Computers are Sucking the Life out of Kids

Baby Computing
mytoenailcameoff / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

About two weeks ago, My husband and I were checking over all of the kids grades.  We noticed that two of the kids were really starting to slip, with missing assignments and poor test scores.  We decided that we would have to get strict and take away some privileges until their grades were more acceptable.  We grounded them from seeing friends that weekend, and we took away their computers.  The kids accepted their punishment and went to work figuring out how to raise their grades once again.

The first few days without a computer, we braced ourselves for the worst.  We figured we would hear a lot of complaining because in a kids world today, taking away a computer is like cutting of a lifeline with friends.

The kids went through a few days of boredom where they finished their studies and then had no idea of what to do to occupy themselves.

After the first few days of withdrawal began to wear off, a funny thing happened.  The kids became more productive, and seemed more content with themselves.  They had been forced to look inside themselves and see what made them tick.

My younger child began to draw.  I had seen a drawing here or there over the years, but usually it was for an art class at school that I saw any drawings produced.  Now long hours were spent with some music on and a pencil in hand.  The drawings my child created were unreal.  She showed a talent that I had never realized existed.  In fact, the whole family was amazed at what she was producing.

Here I was looking at a child who was content, talented and who seemed to have learned something valuable about herself.  She had a love for drawing.

My oldest child was going through a similar transformation.  There was a new type of peace in the house.  The crankiness in these kids had disappeared and I was left with two kids who were enjoying their free time and felt the whole world had opened up to them.

The biggest surprise was a week later when both kids, at different times talked about what they were doing with their spare time.  Each child mentioned that they were grateful to have given up the computer.  They said they were addicted to it and felt like they had wasted hours mindlessly surfing the web.  They had, but I was thrilled that they saw it too.

It’s been about three weeks now and these kids have very little interest in getting on the computer.  The only thing that is missed seems to be Facebook.  That seems to be their greatest connection to their peers, and sometimes they feel as though they are missing out on the current  events in their friends lives.

I honestly dread the day when the computers are back in their laps.  being free from computer usage has given these kids an opportunity to explore themselves.  They have found new hobbies, have become more confident in who they are and are showing much more creativity.

Today, I am taking my oldest child to the bookstore.  For 16 years, this kid has turned her nose up at books.  Suddenly, she feels as though she can’t get enough of them.  She has found an author that she really enjoys and has also been checking out books on society.  She is fascinated with the way other cultures live.

All of this takes me back to my own youth.  I am thankful computers weren’t around then.  I was given an opportunity to explore my world without being dulled down by the hypnotizing offerings of the web.  I am thrilled to have given my kids this same opportunity, even if it has happened by accident.

Kids today are more prone to following the pact than any other generation if you ask me.  They are all a bit robotic and have no idea what really makes them who they are.  It saddens me to see these kids growing up without an inkling of what talents they posses and have no idea what they feel passionate about.  I think in the future, once the kids grades are back up where they should be, computer time will be limited to an hour a day at most.

These kids need to work on themselves, and that isn’t going to happen if they spend their days mindlessly searching the web.

What about you?  What is your view on computer usage?  How do you feel about your children in front of computers all the time?

Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: mccance.wendy@gmail.com

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28 thoughts on “Computers are Sucking the Life out of Kids

  1. Pingback: Friday Favorites, March 15 | livingsimplyfree

  2. You have some really good points here, Wendy. I can totally relate with your experience. My 9 year old loves all things techy- my husband and I do as well so it’s hard to find the balance between sharing this passion and keeping a reasonable limit. For his 9th birthday this year he really wanted a kindle. He is a voracious reader and although I personally prefer to read paper pages, he likes to read on a screen. We bought the Nook for him as the compromise. Unfortunately we had nothing but problems because the series he loves to read is labeled adult for some reason and therefore we could only buy him the books if he was marked as an adult user- not ok with us as it gave him access to things we didn’t want. We switched to the Kindle instead and my Husband added some fun apps and stuff as well.

