Six years ago when my son was born, I didn’t know what a blessing in disguise my impending divorce would be. When you’re left with no money and an infant in tow, needs pretty much get stripped down to the basics. Food – check, diapers – check, clothes – check, toys – cross, smartphones and tablets – cross. And so it came to be that my son spent the first few years of his life with very few toys and no gadgets in the house.
For three years there was no smartphone, no tablet instead we went out. A lot. Our days were spent in the park from the time that he was six months old; sometimes we even had our meals there. He played in the mud, discovered hidden insects, collected rocks,sticks, and leaves, and climbed trees. Before he turned 4 he was riding a cycle without training wheels. The lack of gadgetry let him explore his real world, it stimulated him in a way screen time never could.
Would I have made the same choices if I had been able to afford it? I don’t know, but I’m so glad that I was too broke to indulge in smartphones and tablets. It gave my son an opportunity I see too many children losing out on today. When I hear people saying “kids are born with gadgets in their hands today” or “my child doesn’t eat without a screen” I wonder if parents know that the responsibility for that lies upon them.
Arhant first saw an iPad when he was nearly 3 and half years old. At 6 years of age, he now has access to iPads, smartphones and televisions. But given a choice, he still chooses to go out to the park. I know technology will be an intrinsic part of his life as he grows up, but for now it’ll be a limited part of his childhood.