My kids are growing up in a world so different than from when I was growing up. I remember growing up and listening to my Walkman while mowing the lawn. While I belted out the lyrics to Randy Travis's Forever And Ever Amen, I was thinking how cool it was to be able to listen to music while outside. My kids can't believe how clunky those Walkmans were compared to their 1 inch by 1 inch ipods. Technology has come a long way....and I have mixed emotions about that.
Before Shane and I even became parents, we made a decision to not have video games in our home. The reason why is not my story to tell but we had a powerful experience with a family member that continues to shape our parenting when it come with devices and video games. Our kids don't have their own devices other than their tiny ipods filled with music. I have always hesitated to write about how our family approaches technology and our limits with our children because I never want to make it seem like what we are doing is the absolute right thing and those who do it differently are doing it wrong. Every child is different. Every parent is different. Every situation is different. There is not right or wrong as long as you are doing what you feel is best for your family.
Last week I had a phone conversation with Nate Berkus. He recently became a father and he chatted about how it had changed his view on the world. One night they went out to eat at a restaurant and all the kids there were on devices and it really had an impact on him. When a company called Finny contacted Nate about a new parental control app and a campaign called #DevicesDown, he saw the value in it. Technology is not bad (even though it scares me sometimes!) And we will never get away from it. Our kids will never get away from it. We need to make sure that along with moderation, that they are using it to in appropriate ways and to help improve themselves, not just for fun.
Finny is a free app and is available for Android now and will be available for Apple products at the end of this month. Not only is it free, but they will donate $1 to an educational charity for every download. How it works.... You set time limits and can set it to interrupt their play with a quiz. If they pass the quiz, they get more play time. It not only helps them learn new things, but hopefully helps their time management skills. Maybe when they grow up they won't spend their time on Facebook instead of doing the laundry....(points finger to self)! You can read more about what it can do and how it works on their site.
And really, moderation is something we (as adults) can improve on too. I have been praying about what I can do to improve personally and as a mother. Now I won't walk you down the path of all my faults and weaknesses, but the one that comes to mind now is not being on the computer at all when the kids are at home. Now when your job is online and you have a kindergartner with a 2 hour school day, that can be a challenge. I have tried to manage my time better so I can get all the necessary things done in that two hours and then I can do the off screen things like projects and photo shoots while he is here. He LOVES to be my helper :) Obviously there will be times when I will need to get something online done during the day, but I am trying to be more aware of the time spent there. At the end of the day, I want my kids to have memories of me being present and involved, not in front of a screen.
What are some of the ways that you handle technology in your family or for you yourself? I'd love to hear your experiences and perspectives!
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I love this idea! We try to set limits for our boys but some days we drop the ball and let it slide and they end up playing one too many video games. I'll definitely look into this!
most of the time, i have no clue if i'm getting it right...but we have no electronics at the dinner table, which mainly is a problem for the hubs. haha the kids are allowed to read on the kindle or do educational games about 20 minutes a day and TV as a rare treat, but honestly they usually forget about it bc we only have one tv and its in the basement. say hi to nate for me next time you two chat! xoxo
Technology scares me, too. I think this app would be perfect for our family!
Shannon | AKA Design
We have kids in their teens and pre-teens at our house. We've got iPhones - I adore the parental settings. Seriously they're fabulous! And we just installed Net Nanny on their laptops - which limits what they can see and how long they can be online. Our kids are homeschooled and do their lessons online - so screen time is a must for them. It's the way of the world, and is certainly different than when we were kids. We need to be diligent for sure!
Great article. Yes--as a new parent this is definitely something I struggle with. Just in the past month Ryder has started to actually take interest in the television. We have a no phone policy for dinner and the tv is turned off. Other than that we are still learning this whole parenting and technology thing!
Vivienne at The V Spot
My kids are older, so I feel like our parenting evolved with the technology, but we have always had rules in place where we limit any screen time, whether it is TV, video games, iPads or phones. We have always had the "No phones at the table" rule. Our youngest is turning 12 and just started middle school, and we got him a "Dumb Phone" so that he can text or call us if needed. His school is farther away, he has soccer practices, etc now and it made sense for him to be able to easily reach us. However, we don't see any reason for a 12 year old to have a smart phone. He is definitely the odd man out compared to his buddies who all have smart phones.
Society is throwing up its hands and saying "eh - all the kids are doing it... it's just the way it is now." As parents, we hold our kids to standards that we set for them, and those standards are often higher than society's. I'm ok with that, and my kids will thank me later.
Good for you for setting clear limits on technology with your kids! We don't have video games in our home either. And we have a "no devices in your bed room" rule to prevent both hiding out and tuning out the world on a device and also to lay ground work to help him make smart choices with what he does with tech as a young man.
I'm going to download that app on the ipad this weekend!
i know my approach to this can sometimes come off as if I'm advocating being too liberal with electronics and I'm not advocating it be a free for all, so just hear me out.
Technology is going to be as much a part of our children's lives as eating. That's the reality. And I have often seen parents who left their children woefully unprepared for the world that awaited them.
