Posts Tagged ‘ computer ’

Why Modern Innovations Can’t “Parent” For You

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

My grandmother lived until she was 97 years old. She raised 7 kids on a cattle ranch in rural South Dakota. By rural, I mean the closest town was 30 miles away and had a population of 12. They had no running water or electricity for many years. My dad and his siblings grew up using an outhouse. They went to a one-room schoolhouse. It was right out of Little House on the Prairie.

How my grandmother would react knowing that a) Huggies has developed an app that tweets you when your baby pees (they say it’s just for a study so parents can know how many diapers they go through) and that b) Stephen McLaughlin is having the internet name his daughter –is beyond me. Actually I know how my grandmother is reacting. She’s rolling over in her grave.

Sure, innovations can be great. My parents (and grandparents) didn’t have a choice but to use cloth diapers and hand wash. Now we have 15 brands of diapers, including organic, to choose from. I started off using Pampers with Fia–the ones with the blue line that appears if your baby outputs 2 drops of pee. Anytime Phil and I saw even a little bit of a blue line, we’d frantically rush to change her. That is, until we realized we were going through some 25 diapers a day (cue grandma rolling over).  What a waste, both monetarily and environmentally. So we switched to the brown organics, where we used less but probably spent more to make sure nothing petroleum-based was touching her bum (more rolling over). I am a marketer’s dream.

Here’s the thing that developers and marketers are missing when they throw as much sh-t on the wall to see what will stick: no matter how much you innovate, the basics of raising a baby are innate and primal.  A parent cannot raise their baby via an app.  Nor should they want to. Though I guess they can name their baby via the internet, like McLaughlin is doing. Right now CTHULHU tops the list. He says it will be a great story to tell his daughter when she gets married. He’s missing the fact that he’ll have to tell her by the age of 2 when she gets made fun of on the playground. And by 3 when no teacher can pronounce her name. And again at age 4 when she’s not able to spell it.

With Emmett, I got over all that first-kid paranoia and went with what is/was cheapest. Except when it came to pacifiers. Since we now have 37 to choose from, you can pop them in and see what sticks, or well, sucks. The only one he took to was the Natursutten–which is the most expensive and not easy to find. I enabled his little habit until last week when I bought the more accessible and less expensive MAM. This, after the rubber on his $12 one was so disgusting it looked like it had been mangled by a rabid puppy–which isn’t far from the truth. Why I’m not making him give it up completely by age 2 is because I want the crutch. I want the easy way out. It helps him fall asleep and soothes him when he’s fussy. So yes, I buy into a lot of this stuff too. But if he’s really sad he needs me. Or Phil. Not a BPA-free device. “Hold you,” he says. No pacifier can replace that.

And I guess that’s my point:  In this day and age with app after app being developed, the assumption is we are looking for the easy way out. But the truth is, there isn’t one. Parenting puts you in the trenches no matter how much money or help you have. If you have kids, you should expect to do at least some work. Luckily most of us don’t live in a place where we have to hand-wash cloth diapers in a dirty river. Luckily most of us have electricity and running water and washing machines. Thank god we live in a developed country where our babies won’t die of diarrhea–or in my case two weeks ago–pneumonia. But at some point companies need to stop the madness and we need to stop buying into the more ridiculous gimmicks to make parenting “easier.”

I often wonder about uber-rich celebrities who have babies.  Did Angelina use a timed sleep app to avoid crying in frustration when her 15 different babies woke up during the night? I doubt it. Does she tend to at least some of them when they’re sick or does a robot take their temperature? (I’m sure if there isn’t such a device there will be soon). I’m sure she had/has 10 night nurses, but even so, if she was breastfeeding, she would have had to get up at least once or twice and pump–until they develop an app to do that for you too. Did Courtney Cox choose from 30 different nipple creams for chaffing? Did Madonna have to use those huge hospital pads in her underwear after childbirth? Whether or not you have a c-section or vaginal birth, you still bleed. A lot. Will they make one that tweets when the pad needs changing?

I have to assume all these moms had to roll up their sleeves and parent. Why else would you have kids if you don’t want to do any of the work?

As my friend Cassandra kept telling me when Emmett was a baby, “It’s time to mom-up.” I was worried about letting my night nurse go. I went so bat sh-t crazy/delusional with Fia from lack of sleep.  I was terrified to go down that same path. So during my pregnancy with Emmett, I had a stash of money saved so I could pay for my sleep. Granted we have no family nearby, and that is different than when my grandma had her extended one close by. And with 7 kids, the older ones helped with the younger ones. But there comes a point when things like apps that tweet your baby’s pee becomes indulgent. I know, because I was–and can be–indulgent. But I hope I’m smart enough and have enough mom instinct to know when to draw the line.

As for having the internet name your kid? Well, that’s just stupid. When the story came out two weeks ago, I flagged it as something to write about. But I didn’t. Why? Because I was parenting from the trenches, taking care of my 2 really sick kids. I was too busy being a mom–and worrying about my kids–to worry about writing a blog based on yet another indulgence of the internet.

