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Keeping a balance in the electronics age

Published: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 10:49 a.m. CST

I have started to realize that as my daughters are going from baby to toddler to little girls I am having to change my views on electronics and their place in our home. Growing up, we didn’t have cable, my first computer and the Internet came my freshman year of high school, and I got a cell phone when I started driving. Texting didn’t even start until I was almost out of high school! 

My girls are very tech savvy. Commercials are a thing of the past in our house. My oldest doesn’t understand that when we are watching live television we can’t just fast forward to the next part of the show. At first, it was fun and cute that she was playing with my phone, taking pictures, playing apps and watching cartoons on YouTube. 

Now I am finding myself hiding my phone so she doesn’t want to constantly stare at the tiny screen. I know that it is still a novelty to them, but I am finding that keeping electronics from taking over their lives is going to be an ongoing process until the day they leave the house.

When I was little we went on a lot of trips to Missouri to see my mom’s family. We, of course, didn’t have cell phones or DVD players to watch along the way, so we listened to a lot of tapes that had a corresponding book I could use to follow along. Some were Disney, some educational, but I was always getting something out of it, learning.

My husband has family in Michigan that we visit a few times a year, and my girls are getting old enough that they need some sort of entertainment while being trapped in their car seats for seven hours. On our last trip, I thought I was doing pretty good, purchasing desks to sit on top of their car seats so they could color or look at books. My preparation only gained me about 20 minutes of entertainment, though, and even when we tried to look at the clouds and sing some songs, I ended up propping up the phone and the girls watched a movie for about half the trip.

Electronics can be a life saver when you need some quiet time to finish up a project or get a little work done, but I am working really hard to not let it become a crutch. We definitely don’t have a shortage of toys for the girls and they are getting old enough now to have puzzles and games as well as simple picture books and painting.

I know that electronics will be a big and important part of my kids’ lives and education. Even in my own life I use electronics constantly and wouldn’t be able to do my job without them. I understand that electronics will be an important part of their lives, but I hope that we can keep it in balance with everything that is off the screen, too.

Staff writer Jamee A. Pierson may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 6534, or at

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