Monday, October 23, 2017

Balancing Technology

This post is sponsored by Utopia360°. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting sponsors here on This Little Miggy.

When my first daughter was little, we started going on frequent road trips as a family. This was in the olden days before ipads and kindles, therefore my husband suggested that we buy a portable DVD player for her to watch actual DVD's on during our road trips. The idea being that watching a show would make her happier, and thus every person in the car happier, while we sat in a small confined space for hours on end.

In my infinite wisdom I said, Absolutely not. I didn't want my kids dependant on technology. I recounted to him stories of the childhood road trips--at least 2 each summer traveling back and forth to my dad's house where I spent my summers--when I had nothing but a book, a pillow, maybe some janky dollar store type toy and eventually--after years and years and years--a fancy, tape playing walkman. I wasn't one of those kids who was catered to by the adults in my life with road trip games and entertainment. I entertained myself, and my kids could learn to as well. If she couldn't be content with some squeaky toys and beautiful vistas on her right and left, then she was just plain spoiled.

Obviously, this story takes a sharp u-turn as I believe I caved to the idea of a DVD player almost immediately. We marvel at that first 4 hour road trip with our nearly comatose toddler in the backseat completely zombie-eyed staring at a screen for 4 hours while the husband and I chatted  uninterrupted, commenting more than once, "It feels like we're on a road trip by ourselves!" Which, to be clear, is the exact goal of every parent who road trips with their children--to feel like the car is occupied solely by mature, adults who engage in respectful, quiet and civil conversation.

I conceded, with some reluctance, that perhaps there are some benefits to living in the 21st century.

What I'm saying is that I'm picky with technology when it comes to my kids.

What I'm also saying is I LOVE YOU TECHNOLOGY THANK YOU FOR MAKING MY LIFE WITH MY KIDS EASIER PLEASE DON'T EVER LEAVE ME I WOULD LITERALLY DIE WITHOUT YOU.

As you can see it's a delicate balance.

As ironic as it is for someone who spends a good amount of her time blogging and on social media I will probably always have this struggle with the overwhelming amount of technology in our children's every day lives and how to maintain a balance of screen time vs. real world time. Maybe it's not ironic. Maybe my job makes me more acutely aware of the struggle to access the best of what technology has to offer us, while at the same time keeping boundaries in place to keep my children (and myself) from overusing and abusing technology. Not to mention being present in the real world cultivating, real relationships. The TV does not go on in our house without permission. Same with the computer. None of my kids have their own iphone, iPad, kindle, laptop (yet) and they are not allowed to keep the shared devices we do have in their rooms. Also, we haven't ever owned any sort of gaming console.

Of course there are so many amazing experiences and benefits that modern technology can bring into our lives, things that still feel like a Jetson's type reality to this child of the 80's. We are living in the future and it is amazing!

Enter Utopia 360° 4-D+ Augmented and Virtual Reality bundles. This is technology and education coming together to give kids a uniquely modern learning experience. There are three bundles available--Animal Zoo, Dinosaur Experience and Space Exploration. We received the Dinosaur Experience and the Space Exploration bundles.  Each set comes with a pack of augmented reality flashcards and a VR headset. You also need to download a free app for each learning pack. Once you have the app downloaded you can look at the cards through the app and suddenly you have a dinosaur on your dining room table! (But not really! But yes really!)
You can use the screen controls to navigate the dinosaurs, to see a skeleton version and at the same time learn facts and history about each dinosaur.


The space exploration was just as amazing to see planets, stars and black holes popping up in front of our eyes.

Then you can use the VR headsets to immerse yourself in a 360°experience and it is just nuts. You're in your kitchen, but also your suddenly surrounded by life size dinosaurs or taking a tour of our solar system. I mean, these pictures say it all:


My kids are going to have screens in front of them whether I like it or not. And truthfully, when used sensibly I like it! So giving them a toy that utilizes 4-D technology, while learning a few things at the same times is a win. Yes there are still boundaries and rules (the packs come with a warning not to participate in virtual reality for more than 30 minutes at a time) because they are still screens, but educational, entertaining and something they all enjoy doing together is some screen time I can get behind.

To be honest, I didn't even know you could use your phone for virtual reality experiences until my 5th grader had the chance to use one at school recently. I can honestly say my kids love have loved playing with these sets and I really think they're a great deal for what you're getting. Maybe this feels extra cool to us since we don't and have never owned a gaming console (and I don't plan to)--what about you? What does technology usage look like at your house? Do you love and embrace all technology? Or do you drag your feet a little? What about technology based toys--what are your rules and boundaries for your kids? 

2 comments:

  1. Such a good post and so haard to do today in a world where our children are required to use technology to do their homework. Currently, we are living in Germany and it has been much easier finding balance because they are old school. Not much technology in the classroom which I also don't know if it is a good thing. We had a great discussion about it recently at a dinner party. Isn'it that way with all things though in terms of trying to find balance.

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