I just moved from a small country home in Wyoming to Ahwatukee to be with my daughter and my grandkids. I have lived in Wyoming all my life, so coming to Ahwatukee has been a big change for me. I have been here for only six months and just by watching my grandkids alone, I have noticed significant differences between the two places (aside from the obvious weather).
I come from a place where we had a farm and we worked our land every day from sun rise to sun down from when I was growing up to when I just moved six months ago. If there was sunlight, we were outside taking care of the fields/crops, feeding the cows/chickens/pigs, etc. We owned a TV, but only watched it at night after dinner as a special treat or reward for doing our daily chores, etc.
I understand that we are in different times now, and that I am also describing some 50 years ago, however, my grandkids sit inside all day and play video games and are playing on their cell phones non-stop. I thought at first they were just doing it because it was the weekend when I arrived in Ahwatukee, however, I have been here for six months now and their behavior hasn’t changed. I have tried talking to my daughter about this and how this is not healthy for my grandkids to be on technology all day, but since she is on technology all day herself, she does not see what the problem is with this.
Like I said before, I know we are in different times and that technology is now playing a huge part in society, but what happened to that buffer zone of kids playing outside and technology being a treat? Where should the line be drawn to properly balance everything? Am I just being old-fashioned?
— Old-Fashioned Grandmother
Dear Old-Fashioned Grandmother,
You make an excellent point, there should be a buffer zone for kids to play outside time vs. technology time.
Before, it used to be so easy because the only technology options were really radio or television for the most part. There weren’t any cell phones, iPads, tablets, computers, etc., so kids were often outside all day and watched TV or listened to the radio only at night.
The problem nowadays, is that technology is everywhere for kids. I have for some reason come across 5 and 6 year olds who have a cell phone from their parents not for emergency use only, but to play games, etc. Homework is now for the most part done online for students instead of the traditional pen and paper method. Heck, now kids even use technology to get a soda at a restaurant as the soda machines are all going digital and are touch screens instead of the traditional vending machines.
Bottom line, technology is everywhere and is constantly going to grow. However, that doesn’t mean we should be letting our kids stay inside all day and play on their smartphones, chat with their friends on Facebook, or play video games all day. Why can’t we find a balance?
In your situation, you mentioned that when you were growing up, technology was a treat or like a reward. Why can’t it still be seen that way today?
Obviously, kids might have to be on technology on a daily basis for school and homework purposes, which should be allowed because a lot of the schools are going this route to try and keep up with the times. However, why not make a rule in your household that if the sun is out, so are the kids?
Just like the good ‘ole days when kids would do their homework and then parents would allow them to go play outside. Why not keep that tradition alive?
Kids should always study and get their homework done first as well as any chores or family obligations. If they do complete all of their responsibilities for the day, and the sun is still out, their reward should be to go play outside. Have your kids started a soccer game at the park right by the house with a bunch of other kids from school, or explore your backyard for insects, or start a garden and be responsible for it outside? If you have your children do any weekly chores, try to give them safe outside ones like sweeping the patio, watering the plants, or walking the dog. Do whatever you can to get your kids outside more and exercising. If you want, reward them at night with technology such as watching a movie or a TV show they may like. But, don’t forget about the importance of reading.
I think in time you can probably compromise with your daughter to improve the situation with your grandkids at home. Maybe you and your daughter can compromise to where you accept technology a little more, and your daughter accepts the importance of outside play a little more. Work together to do what is in the best interest for your grandkids.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Michelle “Mikey” Arana is a 2003 graduate of Mountain Pointe High School. She offers free peer advice, however, Mikey is not licensed or trained, just a fellow friend to the community. All inquiries made to Mikey will remain anonymous unless legal issues occur. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.