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Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children

Pioneer pic via Shutterstock

Apps picture via shutterstock

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Is Your iPad Hurting Your Baby’s Brain?

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

I had a sitter the other night who the kids love. But this time they were antsy. Bored. They wouldn’t let me get ready. Emmett wailed when I tried to leave the room.

“Fine, you guys can watch a Super Why,” I said.

Yes, it was the path of least resistance. Yes, it was easier. But according to some new studies, there is a real danger in what I did.

Research is showing that kids who watch a lot of television and play on the iPad, iPhone, etc., are  growing up to have “sustained attention” problems. Now before you stop reading and think, “Yeah, yeah I’ve heard this before,” hear me out. There’s some really new–and interesting– information surfacing. You have to remember that middle and high school kids who are growing up with this modern technology are giving us more and more insight into what it all means and the impact it is having.   This is important stuff. Here’s the scoop:

When you walk in the door with your phone or text in front of your kid, you are sending a message to them that they aren’t as important (yes, we’ve heard that before). But you’re also sending a message that this device keeps your attention a lot of the time.  When’s the last time you sat in the doctor’s office doing nothing while waiting for your name to be called? Or just sat quietly, not on your phone, waiting for your take-out meal to be ready? How many times have you given the phone to your kid at a restaurant because you want to enjoy your meal? I’m guilty on all counts.

All of the above is teaching them that technology soothes. What’s happening is kids are losing the ability to “self-soothe.” They aren’t just sitting still, using their imagination. Kids need to be bored in order to figure out how to become “un”-bored. They need to misbehave to learn how to behave. If they are being difficult at a restaurant, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that giving them your phone is the wrong thing to do. Have them color or play some sort of game. Or leave and give them a time-out. Yes, your meal gets cut short.  It sucks. But giving them a phone when they whine is not in their best interest. Especially as they grow.

Here’s why:

The brains of infants through preschoolers begin making deep connections that teach them to use their imaginations and creativity to “soothe” for lack of a better word, when they’re bored. Researchers are now finding that kids who grow up watching television when they’re bored and playing on the computer/iPad, are getting to middle and high school and not being able to complete “boring” assignments. For example, if you have to read a boring book and write a term paper about it, which when I was in school, was a reality, you had to just push on through. Nowadays they are finding kids don’t have that deep connection to even get through the work. So academically many kids are hitting a wall. It’s a wall that apparently could have been prevented if parents hadn’t been so quick to let them watch a lot of television or play on the computer.

It then trickles into the work world. They get a job. They are bored. They quit. The consequences are dire.

My pediatrician gave me some tips.

  • Don’t even let your kids see the phone. Put it in your purse or your pocket when you walk in the door.
  • If you have to go send some emails, leave the room to do it. Tell them you have some work to do for a few minutes and to entertain themselves.
  • When you are with your kids, focus on them during the crucial times. She gave an example: 30 minutes of play, then dinner, bath, book, bed=NO PHONE.
  • No more than an hour of television a day.

(I’d say we usually let them watch 1 1/2 hours a day. On weekends more. Yikes).

  • No TV for kids under 2 (which I know we’ve heard and has been hotly debated by the American Academy of Pediatricians).

I’ve failed on that and now Em gets excited when Fia gets to watch a show, so I’m not backtracking. What I will do is cut down on the TV she is allowed to watch, so he naturally will, too. And honestly, he watches for about 10 minutes then leaves the room and plays with his cars or something.

The thought of my kids growing up not knowing how to use their imaginations to their full ability because their brains weren’t trained properly is really scary to me. I am not one to sit still and I’m not promising when I’m at the doctor by myself, that I won’t pull out my phone while waiting. But I don’t have to write term papers in 8th grade. My brain development is done. Actually I’d say it’s on the decline judging by my meat fiasco last week. So I take that back: Maybe I should work on sitting still and doing nothing. That’s what my meditation app is having me do. Okay, I’m going to make a commitment to do this.

My guest blogger Joe Deprospero decided to stop playing Words With Friends on this phone because he could feel the distraction it was causing at home. If we each decide to change one part of our technology lifestyle, think of the ripple effect that could have. Especially on our families. And you don’t have to go all or nothing. Just tweak.

I did cut down a lot on technology after I wrote about it last year. But this is a good reminder. Anyone else want to join?

Controlling Your Child's Digital Interactions
Controlling Your Child's Digital Interactions
Controlling Your Child's Digital Interactions

What do your everyday decisions say about your parenting style? Take our quiz to find out.

Pic of girl on iPad via Shutterstock

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What To Do With All Those Photos??

Monday, April 29th, 2013

We love taking pictures of our babies, right? I mean, who doesn’t. I can’t help myself…good god, as I’ve written before, I think Em is one of the most beautiful babies on the planet. And Fia is such a character with her ethereal beauty… Of course I’m biased like all moms and dads. My dilemma is what to do with them all?