Limiting electronics *too* much is like demanding your child continue with a horse and buggy while the rest of the world drives cars. While they are young and we still have much much influence into forming our children's behaviors and they are more prone to listening to our advice, we have made a concerted effort to use the Internet alongside our kids and teach them the pitfalls and fun!
Though they are a bit too young for us to worry about sexual predators or addiction, we do teach them how to conduct themselves and try to make connections for them about how the Internet is the "real world". We set good examples with our social media usage as well.
My fears with the backlash against electronics consumption is that our children are then handed something they don't know what do to with when they grow up (imagine the Amish teens who are suddenly thrust into the real world).
Not teaching my children how to discern and digest what they consume is going to cripple them in the future. They will need those life skills because the technology is going to move faster than we are. So we have to help them form those habits when they are young.
(We do no electronics at the table, things like that- I absolutely believe in enforcing rules that require them to interact appropriately. I'm not knocking anything like that. Just hoping to remind that there must be a balance if we want our children to be well equipped to go into the world that awaits them)
I agree that if they never have a chance to use electronics that they will be in shock when out on their own. And communication is KEY when it comes to appropriate usage. While our kids don't own their own devices they certainly have access to ours. We have chats all the time about it. This week is White Ribbon week at their schools which is all about internet usage and safety. I think you made some awesome points! Balance and communication :)
My 6 year old watches and plays things on my iPad. She has to have dinner first and do all her homework and chores before an hour or so a night, if she chooses it (vs watching something on the tv) and it's not always that long. My son is 2 and can watch some Thomas before bed.
As for when they both get older, I hate the thoug of what's out there. I teach middle schoolers and see their lives controlled by all the apps and online presence. There's some scary stuff!
Shelley @ Calypso in the Country
My boys are 9 and 12 so we unfortunately have given in and allowed screens in our home. Sometimes I wish we never did! I am definitely checking out that app! We don't allow them to use their devices at the table and we don't allow them to bring them when we go out to dinner. I can't stand seeing a family in a restaurant with all their heads down looking at screens! We do have to constantly monitor the kids at home. I can't wait until the weather gets nicer so they spend more time outside!
Amen! Winter is so much harder to limit screen time. My kids rarely watch TV in the warmer months.
Since we bought our first computer we have has family settings, as well as on our phones. There is too much, too soon for so many kids.
We have a basket in our home when friends and family visit-they place their phones in the basket so we can have REAL intelligent conversations without being interrupted.
We don't let the kids play any device during the week, generally. To be able to play on the chromebooks to do ST Math or STEM coding, they have to play outside or gross motor skills play inside and read (10 pages per grade level until grade 5, it caps at 50 pages a day...but we are flexible) On the weekends we tend to relax the required reading, though we still encourage it, and allow them to have more freedom to play games for up to 90 mins a day total, but broken up with free play time. I'm happy to say they would rather play outside most of the time :)
14 Years a go, my husband and I moved into the bush, on a lake , into a log cabin. We wanted to slow down our life and keep things simple We made a decision that our kids at home would not be influenced by video game fs of any kind. They have their ipods which have a limit of 1.5 hours a day. It has not been easy, but we are holding our ground. I don't feel they are missing out on any thing, they certainly don't need the violence of most games. Our kids knew how to snowshoe at the age of 2. There are so many great things outside for a child to learn from. We have tons of family members who do the opposite as we do but that is life. Every family picks their own path, so to speak.
We live in a rural community but I have a dream of moving out in the country and living off the grid as much as possible. I love the idea of simplifying :) We have a big backyard, chickens & ducks, and a huge garden. My kids prefer to be outdoors and I love that. I am glad they don't seem to miss having video games. They like to play at friends' houses but have never even asked to get them here. All of my family members feel differently and we sometimes get criticized (in a teasing way) for this but it works for our family and it is what we are comfortable with. Thank you for commenting. I've loved reading everyone's responses!
Most parents have no idea about how their child's electronic data is being collected and shared. The threat to children's data privacy is very real. This happens at home and at school. The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy advocates for parents in regard to this issue and is a great resource for those who want to learn more. http://www.studentprivacymatters.org/about-us/ The campaign for a commercial free childhood is also a good resource too. http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/
One of my son's preschool teachers passed on this piece of wisdom from her MIL to me: 70% of parenting is distraction. She left me to ponder that, and we didn't discuss what one should chose as distractions. On reflection, that's the crux of the matter. Though you don't talk a great deal about your children's lives, you have mentioned enough stories casually to suggest you've done a great job of getting your children involved in all sorts of enriching hobbies. I happen to agree with you on the video games and, though disappointed, our son survived that and a bunch of other deprivations. He turned out pretty well-rounded and happy. I admire you for having the self discipline to limit your own screen time. That gives me something to ponder now.
That is to say, I realize it was my decision to peruse, yet I really thought youd have something fascinating to state. All I hear is a cluster of whimpering about something that you could fix in the event that you weren’t excessively bustling searching for consideration.
We are about to move into a brand new house and I think this is something I would like to have around.