel like people tune them out unless the are accompanied with a super hilarious YouTube video that other people can related to. Perhaps we are a “rant” culture in some ways though, because we all have our own set of standards, and when those standards are violated, we feel the need to express ourselves (blog, video, private conversation or political platform).
So before I go ranting about others, let me start with a confession.
I have three boys, and they are all teenagers now.
Of course, starting from a very young age they were enthralled with digital devices and video games. Like a lot of parents, I bought my boys a Nintendo Wii, thinking that it’s active, it’s age-appropriate and, of course, I’d be able to “limit” the amount of time on it because that’s what a good parent would do. Like candy, they could have it every once in a while, but only in small doses and as a treat.
My confession: Looking back on it now, the Wii was fine but I wish I had NEVER gotten any of them an iPhone. “Lifeguarding” the phone and mobile internet access is exhausting. I’d honestly rather never have to deal with it.
Digital devices and kids (and parenting) is a slippery, difficult slope. A kid’s time on a digital device is like having them wade into the ocean full of big breaking waves and dangerous rip currents. As a parent you stand there with them, allowing them to get wet and enjoy splashing around, but always making sure that they never get in beyond their actual ability to swim.
At some point though, when they’re old enough, you let kids swim on their own, knowing that there is also a highly trained lifeguard on duty who’s on the lookout for them. And with that assurance of the lifeguard and your kid’s ability to swim, you believe it will be okay to leave them unattended over time.
Here’s the ranting truth though… a majority of parents I interact with do NOT treat internet-connected digital devices like they would treat the treacherous ocean. Way, way too often, parents use internet devices more like ‘harmless pacifiers.’ Pop that thing into a kid’s hands and let them stop their godforsaken whining already! “Here, take this, stop yapping or fidgeting, your mom and I are trying to watch a show / eat our dinner / talk to friends / have a moment’s peace.”
You are smart. You and I both know (when we really stop to think about it) that the internet is a very treacherous place. It’s filled with big, huge waves (porn) and lots and lots of rip currents (social media, Snapchat, YouTube, predators) that quickly overwhelm their innocence or slyly sneak them away into another land all together.
Last Saturday I went on a date to one of the very nicest restaurants that I have had a few rare occasions to dine at. It wasn’t opulent, but it was pricey, with amazingly delicious steak, crab, and delectable desserts. No dress code was required, but almost all the patrons wore their finer clothes. It was quiet. It was lit just right. The tables were prepared with linens. The service was the best you will experience anywhere.
Our host seated us, and while my date had a view of the whole place, I was given a direct line of sight to a family of four plus what looked to be a set of grandparents. What did I see? Two kids, approximate ages 10 and 13. One girl. One boy. Both of them plugged into their iPhones, heads in their hands, streaming videos while they ignored their parents, the food, the atmosphere, and everything else going on around them. They had been transported elsewhere by the magic of internet connection and handheld digital pacifiers. (I so very much wish I had actually had my own phone with me so I could take a video of what I saw!)
iPhones, internet security software, and technology aren’t a replacement for down-to-earth parenting.
I am very proud of X3watch. Used as an accountability tool to live a healthy life online, it’s an amazing little software tool to keep you on the right track and to hopefully be one safeguard for your children while they explore the internet.
But X3watch is not the lifeguard on duty!
You can’t simple hand a phone to a child, install X3watch, and then hope that somehow the children will not only “stay safe” but also come back to you as a robust, conversational, well-equipped human being. Good parenting starts with limiting internet access and developing digital device boundaries.
Are your kids allowed to have their phones in their rooms all night long?
Are the settings on their device wide open, enabling them to load any app on the tablet without parental involvement or fact checking?
Do you use phones and iPods and Xboxes to pacify your kids?
Do you assume your kids will always make the right choices and stay away from the tempting adult materials online?
YES, X3watch can help you be a better parent, just like a swim coach can help you teach your kids how to swim. But NO, X3watch cannot save your kids and keep them from drowning if you just walk away.
We are proud to announce that our new iOS update for X3watch releases this month. Thank you for listening to the rant… cause it’s our heart that we all work together to raise healthy children who know just how treacherous the internet can be if we don’t learn to swim with some guidance.