“ifree” Holiday Wishes

After the checking out the issue of Newsweek magazine titled “icrazy”, April 2012, I found myself reflecting on my use (and my family’s use) of technology in our daily lives. The cover story “examines more than a dozen studies from around the world linking Internet usage with addiction, depression, ADHD, and mental illness”(advisory.com, 7/12/12). The article goes on to  present research studies that show that only 5 hours per day online can qualify as “Internet addiction” because of the effect that Internet usage has on the human brain. Since reading this issue of Newsweek, I have had conversations with friends and family about how they feel the Internet has impacted their lives. There are varying degrees of agreement with the “icrazy” concept. While many agree that living with technology has greatly impacted their lives, individual perceptions of  whether this impact is a positive or negative one is spread across the spectrum.

For many parents, this topic is especially sensitive because it is difficult to predict the impact that the Internet and technology will have on the youngest members of our “iculture”. And furthermore, what are parents’ responsibilities when it comes to monitoring Internet and technology? For some, it is critical that parents embrace the “iculture” and teach children to self-regulate and maneuver within this world appropriately and responsibly. On the other hand, some feel that a parent’s job is to shield and protect their children from the forces of the Internet world.

As we head into the holiday season, I am planning to continue to reflect on the impact that the Internet and technology has on myself and my family. How comfortable am I with the amount of time we spend connected via the internet and technology? What role(s) have I knowingly and unknowingly accepted as a parent when it comes to monitoring what and how much Internet usage my children engage in? And most importantly, what can we be doing as a family instead of spending time online individually? I am going to go further than the Internet, however, I will be looking at the time our family spends doing a variety of electronic, technology driven activities such as: playing video games (handheld, console driven, and computer based), texting, and listening to music with headphones.

The first place I am starting is my children’s Christmas list. After checking, this is what I see topping their lists:

wii u, wii games, xbox games, ipad, DS, ipod nano, itunes giftcards etc.

Hmmmm, now I have something to think about. Stay tuned for an update on our “ifree” holiday…