On Monday, I wrote my part 1 story about how our family went tech free for a year when my kids were 6 years, 3 years & 5 months.
So where are we today in 2019 with technology?
My kids are now 9, 6 & 3 and are allowed different amounts & types of technology based on what is appropriate for their ages. What is good for the 9 year old isn’t necessarily going to be good for the 3 year old & vice versa. So while we have guidelines we like to follow, nothing is set in stone. We have a flexible structure in our approach to how we allow the family to use tech. Parenting is about constant evaluation right??
We still don’t have tablets for them to use & I’m fine with it. It works for us & we are all happier without them. When they’re older, we can revisit this if there is a need for them. They get an hour of technology time from 3-4 PM after school where they can choose to play videos games on their dad’s PS4, my oldest has as DS, they can watch a movie or they can play games on my computer.
At 4 PM, it all goes off unless they have friends over. I’m much more lax on how much time they spend playing video games or watching movies when company is around (as long as the other parents are fine with it.) I will also allow some movie watching on my phone in desperate times, but it’s rare or very limited. But it does happen & I’m okay with it because I know we aren’t going to use it all the time!
My phone also switches to do not disturb for several hours during the day once they are home from school. I’m not going to preach at them not to use tech & then let them watch me using it when they can’t. If I’m not doing chores around the house that need done, I’m sitting with them in the living room with the kids reading a book, talking about the day or doing an activity with them.
We do not use YouTube, YouTube Kids, or certain video games. All technology is kept in the main living spaces & none of the kids have their own gaming systems in their rooms. This is partly because of safety guidelines I believe are important, but also because I’m frugal as all get out & I’d rather spend my money elsewhere (like hiking gear & vacations!) We do have a “kid” tv in my oldest’s room where I have the only remote to it on my phone. To be completely honest, the fire stick is broken so we haven’t used it in over 7 months. I forget it’s there & it’s probably time to Marie Kondo it out of the house.
There have been times over the last year where I have downloaded some games on my phone when I absolutely need the distraction for them & they always become an issue when they are there for too long. The kids will ask for them when we’re out to dinner, in the car, or it will cause fights because they don’t want to share games. A few months ago, I decided I was done with it & deleted the games again. It’s amazing how they quit asking for the games once they know they’re gone & they find other activities to entertain themselves.
Over the last 3 years, there have been so many times when I am proud that I have given my kids the “gift of boredom.” It’s usually when we are out to eat or at someone’s home & my kids find a way to entertain themselves without sitting there begging me for the iPad. We are more active as a family now & some of that is because I’m not willing to hand my phone over to the kids to get them to be quiet.
For example, I will be sitting in the house on a Sunday & everyone is bouncing off the walls, I’m completely overwhelmed, & I will load them up to do something outside. That wasn’t happening in 2016 for a various reasons (new baby, not on my health journey yet, etc.) I’m proud of how far we’ve come & the limits we’ve set for the family, I’m excited to see how this journey continues to evolve!
I know people get so defensive about this subject, trust me I understand. No one wants to feel judged for the decisions they make for their family. I am honestly not making a statement on what I think every family should do. Truly, I’m not. What works for my family is not necessarily going to work for your family because we all live under different circumstances. And that is OK!!! If you’re happy where your family lands on the technology scale, great! I’m happy you figured out that balance faster than I did. If you are unhappy with your family’s tech usage & you’re wanting to run your own experiment on phasing out some of the tech use in your house, then I hope I can give you some insights of our journey & help you make some changes if you would like to see in your family’s life!
How does your family handle technology?