    Within 2 weeks we realized this was a mistake. He was obsessed! And what is worse, he was a nasty little guy whenever it was around. He was impatient, snippy and got irritated anytime anyone interrupted him while he was on it. Needless to say, it was gone. And you know what? He never asked for it again. It was so weird. When he was invited to a Mine Craft birthday party for a buddy I let him take the Kindle but as soon as he came home he handed it over without being asked. When I asked him why he didn’t seem to miss it he replied, “I dont’ like how I was acting when it was around. I knew I was being a jerk but it’s like I couldn’t stop myself. I’m nicer without it.”

    He still loves and uses his tech stuff but that particular device seemed to bring out the worst in him. And limiting all tech time in our house has brought out the best and more creative sides of both my kids- legos, made up games and jumping on the trampoline.
    Vicky
    p.s. Sorry for the long response, I just totally get what you’re saying!

    • I loved the response. It sounded so much like what we had experienced. It jolted us too when the kids realized and then told us they didn’t like how obsessed they became when they got on the computer. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

  3. The rantings of anti-computer people usually come from those who are not computer-literate themselves. In my experience I have found that well-monitored and guidance-by-example computer use is one of the great benefits available to our children and grandchildren. We got our first computer in the mid-1970s as a business tool. Our children learned how to use it and, in the process, learned about setting up finances, organizational planning methods and business terminology. When our grandchildren were born in the 1990s their exposure to numbers and letters, and later to spelling, was enhanced by the enjoyment they had using their tools with computer games.Later, they learned that any information they want or need is available instantaneously on their computers.
    As to television, my now 18-and 20-year old grandsons watch mostly Discovery Channel, History Channel and other stations where they can learn about topics that interest them. Their range of knowledge has been enhanced by their television viewing.
    What I am saying is that too much of anything is not good. But if computer and television use are limited and monitored, they are two of the advantages available to children of the 21st century.

    • I agree that there is just as much positive as negative associated with computer use. I am not completely against it, obviously, I have a blog. I don’t consider myself a ranter or computer illiterate either. Anything in too big a dose can be harmful. Scaling back the kids computer usage, was something I’m glad I did.

  4. Yes I have to agree. My husband and I are very specific about usage with out 6 and 10 year old. Neither have devices of any kind. If they want use something it’s borrowed from us. That way we can closely monitor the use. We have enough computers around the house that if they want to play they have to ask first and also be supervised. We only have one computer in the house that has a known password for my 10 year old. My son is dying to know but we told him he hasn’t graduated to that yet!

    They are not happy, or so they think. Truly I know they are much more creative for it.

    TV can still be addictive for them. They are only allowed to watch on the weekends during school term. But its amazing how often a complete attitude shift happens almost immediately after a couple hours of watching even “wholesome, family” shows, as they are not allowed to watch any other kind right now. I told my daughter if she was being raised by absentee Hollywood parents, a butler and a nanny, I would accept her emulation of TV behavior, ut not here! A lively family conversation ensued!

    We are trying to go back to basics too. Spending hours at the library or in the park or playing music and dancing. Not with earphones…together as a family…including the 80’s club moves of dear old dad! We all laugh so it’s time well spent.

    Thanks for your great article.

  5. As a teenager myself, I have to say that I can only partially agree with this post. Of course children should be consciously made aware that staying on the computer 24/7 isn’t healthy for them, as they can get sucked into the ‘drone-mind’ of the Web, especially when they’re checking out what everyone else is doing and not using their time productively. However, the Internet can be an extremely useful tool IF they have taken the time to connect with themselves beforehand.

    To learn that it’s not all about Facebook, RPG games and funny cat pictures. But that it can actually be used to expand their creative energies and make something for themselves. The Internet is really just a symbolic reference to our inner connectedness, but of course how can we experience this type of connection with other people if not with ourselves first?

    This would need to be explained to children before introducing them to all the technology available, then they could start to see them as TOOLS rather than a lifestyle.

