Column: Moms Dish on Tech and Family

April 12, 2012
By: Michelle Amodio

Long before I became a mother, I was a self-proclaimed gadget junky. I was an early adopter of the iPod when it made its foray all those years ago. I always had to have the latest cell phone on the market. The day I got a smartphone was a day of celebration. I ran out and got an iPad the minute they became available. To say technology is a large part of my life is an understatement.

When I became pregnant, my device usage increased. From doctor’s appointments to labor and delivery, I kept everyone updated from my iOS devices and everyone was able to be a part of the birth of my son. Technology is pretty amazing, and now that my son is 9 months old, it’s becoming part of his everyday existence.

It’s no surprise then, that Mom Central Consulting found out from 1,200 moms that technology plays a big part in every day familylife. From televisions to computers, the family household is surrounded by technology.

According to the Mom Central survey, more than 90 percent of households have at least one computer, but the majority has two or three. 87 percent of homes have two to five televisions.

WiFi (News - Alert) has changed the landscape of how we communicate in the home. Since there are a bevy of handheld and mobile devices to choose from, it’s not shocking to hear that 42 percent of homes have one to three tablets.

Long gone are the days of Atari and Coleco Vision, which really were a luxury item back in the 80s. Today, most homes have some sort of gaming device. Mom Central’s survey found that children spend 12 hours during the week and 8 hours on weekends using some sort of technology for entertainment. With the advent of e-readers, there are fewer trips to libraries and bookstores, as obtaining a book is quite literally as easy as the push of a button.

Of course, if you’re a parent, you know how gadgets can play an integral role in keeping children entertained. I know that for my son, sometimes a longer car ride to visit his grandparents or after a particularly taxing visit to the doctor usually produces tears in the backseat, so I keep my iPad handy for an episode of Sesame Street, or a baby-friendly game or two.

Mom Centra’s survey found that almost half (48 percent) of families have DVD players in their vehicles and 40 percent of parents gave their children a Nintendo DS before even leaving the house.

39 percent of parents have even given their children their smartphone device to placate an upset kid – something I do on occasion, since the Elmo Talks app for iPhone (News - Alert) is a sure way to get my kid to smile.

Of course, none of this comes without a modicum of guilt. 22 percent of moms say they felt guilty about doing any of it.

Perhaps this is all related to the study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics in which their latest findings recommend not giving any child under the age of two an iPad or smartphone, and do not put them in front of a television.

Because it’s the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents tend to take this sort of stuff pretty seriously. When a study like this is issued from an organization like the AAP, parents may forget it’s just one study, and one study is not the golden rule of parenthood.

Recently, I took a personal look at the AAP study, and while I’m no doctor or child psychologist, I do have somewhat of an educated opinion on the matter.

Technology is and always will be a big part of my life, as it will always be with my son. Technology is part of the world we live in, so there is no reason to deny our children the experiences of what’s current in their environment. It’s how we use it and when we use it.

That’s not to say technology comes without challenges. Mom Central found moms aren’t a fan of monitoring technology usage with their kids. In fact, 21 percent resent having to do so.

As with most things, it has its pros and cons.  It’s all about striking a balance.

Do you use technology in your home with your family? How does it affect your home life? How has it helped?




Edited by Braden Becker