PR icon Alison Brod says technology can be both a blessing and a burden for parents. Here’s how she made it work for her family.
Like most 11-year-olds, my son Spencer was addicted to his iPad. He was so dependent, I’ve had to forcibly remove the device from his hands. Not my proudest parenting moment, but iPads are cool. I get it. I would hide it, he would find it. The kid can’t seem to locate his backpack when it’s in the middle of the foyer – where he left it – but he was able to ferret out the iPad from some pretty FBI-proof hiding spots.
And even though Apple created the world’s most engaging and cost-efficient babysitter, I didn’t want to lose to the device. So, I tried to find games that were, um, educational, to make myself feel less guilty about the fact that my son’s face was permanently
glued to the screen. We played Words With Friends together into the night until I had my own addiction and began losing track of time. Not to mention, the boy beat me more times than I care to admit. And let’s be clear: I hate losing to anyone, especially a kid.
Enter the Fitbit, a Hannukah gift from a friend, and instead of playing virtual basketball until his eyes glazed over, he signed up for his school track team to “get more steps”. When we were together in Miami, he asked me to take him for 3-mile beach walk. We talked about his crush on Giselle Brady, all of the countries he wants to visit and how he is going to learn to waterski at camp this summer, more than we had in the three weeks prior. (And I stopped drinking rose with my friends for an hour, so a total win for us both. Sort of.)
So now it’s Fitbit City for Spencer. He says he loves always being in “active motion” – that’s Fitbit speak for appearing to be alive – and will even stretch when he is sitting. He is energized by the self-motivation it encourages, but he also likes the competition factor. (You know what they say about the apple and the tree.) He also loves to track his sleep. A friend and him actually compete to see who gets the most sleep each night. What? Fifth graders who go to bed earlier to win their sleep quality game? Nothing makes sense, but I’m not questioning it.
Always one to take things to the next level, I asked Spencer if he was now ready to embrace a new dimension of his current healthy lifestyle by moving away from his daily mac and cheese and Cheez-It intake. You know, maybe trying to incorporate things that actually grow in the ground.
No such luck.
So until they come out with a veggie Fitbit, my Amazon snack subscription will stay on auto-pilot. But for what it’s worth, kids and technology aren’t always a dangerous combination. The truth is, parents aren’t winning the screen battle anytime soon, so we might as well make it work for us.
Alison Brod is the founder of Alison Brod Marketing + Communications, a PR, influencer marketing and brand building agency where she employs 70 women. She’s also the mostly proud mother of two boys.
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