I think back to when I was growing up. Film was expensive. Phones with cameras didn’t exist. I have a couple really sweet photo albums my mom put together over my growing up years. She also had an accordion file with each of our names on a folder. We could go in anytime and look at our pictures. There were probably about 10-15 photos for each of us.

I sit here in my office and look at 2 rows of photo books on a shelf. I never wanted to get too far behind the game in printing out photos of the kids. From when Fia was born, I would upload photos every few months to one of the sites where you can then order prints. I would guess 90% of the photos I take, I eventually upload. Which means I end up getting probably 900 prints over the course of a year to put in albums. Then, I have to sit down, put them all in order, put them in the albums, then write captions. It’s a fairly large undertaking.

At the rate I am going, I will need a house just to store all my photo books. But I like having hard copies. What is the point otherwise? Let them sit on a computer? And if that computer crashes without backup?

I try and be judicious when I’m picking out which photos to print. But I get so caught up in, “Well, this one is so sweet, I should print that one.” “It’s only 9-cents, may as well order it.”

What’s funny is my system seems far more “old school” than most of my friends. They don’t order prints. They just keep them all on their computer. Which means they probably don’t really have a “system.”

But I’m looking down the road. Your child will never have your computer. So someday are you going to export all the photos to them? Or will they just die with your computer (and with you) and never see the light of day?

I feel overwhelmed by the many photos and albums I have but I don’t only want my pictures to be on an electronic device. And the online photo books you can make and order would probably take just as much–if not more–time. And then you still have books and books of photos.

Is there something I’m missing here that would make my life easier in this regard? Any system you guys have that you care to share? Many thanks!

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(My) Milestone Monday: Becoming Sober in the World of Technology

Monday, June 25th, 2012

“Hello. My name is Jill and I am a Blackberry addict.”

Actually, I don’t think I’m as bad as some (we love to justify our bad behavior, don’t we?), but I did decide last week to unplug for a bit. I wrote about my plan (Is My Tech Addiction Making Me a Bad Mom?) and today is the follow-up.

In putting the brakes on my computer and blackberry, here’s what didn’t happen:

  • The world didn’t fall apart.
  • I didn’t lose out on any jobs.
  • I didn’t lose any friends.
  • I didn’t miss any important calls.
  • I didn’t miss any deadlines.
  • I didn’t have crazy mood swings (because I wasn’t checking email and text constantly).

Here’s what did happen:

  • I felt focused and present with my babies.
  • I felt focused and present with my husband.
  • I felt focused and present with my writing.
  • I felt focused and present with my life.
  • In short: I felt happier. Because I was.

I can see how the addiction creeps up though. I found that after the first couple days of being really disciplined, I’d start to regress. I’d go into the mindset of: “I’ll just check my phone really quick. Just this one time.” It is such a habit I had to be incredibly self-aware and disciplined. I knew that if I just “started to check a few times here and there,” I would be back into full-blown crazy. It’s like a recovering alcoholic just having a “few sips.” It doesn’t work.

After my post I got some great comments from all of you. And not one of you disagreed with how plugged in we are. Universally, everyone had the same take: ie: Guilty of “checking in” with the phone and “checking out” with the kids. One mom said she almost missed her toddler’s first steps. Another says she is thinking of having a “phone basket” by the front door. It’s a place to put their phones when she and her husband come home from work.

My friend Teresa (who got me on this kick) told me to take this a step further. She brought up some excellent points. Not only are we getting scattered and blue checking our phones, but are we also:

1. Modeling behavior for kids who will think interacting involves constant detaching. Are these the kids who will sit at the table with an iPad all the time? Is that okay? In moderation, probably. All the time? No way. (Read fellow blogger Heather Morgan Shott’s recent blog about Smartphones becoming the new pacifier.)

2. Sending a message to our kids that other things are more important.

Granted, sometimes other things are more important, but maybe we shouldn’t constantly be at the beck and call of the world.

Unless you live in a cave, you all know what I’m getting at. And it’s not pretty. Agreed?

I’m continuing on my journey of unplugging in chunks and then doing a total blackout at night (not with the bottle. Then I’ll need another 12-step program!). Every afternoon I put my phone away starting at 3:30 pm.  When Fia is asleep and Emmett is resting, I do one check around 7:30 or 8 for a maximum of ten minutes. Then that’s it until 9 a.m. the next day.

I won’t check my phone right before going to bed either. It can quickly get my mind racing. Not exactly conducive to falling asleep. These issues have been thoroughly documented. There’s even a book out now: Sleeping With Your Smart Phone. It’s all about how to break the 24/7 habit.  An article in Time Magazine calls us a nation of “addicts” when it comes to our phones. It’s gross, isn’t it?

Did any of you come to different conclusions? Are you continuing on the path to unplug? Maybe we should start a movement called, “Unplugged: The Path to Present.”  Thoughts?

 

Blackberry Picture via Shutterstock.

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