I have a confession to make. Is this blog a safe place? Okay … here it is:
My 4-year-old daughter has not seen Frozen.
There – what a relief it is to get that off my shoulders.
What? Is that so uncommon?
It is? Well, given the success of the movie at the box office and it’s Blu-Ray sales (and all of that, ka-ching! ka-ching!, merchandise), the film was well-watched by kids of all ages. Except for Daughter #1 and Daughter #2 (and their parents).
In fact, my two little ladies haven’t seen many movies. There are some exceptions, of course. Daughter #1 is a proud owner of Mary Poppins. When I start breaking into song, I can blame a British nanny.
Before you send the Disney police to my door to force the Sage clan to watch Frozen, Big Hero 6, or whatever hit movie we’ve missed, let me explain.
My beautiful and very smart wife, Tiffany, and I hold a basic parenting philosophy that goes along the lines of: There’s plenty of time …
… for them to watch movies.
… for them to watch that TV show.
… for them to use the internet.
… for them to (fill in the blank).
There’s plenty of time for them to do these things when they get older. Why would we want to rush them? They’ll eventually have a chance, so long as Mama and Daddy deem them appropriate for their age.
Quick sidetrack: Do you ever wonder what “horror” stories your kids will tell their college roommates when they meet? I can just imagine the scene playing out where Daughter #1 recounts the story of how her crazy Daddy didn’t let her watch Frozen when it first came out. I can just see her friends gasping in disbelief.
That’s not to say that we keep any and all technology and screens out of their faces. Grandma bought Daughter #1 a kid tablet for Christmas this year. It did it’s part to keep her entertained whilst driving across Kansas, so it was a welcomed gift (and timely, at that). And we’ve downloaded kid-appropriate learning apps on our phones for our daughters to play with for certain periods of time.
Even so, in the case of Daughter #1, we still keep tabs on what she’s doing on the tablet, and limit her time with it. Again – when she’s older, she’ll have plenty of time later in life to decide to spend time consuming technology.
What we hope we’re doing is that we’re allowing her time to develop her imagination, as well as people skills. The thinking is that the less time she spends in front of a screen (no matter the size) the more time she’ll spend playing with us, or her non-screen toys or her sister.
Here’s my second confession: I spend way too much time in front of a screen – specifically my phone – while my kids are around. (That’s two confessions in one entry … this is starting to be cathartic).
I worry sometimes that what I’m portraying is starkly different from what I’m wanting them to do. That’s got to be up there in terms of worst parenting mistakes to make. I believe there’s a Parenting 101 course out there that centers on this very thing: your kids learn a lot more by watching you than by what you say to them.
I fear the message I’m sending is: what’s on my phone is way more important than interacting with you. And when I think of it like that, it’s a punch to the gut. That is the last thing I want them to think. I dearly want them to know that they are captivating. That being with them … not just in the same room, but really with them, is more important than keeping up with my Twitter timeline.
If you’re grappling with this whole intersection of kids and technology like I am, you should check out today’s Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast: Managing Technology’s Impact on Your Kids with Kathy Koch. I know I will.