Again with the technology

Here’s the other thing about reserving judgment when it comes to kids’ technology use: it makes them more available for input about it.  If all they hear is “Put that thing down,” or “All you ever do is stare at that thing,” or “Only ___ minutes and then you’re done,” the dynamic is limited to compliance and resistance.  They can either obey us or fight us (and most likely get devious about sneaking time when we’ve told them the screens are off limits, regardless of whether they choose obey or fight).

If instead the language sounds more like this: “I’d like to talk with you about your iPod.  I don’t always understand how important some things are to you because we didn’t have them when I was a kid.  I know it’s easy for adults to just tell kids what to do without thinking about it. I’m trying not to do that with you.  But there are some things that I’m concerned about that I’d like for us to talk about.”

That kind of language is an opening for conversation and interaction, one that makes it possible to move out of the compliance vs. resistance zone.  It doesn’t mean the child will throw down her iPod and tell you she’s been dying for you to bring it up and from now on she’ll only use it on alternate Tuesdays. It’s just a first step.  The longer we’ve been stuck in a comply or resist dynamic with a child, or the more pronounced the dynamic is, the longer the journey out.  But that first step goes a long way.  It’s that step that makes it possible for things to begin to shift.  And especially if we want kids to figure out what kind of a role they want technology to play in their lives once they’re no longer in our care and charge, we’ll be wise to take it on.