Welcome to the October 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Technology
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly 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.
|He figured out the remote early.|
Sometimes I feel sheepish admitting how much I love television. In the natural world, it's decidedly unhippy because children should be playing with only handcarved wooden toys and spending eight hours a day frolicking in dandelions. In the parenting world, it's considered downright reckless, what with the brain rotting and all. And just in regular discourse, TV is too low-brow to impress anybody.
Particularly if you're not all that discriminating about what you'll watch. I will watch many, many different shows — and do. I mean, I watch Masterpiece Theatre, but I've also watched Toddlers & Tiaras. Sam's a big fan of TV, too, with his own favorites; we watch a lot of detective shows together, and he tracks football games on his own. And our children are the same with their beloved shows. Alrik's mantra is "Taillou, Taillou!" (well, that's how he says it!) and Mikko's is … watching whatever is on.
The other day, I was fretting: What does a child look like when he grows up if he loves TV a lot? What sort of person is he if he adores "screen time" and lives great quantities of his life online? What if even his profession is tied to a screen — and then his free time, his relaxing choice, is also to enjoy a movie or show?
Oh — it finally occurred to me:
He'll look like me!
Well. That's all right, then. I'm pretty fine with me.
I think we can get caught up in the "Oh, noes, not screen time!" worries and guilt-tripping and forget that people who love screens can be quite good people — people with ambitions and hobbies and social lives. People who spend time outdoors, exercise, and have readable brain activity.
I'm not diminishing the studies that suggest forgoing TV for the under-two set (we aim to do that) and limiting it for kids so they have chances for self-directed and active play (there's a reason there's an "off" button on the set). And I believe in balance — if we get off-balance in our TV-viewing or other screen activities (Kindle apps, Xbox, computer games, checking the smartphone, etc.), I feel it, and I respond. I have one child who self-regulates (Alrik) and will turn away from the screen and onto other play (or sleep) when he's had enough; I have another with a much more obsessive personality (Mikko) who can watch till he, literally, drops. So I distract, and offer appealing alternatives, and get them out of the house and away as needed.
But this post is not about how we're secretly virtuous. We're not — well, not if TV can be classified only as a "guilty" pleasure. I'm not one of those people who says, "Well, at least we don't have cable." Or, "We only stream on Netflix on our laptop; we don't even have a television set." Or, "Oh, we only get educational DVDs out of the library. Occasionally. And watch them after the kids go to bed."
No, no. We have cable, and Tivo (broken at the moment, but still), and On Demand programming through our cable company, and Amazon Prime Instant Video, and season-set DVDs from the library, and a Hulu queue, and you know what — I like it. I like TV. I like that my kids like it. I like that they'll grow up like me with fond memories of shows and a camaraderie with peers who watched the same ones. (Any Punky Brewster fans in the house? Can you sing the theme songs to Facts of Life, Family Ties, Growing Pains, or — heaven forbid — Small Wonder? Did I just get any of that stuck in your head? You're welcome!)
I don't have a doomsday attitude about growing up watching TV, because: I did, starting with Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers and Electric Company (my mom chose afternoon kindergarten for me so I could start the day rather lazily with a meal and my shows) and progressing on to sitcoms and snuggling next to my parents for their primetime viewing. And I feel fine about my brainpower, my family life, my physical health, and my ability to get things done. For instance? I'm watching TV as I write this post. Awww, yeeaaah.
Do you or your kids watch TV? Do you feel guilty about it? Do you think I'm delusional for liking TV — or for admitting it?
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (list will be updated throughout the day on October 8)
- 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.