When my hubby and I were about to meet our friends via Zoom for our weekly meeting, I asked my eldest child to entertain herself by reading a book or doing an activity instead of playing a game on a mobile phone. Unfortunately, since the beginning of her freedom to gadget usage every weekend and sometimes at the end of the day, she has somehow developed a mild addiction to it. Instead of meeting my suggestion with eagerness, she fell sullen upon learning that she couldn’t use my gadget. She pleaded, but I was firm.
It’s a long story as to how we began to allow her to play mobile games on our phone several months ago…
Here’s our realization
Just because we have given her limited access to mobile games does not mean she won’t develop an addiction. The fact that she was gloomy for not being allowed to use a gadget and that she seemed to have been paralyzed from engaging herself to other activities are striking proofs that multiplayer gaming and gadget usage are becoming part of her habits at such an early age.
To be specific, I hardly have anything against educational or creative apps such as Pinterest, educational Youtube videos, Adobe Creative Suites, or the like. The problem is on multiplayer games such as Blockman Go, Roblox, and similar apps, which seem to have grabbed my 9-year-old child’s attention away during study hours.
Here are the negative effects of multiplayer gaming on my child
It seems like we are weaning her to electronic devices that she couldn’t tune in to practical activities without them. So, here is a question to myself as a parent who is a steward of God in raising my child: Am I going to allow this to happen until electronic devices become too ingrained in her system until she reaches the point of dependence on mobile games at such a young age? My answer is an emphatic ‘no.’
TECH TITANS AND BRIGHT MINDS WHO DISCOURAGE ELECTRONIC DEVICES EXPOSURE TO YOUNG CHILDREN
Waldorf School of the Peninsula in Silicon Valley, where 75% of the students whose parents have strong connections to high technology like Apple, Google, Yahoo, and Hewlett-Packard, withhold kids from using the electronic devices until 8th grade.
Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, banned mobile phones until his kids were in their teens.
Now, here’s an interesting story of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. In 2010, he described the iPad as a device that is extraordinary. Later after 2 months, he was interviewed by a journalist from New York Times over the phone. It was a long phone call and at the end of the call, the journalist asked, “Your kids must love the iPad.” In contrast to the obvious answer, he said, “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
Advocates of stocking technology in a classroom argue: but kids need to learn these skills as early as they can to thrive in this competitive modern world.
Waldorf parents in unison counter: What’s the rush, given how easy it is to pick up those skills?
“It’s super easy. It’s like learning to use toothpaste,” Mr. Alan Eagle, executive communication in Google, said. “At Google and all these places, we make technology as brain-dead easy to use as possible. There’s no reason why kids can’t figure it out when they get older.”
HEART-TO-HEART TALK WITH MY CHILD
Before we slept that night, I talked to her. As calmly as I could, I told her that no mobile gaming is ever to be allowed in our house anymore. She cried. She could hardly accept it. I explained, “Had you exerted effort to find something else to do other than pleading before me to borrow my phone, then I wouldn’t make such a decision of disallowing you—but the truth is you are developing mild addiction to mobile games and I don’t want that to get worse. You couldn’t even hold a cheer on your face despite my advice last night. And you know, Anak, I love you. This is why I am setting this discipline in our family so that while you’re young, you are trained enough to find meaningful entertainment and curiosity outside of mobile games.”
This is going to be a consistent and constant reminder to our child who might try to plead to play Roblox or Blockman Go in the next days to come. When I see her struggle with this new adjustment, we will pray together and ask the Holy Spirit to help us flush multiplayer mobile gaming out of her system. It takes firmness and decisiveness on our part as parents. This is not about being authoritarian, but being authoritative in disciplining our kids with love and affection in such a way that we desire for them to understand why restrictions are being implemented. We are stewards of God, entrusted by Him to raise children who will someday shape the world.
Yes, my child did question me why I use gadgets. To this, I answer, “because I already am an adult and mature enough to carry out my gadget usage.”
Technology has its time and place. When we are in a social setting, let us encourage our kids to do face-to-face interaction than solo immersion with mobile games. Kids such as this age should be trained and encouraged to communicate well as this is an important skill that they ought to learn during their early years in order to build lasting relationships with others—with their friends, playmates, teachers, siblings, and parents.
Lord, teach us to raise our children, especially while they are still young. Let our way of discipline be pleasing to your eyes. Help our young kids who have become attached to mobile gaming be freed from this bondage and see the beauty of the world even while the whole world is on quarantine due to the virus. Continue to give us a calm spirit while we make our kids understand the risk of mobile gaming at such an early age and to unveil their eyes to see the beauty of other fruitful activities. Make us creative and resourceful in everything that we do so that we can be productive in each hour that you give us.
Thank you for entrusting us these children. May we glorify you in everything that we do and say.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.