The cost of high-tech kids

I feel guilty writing this after the horribly long winter we’ve had. However, I feel like all of us could use a little reminder about electronics and children.

I will readily admit that there have been numerous times I’ve chosen to hand over my cell phone instead of forcing my son to entertain himself or engaging him in conversation. Parenting is hard enough without being criticized, so I in no way want to discourage you or beat you down. I simply want to express my concern over the lack of creativity or problem-solving skills that I believe will create issues for the future generation because they do not practice these skills on a regular basis.

A recent study released has stated that children play with touch-screens more than toys.

This was very disturbing to me as a parent and early childhood educator. I see the dangers in exposing children too young to electronics as well as constant usage and reliance on electronics. I’ve witnessed growing numbers of children who don’t know how to play.

photoIt can be difficult to choose toys over electronics for our children due to various reasons such as time or space constraints. It’s a lot easier to grab our tablet for an airplane ride instead of packing toys. Let’s analyze what our children miss out on due to such easy access to electronics.

First, our children miss out on opportunities to use their imagination. They won’t build coffee creamer towers or play sugar packet games while waiting in a restaurant. They won’t create stories in their mind about little towns they pass through while on a road trip.

Second, they miss out on problem solving opportunities. I remember driving to Florida with my family as a kid and trying to figure out how to sit next to my sister without touching her. I also learned how to read highway signs and maps on these long drives.

Our children also have fewer opportunities to be quiet and allow their minds to wander, Attachment-1-1thereby missing out on opportunities to communicate and create.

I think about all the things I miss when I choose a touch screen over reality: my child’s smile, conversation with others, a dropped receipt on the ground, a beautiful sunset. Right now, I’m on vacation with my family and writing this on my phone. I literally just missed a rock formation that my son is discussing with his aunt. I have nothing to add to the life going on around me. I don’t want my children to be consumed by electronics and miss life.

At times, it is easier to hand over a phone, but it may be detrimental in the long run. I have many friends who struggle with husbands who are consumed by video games. This is not something I have to deal with because my husband has no interest in them. I credit this to my mother-in-law, who didn’t allow her children to play video games. She said she could foresee bad habits developing from having video games in her house and declined from indulging her son’s requests. As parents, we’re setting our children up for adulthood and the more bad habits we create, the more difficult real life will be for our children as they grow up.

Our children deserve our best: our conversation, attention and time. They deserve to be forced into “uncomfortable” situations to practice patience and problem solving. Give your child these little chances. Start small by withholding your phone at a restaurant until you order your food or have your child earn their right to use the electronics.

I love this quote by Mr. Rogers, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But, for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

Give your child the chance to “work.”

About Meghan Zeile

Mom-in-the-know and local writer for Rochester Media. Always looking for tips with kids, family life, and fun local adventures. Contact at

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