Posts tagged technology
Texting and Children: What to do

I was away on Tuesday, sorry to miss you all! I was away from my husband and children for the night. My kids had the day off from school, and my husband took the day off to hang with them. They enjoyed bookstores and the movies, and I was missing out.

During my morning activity, I received a series of texts back and forth from both of my daughters. They went something like what you see to the right.

Love notes. Check ins. Even silly jokes.

Their messages totally made my day, and I thought about how glad I am that my seven- and nine-year old children have Ipods and text me.

And then I hesitated. Wait, what? I'm glad that my kids are texting?

Insert moral mom dilemma.

Oh, geez, is this good for them? What does this mean for their budding communication skills? Are they focused on what's going on around them or are they zoned into a device?

I try to limit my kid's screen time, generally. No one can take their device to school, and the kids ask us before they take them anywhere outside the house.

If I'm being honest about it, I love getting their texts. It's another tool in the belt for seeing inside their minds, another avenue to talk about what's on their minds. As long as it doesn't dominate or even become a majority of communication, let's meet each other there, too. How can we as parents use this form of communication to help foster positive relationships and parenting with our digital kids? 

Research and data isn't everything, but I'm prone to lean my ear toward it. Here are some interesting aspects to digital communication with our kids, tweens, and teens. 

Industry research shows that 61 percent of those on the internet are 3-11-years old, and a full 22 percent of children 6-9-years old have their own cell phone (whoa).

Between the ages of 8 and 13, kids are developing key relationship and communication skills, and typically want to spend as much time as they can with peers. Technology just gives them new ways to do that. Texting, in particular, seems tailor-made for the tween psyche. Not only does it allow users to perma-connect with their social group, it also gives them all sorts of new ways to either include others (by sharing peeks at the screen or using slang) or exclude them (by typing silently while next to Mom on the couch).

Danah Boyd, Microsoft researcher and fellow of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, notes that there are a number of reasons why kids aren't connecting with one another the way we used to (with lack of neighborhoods, busy after school schedules, worn out children).

The difference is that when we were kids, we got on our bikes and checked in every once in awhile at home but weren’t expected to be connected to parents all the time. Young people just want to be with friends, and that is no different from any generation. But they have fewer opportunities to connect with friends.

I see that already with my kiddos. And I support strong friendships, not at the cost of family time or other communication, but I support them. Texting can only be an additional, and not the main, source of communication.

While the Pew parents were happy to be able to reach each other and their kids while apart, they were less likely to eat dinner as a family than were other households, and tended to report feeling dissatisfied with family and leisure time. A study by computer software maker Norton made a similar finding: When total time spent online increased beyond a certain point, both kids and parents reported feeling less connected.

So here are our general rules:

How do you do it? What are your guidelines? Do you text your kids?

xoxo, MJ

P.S. Love these creative ways for teachers to incorporate texting into a lesson.



Pennies for Love: Wooing with Technology

When the hubs and I were dating and even in our early years of marriage, smart phones and social media were not on our radar. And now we, like the rest of the world, are connected. We have the ability to check email any time of day, Instagram the latest views, and text friends who live on the other side of the planet.

All of this is wonderful. And horrible.

The ability to connect also allows the ability to tune out, to focus on things other than each other. 

Huffington Post ran a story in June about Facebook's implications for marriage. The article is part of a growing set of data that finds social media is often linked to divorce. Just last year, divorce lawyers surveyed by Divorce-Online UK said that Facebook was the third most popular reason cited for divorces in the previous year.

Does it have to be this way? We, the victims, to the massive world of communication around us? What if we used that ability to connect instantly, to connect with the people we love the most, in meaningful ways.


1. Send sweet texts during the day: We use texting to ensure that the person we want to contact gets our message right away. How about an immediate "love you always" or type a text every hour on the hour and share one thing you admire about him/her.

