I think my family was lucky. We didn’t have to make the difficult decisions about kids and technology that families have to make today. Our oldest son, Will, was born in 1985, and we didn’t even own a computer when he was a preschooler. Christina, born in 1990, had very little use of computer as a preschooler. And we avoided the Internet and cell phones altogether until our kids were much older.
We did have to make decisions about television use. We decided to have no television in our house when our kids were preschoolers. We had a video monitor that allowed us to watch some movies together along with occasional educational videos for our kids. And our kids didn’t miss television. They were simply used to active learning activities and finding ways to entertain themselves. We were Montessori homeschoolers, so we had plenty of hands-on learning materials and open-ended toys available.
Helpful Ideas about Kids and Technology from Around the Blogosphere
Huffington Post has a series of articles about kids and technology.
The Wall Street Journal has an eye-opening post by Ben Worthen called “What Happens When Toddlers Zone Out on the iPad?”
Parents has many helpful tips in its article by Margery D. Rosen titled “Is Technology Good for Little Kids?”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.” The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommendations for older children as well.
Will Corbin at The Father Life covers a number of topics regarding Montessori and technology in “Would Maria Montessori Have Approved? Technology for Montessori Teachers.”
Hanna Rosin has a fascinating post in The Atlantic about “The Touch Screen Generation.” She discusses a Montessori approach to technology and talks about the technology limits developers of children’s apps place on their own children. (You’ll be surprised!)
In addition to tons of hands-on activities, John Bowman has extensive reviews of Montessori-friendly apps in his Montessori at Home eBook. You’ll find some excerpts and sample pages in my latest Montessori at Home post.
I have a post at Living Montessori Now called “Montessori-Inspired Screen-Free Activities.”
I have a post at Bits of Positivity called “The Golden Rule for Back to School” with resources to prevent cyberbullying. The post includes a link to a free eBook about Growing Up Online.
James Fallows has a thought-provoking – and disturbing – post at The Atlantic called “The Art of Staying Focused in a Distracting World.” It emphasizes the importance we play as role models for children. It says: “Kids learn empathy in part through eye contact and gaze. If kids are learning empathy through eye contact, and our eye contact is with devices, they will miss out on empathy.”
In my post at Bits of Positivity called “Are You Really Present for Your Kids?” you’ll find an embedded video that dramatically shows the need for caution with devices.
What Would I Do if I Had Young Children Today?
- If my children were young today, I wouldn’t want them to miss out on the joys of a childhood rich in time outdoors and hands-on practical life and sensory experiences. I’d want them to learn primarily through work with concrete learning materials.
- I’d try to follow the no-screen-time-for-children-under-2 rule.
- The one area in which I’d deviate relates to families who are separated by distance. I think Skype is one of the best technological inventions, and I’d recommend it even for babies who have loved ones in another part of the country or world. (See “Creating Memories Together on Skype.”) I love that grandparents can talk with – or even read to – their grandkids regardless of where they live.
- I’d still like to have as little television as possible. When kids aren’t used to watching television, they just don’t miss it.
- For preschoolers, I’d probably follow the rule that I’ve heard many preschool parents use of no more than 30 minutes per day of computer time. I’d increase the allowed time online as my kids grew older.
- Most of all, I’d try to remember that my kids are much more important than any device. I would want to be a good role model of what’s truly important in life.
What are your rules regarding technology and your children?
Photo Credit: Photo at the top of post by choreograph.
This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their families’ policies on screen time.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants
- Has Technology Taken Away Childhood? — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama worries that technology is intruding on the basic premise of childhood – active play in all forms! Join her as she takes a brief look at how play has changed as technology becomes more integrated into the daily lives of our children.
- Fostering a Healthy Relationship with Technology — Jenn at Adventures Down Under describes her children’s love of screen time and how her family implements their philosophy and policies on technology.
- Kids Chores for Tech Privileges — Crunchy Con Mommy shares how tying chore completion to iPad privileges worked in her house to limit screen time and inspire voluntary room cleaning!
- Screens — Without the benefit of her own experience, sustainablemum explains her family’s use of technology in their home.
- Screen Time – The Battle of Ideologies — Laura from Laura’s Blog explains why she is a mom who prioritizes outdoor natural play for her kids but also lets them have ample screen time.
- The Day My iPhone Died — Revolution Momma at Raising a Revolution questions the role technology plays in her life when she is devastated after losing her phone’s picture collection from her daughter’s first year.
- Finding our Technological Balance — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she finds balance between wanting her daughter to enjoy all the amazing technology available to her, without it overwhelming the natural parenting she’s striving for.
- Raising kids who love TV — Lauren at Hobo Mama sometimes fears what children who love screentime will grow up to be … until she realizes they’ll be just like her.
- No Limits on Screen Time? Is that Natural? — Susan at Together Walking shares misconceptions and benefits of having no limits on technology and screen time in their home.
- Screen Time — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares what is currently working (and what hasn’t) regarding screen time in her household.
- Positive Use of Technology with Kids — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her family’s experiences with early technology, shares helpful resources from around the blogosphere, and speculates on what she’d do as a parent with young children today.
- why i will never quit you, TV — How Emma of Your Fonder Heart came to terms with the fact that screen time is happening, and what balance looks like between real and virtual life for both her toddler AND herself.
- Technology Speaks — Janet at Our Little Acorn finds many uses for technology – including giving her child a voice.
- 5 Ways to Extend Children’s Screen Time into Creative Learning Opportunities — Looking for a way to balance screen time with other fun learning experiences? Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares 5 fun ways to take your child’s love of favorite shows or video games and turn them into creative educational activities.
- What parents can learn about technology from teachers — Douglas Blane at Friendly Encounters discusses how technology in schools enhances children’s learning, and where to find out more.
- 5 Tips for a Peaceful Home — Megan of the Boho Mama and author at Natural Parents Network shares her favorite 5 tips for creating a peaceful home environment.
- Technology and Natural Learning — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes about the importance of technology as a tool for natural, self-directed learning.
- Babies and Technology — Jana Falls shares how her family has coped, changed their use of, relied on, and stopped using various forms of technology since their little man arrived on the scene
- Kids and Technology — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about the benefits of using technology with her preschooler, and includes a few of their favorite resources.
- Using Technology to Your Advantage: Helping Children Find Balance — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how technology can be used or abused and gives a few tips to help children learn balance.
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