The Most Asked Question For The Year.....

Friday, February 27, 2015

As all of you may have rightfully anticipated, Chinese New Year is not only a festive season where we meet up with all our relatives and family members because sometimes... it unknowingly becomes an interrogation interview session.

From "where is your boyfriend" to "when are you all getting married" to "when are you guys gonna have a baby", we've all gone through it. With two kids in tow this festive season, guess what is the MOST asked question for the year?

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The question is....

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"Why you all don't let Dylan watch/play iPad one ah?"

Officially the most asked question for the year when I had to answer it.... 7 TIMES.


This question is undeniably trickier than the previous questions above because if you're not careful, the entire conversation may end up being a debate... And you know how aggressive that can be lol.

I didn't want to impose my views on my family members because really, it is up to the parents on how they want to bring up their kids. Besides, I believe that most of them asked me this question not to doubt my educating abilities, but rather, why we made the decision to eliminate these gadgets from our daily lives as much as possible.

Dylan is 2-and-a-half right now and Alexis is 6 months old. Neither of them are exposed to iPads or handphones at the moment. They don't play any educational games either.

However, the two of them do watch some TV. We set aside a maximum 30 minutes TV session for the children daily, but we skip it usually because we would prefer playing toys in the play room, or downstairs at the playground.

So now, the WHY.

As all of us know, most electronic games are crazily addictive. Having read so many horror stories like how children wake their parents up at an ungodly middle of the night, asking to play on the iPad, scared me.

Also, children who are addicted to their screens are very much distracted - most of them cannot focus on their work, are uninterested in other toys and can be violent when you take their iPads away from them.

I've personally seen children who are so zombified by iPads, all they do all day, is to beg their parents for the device. "Mummy, I want iPad." I've also personally seen kids wail and disintegrate into a puddle of tears when their parents told them that the iPad is out of battery and they cannot play with it anymore.

To many of us parents, iPads and handphones are considered a "life saviour". Is your child crying because he is restless on the train? Let's watch the handphone! Mummy will stream you some videos.

Is your child unwilling to sit at the dinner table to finish his food, but would rather run around the table? Let's bring out the iPad! Come, let mummy stream you some nice Peppa Pig. You sit here and watch, and I'll feed you.

Do you need to do housework but don't want your kids to run around to mess things up while you clean? Turn on the TV! Watch for as long as you like, as long as you don't disturb me while I do my housework.

We have all seen so much of that... and Nian and I decide that we won't have this. We don't want to have our family be sitting on a table together, having dinner, yet there are no conversation because we are all absorbed with our phones.

We are not gonna snatch our children's childhood away by 'poisoning' their young minds with nothing but moving pictures. We don't want them to grow up and think about their childhood, they remember nothing but "I used to play so much iPad!"

We want our children to go outside, play at the playground, run fast and free, touch the mimosa and watch their leaves close, touch the snail's shell to see it hide. We want them to smell the rain, to step on puddles, to reach for the next bar on the monkey bar, to fall because they ran to fast or climbed too high. We want them to watch how the wind makes the pretty pinwheels turn, see how the ants march in a straight line... you guys get the gist.

Children are never meant to sit down and have their eyes glued to the screen.

I won't deny that there are many educational apps available for downloads these days. Do you know that there are over 40,000 educational apps available just on iTunes alone? From nursery rhymes, match the shapes, to story-telling... "It's all about control and setting a limit,"some parents share with me, which I agree wholeheartedly.

iPads, handphones and other screen devices are part of our lives, just like soft drinks and tidbits. We cannot let our children avoid it forever, but we would like to wait for them to be older before we introduce it to them.

Right now, we prefer to teach our children the traditional way. We read them story books, buy them shapes-sorting toys.. and we sing the good ol' rhymes together. I want to encourage two-way conversations. Not just the iPad talking to them and he listens... and get hypnotised by the colourful characters and repetitive tunes.

One of my family members told me over Chinese New Year, "You see lah. Your kids behave like they have never seen an iPad before lor!" because Dylan was super enthusiastic about the music and cartoon playing on the iPad/handphone and he was so fixated on it, we couldn't pull him away! (Imagine him being like this for an hour every single day. So scary, no?!)

It is okay that my kids behave like a mountain-tortoise and overreact when they see interesting apps playing on the iPads or handphones when other family members whip it out. Afterall, all of us are curious human beings and we will all like to take another look at something we are unfamiliar with. While we don't expose Dylan and Alexis to these gadgets at home, we don't mind letting them take a look once in a while when other family members or friends turn it on for their own kids.

However, my question is: Why turn on the gadgets when your child has other playmates to play with?

Instead of letting children playing among themselves, the iPad has once again taken control, snatching the kids' attention from other toys. "Setting a limit" is sometimes easier said than done... which is also why we decide to eliminate it altogether right now, until they are older.

So, what is your most asked question for this Chinese New Year?

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