Before our oldest son was born, my husband and I decided we would raise our children without the aid of small-screen technology. A dinner conversation during pregnancy turned into a parenting philosophy, and we never really looked back. Today, we are in the minority. I actually cannot name a friend whose child(ren) do not use small screens daily in some capacity.
As a mother who is pretty much constantly plugged in for work as a WAHM with a husband who has two degrees from MIT, you’d think tech would be at the center of our parenting philosophy. Nope! Our boys have never, not once, used a smartphone, tablet, or computer. We are raising tech-free little kids.
I believe very strongly that a parent’s decision to limit technology (or not) is a personal choice. However, hand-held tech is often touted as being a parenting resource — one that makes life easier. In fact, in most of the mommy wars I’ve witnessed, fellow moms are quick to come to the defense of the mom who has offered her child the use of her phone or iPad because A) it isn’t a bad thing (true — there are worse things), and B) it makes a mom’s life easier.
I’m here to tell you that being tech-free can make things easier too! Here’s how:
1. My kids don’t know what screen time is, and as a result, they don’t ask for it!
I get enough requests every day. Snacks, playtime, butts to be wiped. I’m glad I’m not also fending off requests for screen time.
2. My kids don’t beg for new toys or know about the latest craze.
We don’t have cable, and our boys don’t have access to a phone or tablet, so they have very limited knowledge of any popular culture. They don’t see toy commercials on Nickelodeon and they don’t watch the toy unveilings on YouTube. This makes Christmas (so far) SO EASY. I do expect that as my oldest son gets further into elementary school we’ll combat this a bit more, but for now, it’s fabulous!
3. My kids don’t touch my phone.
If the screen gets shattered, I’ll have to blame myself. No tiny hands are touching my phone. It’s a hard rule in our household and has probably saved me some sanity and some dollar bills already.
4. My kids are patient.
This one is a hot-button point, but I have to say it: Technology can be a crutch. My kids have been known to sit through six hours of doctors appointments with nothing more than a pad of paper, some crayons, and whatever small toys I can find in my purse. Were these days super easy for me? No. But you know what? We survived, and I am very, very sure the boys gained something from having to sit and be polite for all of those hours. We have had nurses, hygienists, and waitresses tell us it has been months or even years (!) since they saw two small children sit still without a small screen. It can be done!
5. My kids really, really love movies.
There’s something to be said about the novelty of a treat you don’t get to have very often. My kids LOVE watching movies. They do watch a TV show almost every day, but movies are special, and I believe that limiting their screen time helps to make this so.
I do realize that my boys will need to use computers and maybe even iPads in their classrooms and for their homework. I am not an extremist — when the time comes that it is necessary, we will introduce our kids to the family computer and will set expectations for its use. But for now, we are committed to raising tech-free kids and committed to sharing WHY we chose this for our family.
Raising children in the world of technology is complicated. I’m here cheering you on if you decide to wait on the small screens. More power to you, mama!