My kids are already obsessed with technology. They are ages four and one. I was learning how to read nursery rhymes when I was four. Our four-year-old daughter, Anna, is learning to spell by playing the Wii. She knows how to read “Start,” “Save and Quit” and “Return to Wii Menu.” While Anna ‘s favorite game is a Disney Princess saga, she loves using the Wii mainly so she can make new “Mii”s (customizable avatars). She has now created a Mii based on just about everyone she has ever met. (I have to say, I really enjoy making Miis too. ..except I make them look like famous people. I think it’s really funny when Jerry Garcia shows up in our Wii baseball lineup). Anna is also getting really good at spelling the names for her new Miis with the Wii remote (which not only requires her to “sound things out,” but also requires good hand-eye coordination). In addition, my pre-kindergartener also falls asleep with her iPod on her pillow, is quite adept as a digital photographer, and has recently started referring me to websites that she has “heard about.”
Kellen, our one-year-old son, is drawn like a magnet to all things that have buttons and make noise (i.e., remote controls, DVD players, cell phones). He is also obsessed with our desktop computer, which happens to be a Mac. I like to make music videos of our family (“highlight” clips set to appropriate music), and Kellen absolutely loves to watch these movies on the Mac. The moment he wakes up every morning, the first thing he says after “Ba-ba” is “Ooh-vee” (movie). As soon as he gets home from daycare, he runs into the office asking “Ooh-vee? Ooh-vee?” And this 17-month-old baby can actually climb up in our office swivel chair, toggle the mouse enough that the iMovie application will pop back up on the screen, and hit the space bar to start playing a movie…all by himself. Talk about a commercial to rival those new Windows user-friendly spots. So easy a toddler can do it! The problem, of course, is that we don’t want our toddler to be on the computer all day long. We feel like he should probably be building block towers and pushing trucks around on the rug. But as the Mac sits in our office, which has no doors, we have an extremely hard time keeping him away from it.
Kellen and the computer may as well be a metaphor for how I feel about my kids and their exposure to massive amounts of technology. I don’t know how to keep them from away from it. And quite frankly, I don’t know if I should want to…especially when they have two techno-savvy parents. (We certainly are not living a sheltered, rural life!) As different as it may be from the world that I grew up in…the Wii, the iPod, the Mac, the digital everything…this is all a part of my children’s world. I can either choose to limit their knowledge of technology, or allow them to start figuring out how their world works now. I can still try to work in some of the nursery rhymes of my own childhood. I just have to accept that when my techno-savvy tots hear me say “Wii,wii, wii all the way home,” it has a totally different meaning.
Kate Hayes is a typical suburban working mom, trying hard to find the perfect balance between family and career responsibilities. In addition to being a married mother of two, Kate is the manager of public relations and marketing for SSM St. Joseph Hospital West in Lake Saint Louis. She started sharing her experiences (and venting a little frustration) by plunging SSM Health Care into the world of social media with its first blog, “Kate’s Having a Baby” in early 2008. That was while she was “incubating” her second child. Now that baby is going on two, and Kate’s blog has evolved into “The Balancing Act,” which she coauthors with pediatrician Doug Barton, M.D. Together, Kate and Dr. Barton try to tackle the vital issues (both social and medical) facing today’s parents. You can read “The Balancing Act” at www.ssmhealth.com/thebalancingact.
Before she settled down to have children, Kate lived the exciting and unpredictable life of a television news reporter and anchor. She spent four years covering the news of the Heartland at KFVS12 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, a CBS affiliate that covers a four-state viewing area. Before that, she reported for another CBS affiliate in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and KWRE 73 AM in Warrenton, Missouri. Kate has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and English from Missouri Baptist University.
Kate is a member of the Vision St. Charles County Leadership Class of 2010, as well as the O’Fallon, Missouri Rotary Club. When she isn’t working or writing, Kate enjoys spending as much “awake” time as possible with her famiy, likes being active outdoors, and loves making hiliarious music videos of her kids.