Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Letter to My Son on Technology

My oldest son and I have a journal that we write letters to each other in.  I started it a while back because I want a way for us to have open communication and I don't want him to ever be afraid to tell me something.

I've always struggled with his use and abuse of technology.  It started with the WII, then Xbox, Kindle, Nintendo DS- he gets obsessive about video games, and talks non-stop about them and wants to play ALL THE TIME.  I've had incidents where he has snuck them at midnight, took them to school against my permission, hidden them in his room, and I feel frustrated.  It doesn't help that at school, they allow kids to have them out at lunch and they also use technology frequently for classwork and presentations.  I get it, technology is a must at school because you will need it to advance in your careers, but where are the classes at school educating the kids on real and true dangers of internet scams and predators, let alone the effects it can have on your physical and mental state?

I have been struggling to set limits with him.  I hear other parents voicing the same concerns, but I oftentimes don't hear about how they handle it.  At any rate, I'm hoping I'm not alone with this, and thought I'd share a letter I recently wrote to him in our journal.  I'm not perfect and can't always find the right words, so please don't be judgmental.

Dear Nathaniel,
I have to tell you something- growing up is hard.  You want to be older and always wish to have privileges.  But what you don't realize is that with those privileges comes responsibility.

Sometimes our responsibilities get in the way of our fun.

I remember being a kid and wanting to be tall, wondering what my kids would look like, wishing I would have no homework, wanting to sleep past 5:50 AM, wanting to watch whatever movie I wanted, wishing I could stay up late, and many more things.

Let me tell you, now that I'm older, I take all those wishes back.  I have a job where I have to get up at 4:05 AM now, I don't like staying up late because I'm tired the next day and I can't afford to be tired, I have kids but I'm so busy that I barely even get to spend time with them, I don't like watching the forbidden movies because they leave gruesome thoughts in my mind, and boy would I love to have homework now because it means I get to learn.

Life is a gift, live for now, and don't wish to grow up too fast.  You will miss out on things you are truly meant to enjoy such as unending love and time with your family, a free place to stay, someone to do your laundry shopping and cooking, no financial responsibility, a free education, and so so much more.

I did not have to worry about technology when I was growing up.  I do not understand all the pressures you may or may not face.  As a kid, I used to wonder about technology and things that seemed like they would be cool- now these things exist and I find them to be nuisances at times.  Don't get me wrong, I love computers, iPads, i phones, etc, but not when they take the place of real people.  It is really cool the things that we can do with technology, I love being able to text and get an instant response, or have my phone with me in case of emergency (not having to look for a working pay phone), being able to FaceTime family from far away, and even being able to watch a show and skip the commercials.

But, call me old fashioned, nothing will take the place of the excitement you feel when you open the mailbox and see a colorful handwritten envelope addressed to you.  A computer generated game of scrabble is fun, but will never take the place of sitting down at the table playing the board game with another human being.

There are so many positive ways technology helps us- it's in hospitals, banks, and schools.  But, then comes the bad, people are having wrist problems, neck problems, eyes, and brains get affected from too much screen time.

I want you to use technology and enjoy it.  I want to see you benefit from it.  But, I need to make sure that it does not consume you- it is powerful and offers so much that sometimes it can be difficult to stop using it.

I grew up without it- and now I am living with it.  I have seen life in both ways.  I see all the good and the bad from it.  My job is to teach you how to live your life with it and without it.

You are 11- with or without technology, you would have restrictions--it's part of growing up and learning to be responsible.  I'm sure you will make mistakes, which is how you will learn - but my job is to keep you on track and help you make good choices, even when you don't understand.

I have seen and heard of too many people losing big things (their money, their identity, and even their life) because of being foolish with technology.  There are bad people in this world and many of them are on the internet lurking and waiting for innocent people.

My job is to teach you how to be cautious, leary, and have a good sense of judgement.  When you see a pop up, get an email from a stranger, or friend request from an unfamiliar person, I want you to know how to handle it.  When you start driving, and you get a text, I want you to pull over to read it or wait until you reach your destination to look at it.

You are my son and it is my job to teach you how to be able to limit yourself on technology.  I expect you to prioritize homework and real life demands over video games and surfing the internet.  I want you to grow up to be a successful, well rounded adult.

I am the parent and it is my job to set limits and keep you safe.  You many not understand now, but someday you will thank me.
Love, Mom