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.
|My 6-yr-old playing the "Stack The States" iPad app|
With a world of answers literally at our fingertips, answering questions and expanding knowledge have never been quicker or easier. When I think about the many questions I must have had as a child, I know that a lot of them went unanswered or were answered so long after the question was asked that they became irrelevant. Today, my children can ask a question, have it answered thoroughly in real-time, and often find that the question sparks additional interest or inquiry, leading to a trip to the library or museum or some other avenue for further exploration. Technology is the most important tool of our modern culture and we should take full advantage of all it offers for education, information, communication, collaboration, documentation, and entertainment.
As Boston College psychology professor and self-directed learning advocate, Peter Gray, writes in his book, Free to Learn, and on his blog: "The computer is, without question, the single most important tool of modern society. Our limiting kids' computer time would be like hunter-gatherer adults limiting their kids' bow-and-arrow time. Children come into the world designed to look around and figure out what they need to know in order to make it in the culture into which they are born." Now, Gray makes the point that hunter-gatherer parents keep the poison arrows out-of-reach of their children, just as modern parents should limit certain technology or media that we deem inappropriate or potentially dangerous, but helping our children use this important tool to answer their questions, explore their interests, and become more familiar with their world is a worthwhile process.
What about the kids who would sit and watch tv or play video games all day? In most cases, children who over-use technology or use it inappropriately do not have access to other stimulating resources or opportunities, and are using technology as an escape from an overly-scheduled, adult-driven, school-centered life. As Gray states: "At school and in other adult-dominated contexts they may be treated as idiots who need constant direction, but in the game they are in charge and can solve difficult problems and exhibit extraordinary skills." If children (indeed all of us) are given true freedom to learn, in non-coercive settings, surrounded by stimulating resources and access to friends, they will not abuse technology or use it as an escape, and it will become the important learning complement it has the power to be.
So what does technology and natural learning look like for our family? Mostly, we use technology (such as iPhones, iPods, iPads, and computers) to answer questions, gather information, communicate with others, explore interests, listen to songs and stories (especially Sparkle Stories), enjoy educational applications, and watch occasional movies or shows. We don't have a television or cable in our home, so in some ways our technology media is self-limiting, but with Netflix, iTunes, and YouTube we can enjoy and learn from media without the commercialism.
The key is to embrace technology as an important tool for natural learning, help our children recognize its power and use it appropriately, and allow it to help them answer their questions and expand their knowledge of this vast and ever-changing world.
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.