Recently, I was on holiday and decided to visit two families, my dear friends I hadn’t seen in almost 10 years. I was really excited about the trip and how much fun I was going to have.
I was to spend 6 days with the first family and 3 days with the second. I was really excited and couldn’t wait to meet the family especially the children I have met only online a few times on video calls.
I arrived safely and a car was sent to pick me up. On arrival I was welcomed by their 4year old son. Oh boy he gave me such a celebrity treatment! I was surprised at his hospitality. ‘Hello auntie’ he said and asked if I would like some juice. I was very impressed. Their baby sitter smiled and said he is a very good boy. A few hours later, his sisters came back from school. As they saw me, they also said “hello auntie, are you waiting for our daddy?” I said yes and they smiled and went about with their noisy chat about how school was that day. My heart beat a million times over with love for how close these children were.
In my Nigerian mind, I was beaming with smiles and thinking, my friend has raised his children very well ooo.
Over the few days I spent with the family, I noticed the children seldom played with their parent’s phone…..except the baby who is just about 2years old and kept listening to “baby shark” song. The parents left their phones on the table without any worries. This got me really curious as a lot of children I know just want to always use your phone either to play games or watch something on YouTube. I also know that children can get a lot to learn from the internet. In fact a lot of them must go online to get home work done.
Anyways, out of curiosity, I asked my friend why he does not allow his children play with his phone so much and his response was “I don’t want them going online to watching and learn inappropriate things. I have to keep monitoring what they do online. These children are too smart ooo” He added that there are a lot of educational things online but if care is not taken, the children will just continue clicking and clicking and before you know it, they are watching some funny things and some pop up adverts just leads to different sites even after you take precautions to block the sites. Besides, if they get addicted to phones, getting to know one another and engaging themselves in other meaningful ways will become a problem.
My stay ended and I made the second trip to my other family. I was picked up at the airport by my friend herself. In the car were her 3 children aged 7, 5 and 2. First I noticed the eldest of them who was awake at the time I entered the car did not greet. As a naija mother, I felt that was rude and inappropriate for a Nigerian child not to greet, but you know with this our new generation mothers, you have to thread carefully. Then again I thought “maybe the mother had taught the kids not to talk to strangers”. I just maintained my cool.
Finally the mother came in and said to her son “say hello to auntie”. Only then did he say hello. I asked if she had taught her children not to say hi to strangers and she answered simply with a “not really”. I asked if she had informed her children of my visit and she said she did. Then I thought again and asked myself, is it appropriate for mothers to teach their children not to be courteous or respectful? I thought of the family I just left and said to myself “different strokes for different folks”.
Anyway, during my stay with her, I noticed her children were always on their parents’ phones watching one thing or the other on the internet. In fact, they used the phones to soothe the children….. all three of them. What struck me most was that she kept snatching the phone from her 7year old son to see what he was doing. I asked why she did that and she said “he’s always watching inappropriate stuff”. The children were on the phones doing “stuff” for the better part of the day and did not even play together.
I immediately remembered what my first friend said about his children and the use of phones.
We want our children to be smart and full of knowledge but how well do we safeguard our children from the numerous inappropriate things on this wide knowledge platform called the internet? Most of us buy gadgets for our children to keep them busy or quiet and sometime just to have some peace and quiet in the house……guilty or not?
These children are truly really smart and have the capacity to absorb a lot of knowledge. As parents, we need to help them to put the acquired knowledge to good use.
As parents, we need to consciously help guard the hearts of our children right from the beginning before they start making their own decisions.
Proverbs 4:23 tells us to “watch over your heart with all diligence, from out of it flow the springs of life” (AMP)
My cousin’s 6year old daughter once told her grandma to google how to make money so she will never be broke and would have plenty money to buy them everything they want. Google has the answer to almost everything. Do you wonder how she did not advise her grandma to pray to God for provision?
A river will only flow out of abundance.
Siblings who play together and talk more to one another grow to become close friends and a lot of times, best friends with one another. We cannot say the same for those who are always either watching TV or on the phone all day every day.
This is not to discourage the use of the internet by our children but we need to know when and where it becomes inappropriate. Parents have to consciously teach them real life values and how to decipher the inappropriate in the seemingly appropriate things.
The time is NOW. Thankfully as parents we are getting to spend more time as a family especially with your children as a result of the pandemic, you certainly have observed certain behaviours or mannerisms that need your attention. For your sake and the future of that child please take the necessary measures to correct and teach them the proper way.
Turn this time into an opportunity to instil in your children values, social etiquette, spiritual disciplines… I am convinced that the family unit should be the greatest beneficiary in a time like this, if parents can just look beyond every other thing and invest wisely in: Setting family values • Developing a family vision • Family and Individual goals.
Our children are the future we are preparing for ourselves.
Tsom will like to appreciate our guest contributor Mrs. Tolu Oshinubi for this timely post.