Tablet parenting

Written By

Nandita Ghosh

Tablet parenting Loading

As I run back from office, my 8-year old daughter greets me with a big hug and a bigger smile. She talks excitedly about a lot of things and then settles down for her milk and snacks. I get into preparing dinner. That’s when the question, that I have come to dread, comes up, “Mama, can you play with me?” As I am checking my whatsapp messages in parallel, while waiting for the pulses to boil, I ask her, “Can you play something on your own beta? Mamma has to cook now.” She gets agitated. “But, you never play with me. After cooking, we will eat, then you will again spend time cleaning and then it will be time for me to go to bed.” I feel a pang of guilt, but if I don’t cook now, when will I? I tell to calm her, “Watch the iPad for half an hour. I will be done by then. But, mind you, only German cartoons”. The last condition was more out of guilt; atleast German cartoons will help her learn German, hopefully. She agrees happily.

I resort to tablet parenting!

I could have involved my daughter in cooking, asking her to cut some vegetables or tell her some stories while we both cooked together. Or I could have used my creative mind to make a memory game with spices or vegetables, which would be entertaining as well as educational. But, I took the easy way out!

I met a baby of nine months, while my daughter was playing in the play park. When I was exchanging pleasantries with her mom, she was very intrigued by my phone. I gave it to her and her first action was to swipe her fingers as if scrolling pages. I wasn’t surprised.

I am sure you have read the article on how Steve Jobs never allowed his children to use smart phones and tablets.

While there have been many discussions and debates on this topic, the bottom-line is the ease that has been provided by these electronic toys.

We let our kids play games on tablets, convincing ourselves that educational games are good for their overall development. The moment we want to spend some time for ourselves and not be bothered by our children wanting playtime with us, we offer them a tablet or a phone or some gadget. In order to avoid the guilt, we put some conditions. Instead of half an hour of the tablet, we can very well spend playing some interactive games for half an hour with our child . Instead of hoping that they learn through cartoons, wouldn’t the impact be more if we did things together?

Our parents lead such simple lives. I don’t remember my mom thinking about making productive use of every second of her time. She was always using her time the best possible way she knew. For her too, her kids were a priority. So, during school days, there was a fixed routine. There was always a time in the day when we told her everything about school, time when she spent doing some activities with us or enriching us with stories while she cooked.

But, nowadays, as parents we have so many other activities that we are involved in! We are always thinking about making our lives happening and productive. The result, we feel stressed by our own expectations and find giving half an hour of our undivided time to our kids, too taxing.

Watching TV and playing with devices is very addictive. Even though my daughter genuinely would like to spend time with me, I have never heard her say “No, I want to play with you only”, whenever I have suggested that she use a  tablet instead. It is always an irresistible offer for her to decline!

The other day I went to my friend’s house. While her elder son was watching TV, she she was trying to feed her 6 month old baby. The baby was eating while watching some cartoon on the phone. I was reminded of the time when my mom used to feed my daughter. She would take her outside and show her pigeons. She would make stories around pigeons and make sure that her plate was empty.

The fact that we have been offered so many opportunities, we have become restless and impatient. We resort to taking shortcuts, even looking for shortcuts in parenting.

But alas, is there a shortcut to being a parent!

 

Why don’t you play with me! 

Why do you clean the kitchen everyday, ma?

Why not spend the time playing with me?

Why do you spend all the time in cooking, ma?

Why not spend a little time reading with me?

I have stories to tell you from school.

A boy who lost 5 minutes of his golden time,

A girl who is always a crybaby,

About my friend, who waits for me at break time.

 Why are you always lost in some or the other work, ma?

Why don’t you sit and relax with me?

Let’s make the Lego structures later,

I enjoy it more when we make it together!

Why do you always keep telling do this and do that?

I will take a bath and finish my homework – I will do all that,

But, why don’t you first come and with me, have a chat?

Instead of the phone on which you so love to eyelid a bat.

Why are you always so busy,

If not cooking, then cleaning, if not cleaning then washing.

Why can’t you just relax and sit with me,

Or include me when you are with laptop, working!

You always tell me I should learn to play alone,

But what should I do ma, please tell me,

There are no toys that give me the joy,

The joy that I feel, when my ma plays with me!

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nandita Ghosh works as a Software Engineer and is the proud mother of a young, talented daughter. She currently lives in Germany. Her passions include writing, painting and travelling. She loves to write poems as well as prose about the small joys of day-to-day life. If interested, please follow her on: https://nuancesofthemind.wordpress.com/

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