  6. Thankfully I didn’t have this problem when my girls were younger but as you know I have grandkids and I do not allow them to use the computer when they are here and my daughters do not feel their children need to use a computer yet as the boys are still only young but both have said when they get older the computer will be for school work and they plan to only allow their boys an hour a day for Facebook and such………….it will be interesting to see if they stick with it…………I do not think young children need to be on a computer all the bloody time

  7. I had a similar experience. My boys were 11 and 14 before we had our first computer. Facebook didn’t exist along with so much else, for them it was the video games. My boys liked video games, but not as much as being outside. I have talked before about the day we lost power and all the neighborhood kids came to my house because there was nothing to do at their home. Every room was being used for one activity or another. After several hours one mom came to my door to see why her boys hadn’t come home to get back on their video games, it was then they learned the power was indeed back on and all left. Sadly I don’t think any of them took the time to realize how much more fun they had that afternoon.

    I think computers can be a helpful tool to learning, but in moderation. Kids need to be doing other things, outside, with friends (in person not facebook). I’m glad your children are seeing that there is a life outside of the computers.

  8. I gave this post five Stars, because there was not a button for ten! You are so right! Surfing, facebook, and gaming are all about to destroy our younger generation, and some of their parents! I loved the way you handled it!
    Some years ago there was a three day ice storm in our little Wisconsin town. The ice broke most of the power lines and much of the city was out of electricity for more than a week! At that time I was a pediatrician in that town and for the next few months parents told me how much fun they and their kids had! They played games – real active games – talked, “familied! Kids and parents got more sleep. After the power came on many of the families disconnected their cable to continue to enjoy each others company. Unfortunately, before a year was up they re-connected.
    Thanks for sharing your experience and your insight! I hope many families follow your leadership!
    I shared your post!
    Par

    • thanks so much for sharing your experience and the post. We are one of very few families that won’t get cable. We had it when the kids were small, but they became zombies in front of the tv for hours. i guess I needed the jolt as much as the kids. I hadn’t realized how bad the computer usage had gotten.

  9. I find it so amazing when I am out and about and see families were the children are so immersed in their Ipod, Iphone, etc that they do not know what’s around them. I am especially puzzled when I see children as young as three using tablets and other gadgets. 🙂

  10. As a mother myself, I really enjoyed this piece. Personally, the way you describe your children finding themselves is what I believe all parents secretly hope for their own; even if they don’t know exactly what triggers the change.

    To answer your question, in our house our children have to read in order to gain 1 hour of computer time. That reading time counts for one day and it doesn’t accumulate. It is a basic – use it or loose it tact and it works. The kids go days reading and don’t use their time on the computer because they found other things to occupy their free time.

    I wish you great success and fortune at fostering your children’s young minds. Sounds like you are doing a great job with them!

  11. I have a 1 year old grandchild who have an I pad all her own.She plays all the intricate games available to her age group. At 1 yr. of age she has an immense number of memorized nursery rhymes and songs. Thanks to You Tube. Of course, we only utilize it as a tool as we sing the words together. At the same time her parents bring her to parks to do a lot of things with them like fly kites, go to museum and bike in the park just to name a few. On Sundays they tag her along to go to church. At home she has her blackboards and numerous drawing pads and “Cayaya” her term for crayola that she consistently uses.She has lots of toys which she surprisingly hardly touch. Indeed technology is something we have to live it.It is graciously blending it in with the simple old fashion ways of occupying once mind. You are right if we successfully combine both together there would be balance in their lives.Hopefully they can pass on to their children what they learn from you. Good luck!

  12. Very interesting post. A budding Sociologist in your daughter. Encourage the interest, she will have a `rich` life.

    The kids I know in England seem more interested in Xbox and similar banal intelligence-sucking contraptions than surfing the web.

    I am sensing a Facebook rebellion by adults that I am in contact with.

    • Interesting to hear what you are witnessing. I have to say, I love computers for the ability to find information and connect with people you would never had a chance to know if not for the computer. I just think you need to be aware of its value and turn it off once you a mindlessly exploring it.

  13. Refreshing to see the kids finding more to life than the technology that facilitates their every day existence. We know computers will not be given up entirely, but if they can remember the difference in how they felt about themselves and went about their business once back on computers often again, that would be a nice happy medium between pre-computer days and current happenings, me thinks. Nice post!

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