Kids and Technology

‘I hate you.  You ruin my life!’

Not the ideal start to a rainy afternoon.

I’ve ruined his life because we don’t have a PS4 in our house nor does he have a phone of his own, or any social media accounts.  This means that he can’t socialise with his friends because they are all on line.  He’s a teenager.

I’m torn.  Of course, I want him to socialise and have friends.  The house is always open to the kids’ friends, but they eldest doesn’t want to invite people around as we don’t have ‘anything to do’ (apart from a garden, with a river, with canoes, and a football pitch, park locally etc).  What he means is that we don’t have any tech and tech is what his friends ‘do’.

So I have ruined his life.

Except that at least 3 times a year we go on holiday to a place where there is no technology and where they make friends and reconnect with old friends, kids of all ages and all back grounds.  They play footy, climb trees, play chase, play board games and card games, play music, dance, sing, act, create, chat, walk.  They even talk to grownups (gasp!)  My kids are really happy there and love going.

The friendships they make down there seem much more ‘real’, less caught up with what they ‘ought’ to do, and look like and be and more about exploring and enjoying who they are.  I see kids teach other kids, the big ones look after the little ones and the little ones learn from the older ones.  They all laugh a lot.

And this is what I want for my kids.  I hate to see them screen-facing, even if they are ‘socialising’.

As a parent, I think it is my job to prepare my kids for adult life and I’m not sure how gaming or social media does that.  How does thumb dexterity translate into life skills?  How does shooting to gain points to learn dances work in helping them mature?  They tell me stories about friends who have spent a fortune buying made up things for made up games…shame the money was real..hard earned by parents…and not made up too.

I don’t want my kids manipulated by algorithms which are smarter than we imagine, hooking them in and keeping them there.  The tech giants are smart…they make my son feel like I have ruined his life because they have captured his friends and pinned them to screens.

I don’t want my kids to be manipulated by algorithms or have their bodies slump and atrophy in front of screens.  I want them to have meeting real people, in real locations and learning from them.  Learning how to share, how to compete, how to fall out and then sort it out again.  I want them to be using their whole bodies and thinking about the world.  I want them to be out in nature, moving and feeling the wind against their faces.

There are other tech free families out there, but it seems that we are a dying breed.  That the peer group pressure of our youngsters, makes us as parents shell out the hundreds of pounds needed to keep them connected and fitting in.  Are we as adults abnegating our responsibility to help our kids resist this kind of conformity and pressure.  Are we just making life easy for ourselves by having our kids plugged in, so we can plug in ourselves?

We are all in danger of getting sucked into our screens.  Parents scrolling, kids chatting, notifications pinging.

No, no, nononono.  This is not the world I want to live in or want for my kids.

I will not give in.  I will keep my phone downstairs and not use it when the kids are around because I want to be a role model to them and myself.  I will continue to talk to my eldest about the reasons for not having a phone more expensive than my own and listening to him about his needs and seeing if we can find a way through this without damaging our relationship.

Into the Woods

Into the Woods is moving forward, the book has gone to print so we’re getting ready for the launch on 25th November which is the UN day for the End To Violence Against Women and Girls.

Into the Woods is a collection of fairy tales based on interviews I did with real women about their experiences of domestic abuse.  My intention with it, is not only to turn the women’s experiences from darkness into light, but to educate and support people who are either in abusive relationships or know someone who is.

It tries to find answers to the questions such as “Why doesn’t she just leave?” or “Why did she get into it in the first place?”  Patterns of behaviour became clear as I was writing, and so did patterns of thoughts and up-bringing.  My hope is that by increasing awareness of these patterns we might keep our young women from finding themselves being one of the 1 in 4 women who experiences abuse in their life time.

A friend pinned me down and got me to talk on camera about the book…you can watch it here.

All profits from the paperback book will go to charities supporting families who are living with or escaping from domestic abuse.  So many people have gifted their time, experience and skills to help this book get its message into the world.  The women I interviewed, and how have approved the stories at every point, have given their stories so that others may learn from their experience.  Sue the interior designer has cut her costs and so has Alex who is doing the legal review.   Illustrator Anita Wyatt has worked her magic without charge as has the editor Kate Taylor from Middlefarm Press.

Together, we all believe we can make a difference.

I really want to start discussions about domestic abuse and to raise awareness of it.  Please will you help me do that by:
  1. Coming to the launch on 25th November 6-8 (you need to buy your tickets from Booka Bookshop, Oswestry,they are on sale now)
  2. Buying a copy of the book – pre-orders here: http://www.julieleoni.com/product/into-the-woods/
  3. Liking the facebook page and sharing it as widely as possible : https://www.facebook.com/IntoTheWoodsbyJulieLeoni/
  4. Sharing this information with your friends.  Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you think might be interested in the book and the cause.
Reviews:

“Into the Woods takes true stories of modern day abuse, co-dependence and domestic violence and retells them as spell binding, classic fairy tales, ingeniously combing self-help with magic and fantasy. This nurturing collection of tales shines light on these dark, seldom spoken about experiences to create a healing, informing and empowering resource. An absolute must read for women everywhere who will find at least one character they can relate to in these carefully crafted tales, uniting women to reclaim their power and potential.”

“I hope this book is read, shared, talked of, written about and passed from woman to woman. I hope it inspires more women to tell their stories and to grow in courage and strength. I hope it inspires women to support one other, to ask for help, to value themselves, to learn to put themselves first and to turn darkness into light. I hope it saves some lives”

“It genuinely has made me laugh and cry in equal measures…”

“Tales of fierce love, deep courage and tentative hope in the commitment of the hard work of recovery and healing”.

“Fucking hell, Julie Leoni…no really, just fucking hell! Goldilocks has left me all churned up, emotional…and blown to kingdom-fucking-come!”

Please help me turn darkness into light for everyone who has lived with or is living with domestic abuse.

 

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My email address

julieleoni.com@gmail.com