2. Use PDA sparingly but well: Tell the world, via Facebook or Twitter, about the man/woman who's captured your heart. Choose your shout outs with hesitation to be sure that the post is less about you and more about your love. Mark a special anniversary like the first date or first concert that lets your special someone know you are proud/excited to be a party of his/her story.

3. Share a Pinterest board: The pins can be for more than great wedding dresses and holiday recipes. Start a board together that catalogs all the places you want to travel together or intriguing books you want to read to one another... all pins based on the simple theme of spending time with one another. Dreaming together can be really powerful.

4. Read each other's photographic minds: Use Instagram to capture moments, experiences, and special meals and tag the one you love. Beauty unites us so why not make something beautiful via Instagram and send it off to let your love know you were thinking of them?

How do you use technology to create deeper connections?

xoxo, MJ

PS. If you want more ideas on how to romance for less, head on over to Joy's post that list 18 amazing ways to let someone know that you love them. And join us in two Thursdays for another something special!

Happy Kiddos: Leave it behind

A few weeks ago, as we were shopping in a larger office supply store, my husband spotted three glittery calculators in the clearance aisle. It is important to note that these were three different colored calculators in desirable shades for each of our three kiddos. When he offered to purchase these sparkly presents (calculators can be educational, too, right?), they were thrilled.

I wasn't really sure why they were so excited about...calculators. Granted, my daughters, 5 and 7, are intrigued by numbers and solving problems. But I comparison to other toys and electronics, what would these simple machines have to offer?

We hopped in the minivan to venture back home. And that's when the imitations started.

C, my 5-year old, buckled herself into the backseat and put her calculator up to her ear. I heard something along the lines, "Oh... uh hum... sure...I'll call you." In the rearview mirror, I spotted M (7) typing away on her device and pretending to swipe to the next screen and enter her password. L (2) was kicking his legs and asking me to find a new game for him.

M continued to look down at her screen as she jumped out of the minivan, walked up the stairs, took off her backpack. She said something that I couldn't understand as she talked down into her phone, I mean calculator.

I'm not the most perceptive person at times. But I got it.

And I know they weren't even trying to point it out to me.

But I got it.

My pal, Jennifer Cooper over at Classic Play wrote a post on Friday that hit home:

"Yesterday I started an experiment. I’m trying to see if I can go a week without my kids seeing me use the computer. This means, no checking email, facebook, instagram, etc when they’re around. Perhaps it’s the social scientist in me (what’s left anyway), but I’m curious to see what effects, if any, this has on the kids or me. I know modeling can play a role in parenting, so I’m curious about it."

She in her good humor recounted her successes and failures (go read it :)).

I work from home half of every day, and I always feel the need to have my phone next to me to hear the ding of a recent email or the tone of text. But if I'm being honest, and I think I have to be, I also love having the opportunity to check in with friends and beatiful words and images, too.

It is my wide eyes and not the top of my head, looking down at a screen, that I want my children to remember as their mom's expression. It is my nasal laughter and the pitch of my voice, that I want them to hear and not my impatient bark or hurried response.

I'm trying Jen's experiment this week (and likely for weeks to come) to keep the electronic check ins to necessity - and I won't pretend that I don't know what necessity means.

Rachel over at Hands Free Mama is a great inspiration. Check out her thoughts on living for what matters.

She posted this gut-wrencher from Professor T. Ripaldi, and it's the kind of quote I can't not share with you (proper use of a double negative here for me).

When we adults think of children, there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life, childhood is life. A child isn’t getting ready to live – a child is living. The child is constantly confronted with the nagging question, ‘What are you going to be?’ ...

How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize the child as a partner with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing him as an apprentice. How much we would teach each other … adults with the experience and children with the freshness. How full both our lives could be. A little child may not lead us, but at least we ought to discuss the trip with him for, after all, life is his and her journey, too.

Would you like to join in the experiment, too? I have a feeling I'm going to need some buddies to help me move along!! :)

How do you keep your electronic attention span in check?