I didn’t watch much of the Superbowl last night. The truth is, we had an exhausting weekend and I just wanted to go to bed. But I usually get a kick out of the commercials so I stuck around long enough to catch a few. Unfortunately, they were the ones that GoDaddy and 2 Broke Girls ran which were so over the top sexual it made Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction almost Puritan by comparison. (links intentionally left out)
I’m not calling for censorship or punishment or new laws or any of that. But what I am interested in is how I can teach my two sons how to value and respect women when breasts and finger licking are shoved in their faces at every turn. Movie posters, commercials, video games. Let’s just face it, the culture we have created is pretty stacked against giving boys a real chance at learning respect (and giving girls and body image a chance for that matter). No, I don’t think it’s culture’s responsibility to teach respect. That falls squarely on my (and my husband’s) shoulders as parents. What it means though, is that we must be proactive and completely intentional in every single area as we raise these boys.
Here’s some shocking food for thought –
And it’s interesting that all this came about during the Superbowl last night because I have already been mulling this information over for the past week. I received an email from Gregg Murset of My Job Chart last week with an editorial he wrote about boys and gaming and porn after reading the book, The Demise of Guys. He has four sons of his own and is right on track with his call to action on behalf of our sons. It’s not about banning technology, it’s about using it wisely. I haven’t yet read the book, but it sounds like the information is right on. As Gregg says,
First, boys need more to do. They need to be given more responsibility earlier on in life. How about some jobs around the house for heavens sake? It’s hard to game or get in trouble on the internet while you have a lawn mower or a paintbrush in your hand! Have them get off the couch or come out of their room, where they are more than likely gaming in seclusion, and do something productive.
You know what’s going to happen if we can keep them out of this technology trap? They are going to do better in school, have better social skills, be more self-motivated, learn how to work and make good money decisions. All in all, they are going to be more pleasant to be around.
Yes. This exactly. I don’t know what it is about raising children (male or female) but suddenly everything is in FULL color. Issues that I might not have paid much attention to are suddenly in my face with sirens blazing. I want to do something about it. I HAVE to do something about it.
How to set reasonable technology limits
There are a few ways to take control of the technology monster that can allow our kids to get the benefits of these super cool gadgets and minimize the drawbacks.
- Be the bad guy – First and foremost, you have to be willing to say NO to your child. This is easier said than done, I know. But it is essential. They might not like it right now. They might say mean things to you. They don’t understand your reasons and they don’t have to. You are the parent. You make the rules.
- Parental Controls are your BFF – Learn how to use the parental controls for all of your devices and then USE THEM. This should be the first thing you do with any device that walks through your door. Check out Tech Savvy Mama for some great tutorials on how to set your device’s parental controls and this post on internet privacy from Kelly at The Centsible Life is also really helpful.
- Help your children develop goals – We all know what they say about idle hands. Giving your child something to work toward will help keep him (or her) focused on something tangible. Once they have a goal you can give them ways to achieve it. Maybe they want to learn an instrument or play a sport. Light that fire and keep it lit!
- Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water– Not all technology is bad. Neither are all video games bad. It’s important to keep balance because you certainly don’t want to turn gaming into some kind of irresistible forbidden fruit. Know and approve the games your child is playing, have him or her play the game in the same room as you, and encourage other types of interaction with technology. Scholastic suggests using e-reading as a way to encourage reading through the use of technology. There are thousands of books for all ages available online now and many of them are interactive. Get excited about these uses for your tablet or smartphone and share that excitement with your kids!
According to Scholastic, Among children who have read an ebook, one in five says they are reading more books for fun…especially boys!
- Lead by Example – Knife to the heart. This one is the hardest for me. But it’s imperative that we, as parents, shut the computers and put the phones away. It is HARD! But necessary. When our kids see us doing non-technological activities, they will learn that not everything revolves around the internet.
My sons are just 4 and 1.5 years old, but they are both absolutely drawn to technology even at their ages. For me, this issue is not some far off thing for “when they are older”. It’s something my husband and I discuss often and it takes action. If left to his own devices, Oscar would play Angry Birds or Cut The Rope for hours at a time. It’s tempting to “forget” how long he has been playing because what parent doesn’t enjoy quiet time? But the fact is, children need limits and they expect us to set them. It’s a discussion worth having.
Do you have technology rules in your home? I’d love to hear how you are approaching this issue.
Disclosure: Some sponsored content appears in this post. However, these issues are definitely on my mind and all opinions are my own unless otherwise quoted.