Motherhood · Parenting

The Technology Debate

Another debate that is driven by opinion, at what age should you give your children iPads, game consoles or mobile phones? The world is a different place to what it was 20+ years ago when I was growing up, the thought of facial recognition phones was a thing of the far future but here we are with the new iPhone X that has a facial recognition feature to unlock your device.

I didn’t have a phone until I started secondary school so I was around 11, my first phone was a lime green Nokia 3310 with a black and white screen and the best feature being snake! It was that old you could change the face of the phone, try out new colours. I was absolutely thrilled with my new phone and it probably cost less than £80! All through secondary school I went through phones that were pay as you go, (a thing of the past now). I had a Motorola Pebl, Motorola Razr, a Three phone with a twisting camera and my all time favourite, a Samsung D500 with a side speaker! Oh how times have changed, for start off these phones had buttons, actual buttons!

Tablets were something you saw in films, growing up tablets weren’t really around, I was in my early 20’s when I had my first ever iPhone, before iPhones the craze was Blackberrys, with buttons! These days phones with buttons are ancient, phones now come with features such as Siri, finger print recognition and the endless world of social media at your finger tips. Oh how life was different without social media, I didn’t get Facebook until 2009 when I was 17! Before that the world was a better place, I’m guilty of this myself but sometimes you will sit on a bus full of people and every single person under the age of 50 is on their mobile phones browsing the web or their social media platforms. I sometimes sit and think to myself what did we do before we had mobile phones that connected us to the internet and Facebook at the touch of a finger! People would have conversations, make friends but all that seems to have disappeared since the growth of technology!

Imagine what life would be like now without mobile phones? Without checking how many likes you got on your most recent Instagram picture or that Facebook status. The biggest debate with technology is when to give your children mobile phones, tablets or consoles, at what age is considered too young? I’ve vowed to myself that Oscar will not have a mobile phone until he’s in secondary school, it did me no harm and he’s got no  need for one until then as kids don’t go out and play anymore! I mean what happened to your friends ‘calling for you’? When I was growing up as soon as I’d finish primary school I’d be out playing in the cul-de-sac we lived in until the street lights came on, and sometimes if I was lucky I was aloud to stay out later! I didn’t have a mobile phone or a tablet, I think the most I had was a gameboy, but back then playing out with your friends was more important. Having your friends knock your door and your mum or dad answering, ‘is Hayley coming out today?’.

I’ve vowed not to give Oscar a game console until he’s in secondary school, I want to try and avoid modern day technology with Oscar as much as possible until he’s old enough, I’m not in anyway shape or form bashing parents who give children technology at such a young age, it’s your choice and it’s your way! But giving a 4 year old a brand new £500 Xbox or £400 IPad is absolutely ridiculous! 4 years old I was playing with barbies and baby dolls, not playing candy crush on a 10 inch touch screen. I’ve seen it and heard it, parents buying their under 5’s brand new technology, and sometimes I think you’ve got more money than sense because toddlers do not need iPads, mobile phones or games consoles!

Isn’t it amazing how children pick up learnt behaviour too from their parents and influencing adults around them, I remember my little cousin at around 1 and a half knew how to unlock an iPhone, she knew by pressing the middle button it would open the phone! Granted, most people have iPhones and you have to unlock your phone every single day but isn’t it amazing how little ones can pick that up and act on it, try and open your phones. There is such a variety now of technology to children, even at 2 years old I’m seeing small children in pushchairs walking round town holding tablets watching YouTube. Which brings me onto another point, how safe is the internet for our children?

If were out for a meal and Oscar is getting bored of his toys I’ll use my phone as a last resort to put on PJ Masks or Puppy Dog Pals for a few episodes to keep Oscar entertained. Often I see children and toddlers using YouTube and clicking on different videos on the slide bar on the right hand side, what’s to say something completely inappropriate pops up, something a 4 year old should not be seeing, what is stopping this from happening? Facebook, it has a legal signing up age of 13, 13 years old?! You’re opening up a whole world of social media and meeting strangers, uploading your pictures for the entire world to see, most new phones have location services turned on, you can see these days where somebody is! I mean it completely baffles me as to how a child is allowed a social media platform where you are completely vunerable to everything you post, share and even where you are. I think the facebook signing up age should be raised to 16, not school child age, the world is a different place now then it was 20-30 years ago and you are more open to the darker side of the internet and people who prey on the younger generation.

You can open an Instagram account now at 13, just like facebook except Instagram is sharing your photos. You’re opening up your profile to complete strangers, people you’ve never met or spoken to before, people the other side of the world and sometimes people who are quite disturbed. I look at some girls profiles now and at 13 if not younger, they are posting photos onto social media with a face full of make up, hair, lash and nail extensions pulling some kind of pose that’s been picked up from some deluded, social media thirsty celebrity from a fame crazed reality tv show. For one example, Kim Kardashian, I’m so glad she wasn’t famous when I was growing up, it’s such a shame for the younger generation now who have role models such as her to look up to and be inspired by. She made herself famous from a sex tap with a rapper, I mean how are you going to explain that to your children, her sex tape is all over the internet, she’s not going to be able to hide that from her children and protect them from that. Girls these days are going out looking like their in their early 20’s, I didn’t use make up until my last 2 years of secondary school and at most it was foundation and mascara, non of this contouring to make your face slimming and thick brows or winged eyeliner.

In one sense I’m really glad I grew up in the generation that I did, we didn’t have high  technology, we played out with our friends, we didn’t have mobile phones to sit there and scroll through social media and not converse with people. I find it so sad that children now are exposed to such a world of every growing modern day technology. Call me old fashioned, I really don’t care but I am vowing myself that Oscar will not have a mobile phone or games console until he’s over the age of 10, and a tablet until the same age. He can watch things on there under my supervision but I’m not buying him a brand new tablet. Sometimes when I’m getting ready he watches PJ Masks on Lee’s iPad for half an hour or so but I will not be getting him his own iPad for a good few years yet.

I know this debate will go on for a long time and opinions will differ from one parent to the next, I don’t know how long I will last with my idea of Oscar not having technology until his age is double figures at the earliest. I’m not saying he can’t use them, but I won’t be buying him a tablet or mobile phone of his own, Children are accident prone and buying them a £400+ brand new iPad, if it gets broken I’m sorry but you’ve got nobody else to blame but yourself! It’s getting ridiculous seeing young toddlers with their own technology. Children are becoming more spoilt and expect more at celebrations such as Christmas and Birthdays. We’re introducing children way too early to the dangers of the internet and social media, why does a 5 year old need a brand new Xbox with Xbox live? If they want to speak to their friends, go and play out or mum and dad arrange to take them to the wacky warehouse together.

Not only are children vulnerable to online predators they are open to a whole new world of cyberbullying, inappropriate content or posting something that will come back and haunt you later on in life. As technology has advanced, so has the dangers of the internet and social media platforms. These are my own opinions on this debate. I don’t think children need modern day technology or games consoles. Playing it once or twice is different to spending 4 hours or more a day on it.

Thanks for reading, please feel free to share your comments and own opinions.

Hayley x

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