08 October 2013

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.

If I was to draw up a list of the things that have given me the most to think about as a parent I think screens and screen time would be high up.  I have no experience to draw on from my own life.  I grew up in a screen free house, well mostly screen free.  There was no TV and a computer made an appearance some time around my early teens but it was not a computer as we know it today.  It was an early one of these which you had to program.  I spent a small amount of time on it early on but I preferred to be outside.  I did not really use a computer intensively until I started my first office based job in my late twenties, up until then I used them a little as a student and at work which was largely based outside.

We have no TV in our home, I have never lived with one but how you watch TV has changed with on demand software such as iplayer.  In some ways this is more addictive than watching 'programmed' TV as you can decide what content you watch and provided there is enough good content you could watch for hours.

We have a computer or a PC as they are now called which again is vastly different from those early days, you can purchase programmes written by others to enable you do a vast array of activities.  The advent of the Internet has changed our use of computers forever, it has become such a key part in the lives of so many around the world and changed the shape of the world for ever.  This again can become addictive as you weave your way around site after site playing games, reading blogs, researching etc.

We also have a digital projector and a large screen (which scrolls away) connected to one of these.  This system allows us to play DVDs, visual content on USBs and from an iPad.

All of these gadgets are easy to use and children can get to grips with them and navigate round them quickly.  They have been part of their lives since they were young so they have known nothing different, so what approach to managing them?  My eldest started to access the PC at around the age of five he watched a few programmes on CBeebies a BBC channel with programmes aimed at that age group.  The quality of the content on these programmes is high and I was happy for him to watch what he liked.  He would watch two or three at a time and then switch it off, at his behest.  As he got older and learnt to read he started to search the Internet himself mostly for research on topics he was interested in at the time.  Then at some point, I am not sure how old he was, he found the world of games and in he was sucked, rather than spending short bursts on the computer the periods got longer and longer and when he did finally come off he could be aggressive, demanding and not a particularly pleasant person to be around.  I knew what was causing it but I was unsure how to manage it.  I read about different strategies and we tried various methods.  I was reluctant to impose limits so we tried a period of self limiting, he decided when to come off but he stayed on for longer and longer periods I think the longest was three hours.  He has always wanted to go on the computer first thing after breakfast so I tried offering other activities but he was not interested he just wanted to go on the computer.  After trying various ways he now has an hour of games and no limit on other use.  The PC we have allows us to limit use so he uses that for games and after an hour it will shut down.  If he wishes to research or watch anything he does so on an iPad and will dip in and out of that during the day or sometimes not at all.   I have noticed that since introducing this he will happily come off the PC, and straight away engage in another activity. We have purposely not downloaded any games apps on the iPad and it does not support the type of games he likes to play.  I hope that as he gets older, he is nearly nine, he will use the PC less for games and then we can take the limit off, I have noticed recently that occasionally he is not playing games on there at all.  When we go away we do not take the iPads with us and they are not missed and if we are staying in a house with a PC he will not ask to use it. We are fortunate to own two different types of hardware for accessing the Internet which has allowed us to put this is place.

My youngest is not using the PC at all at the moment, she watches a few programmes occasionally on  iPlayer and the odd DVD.  I would say this happens about two or three times a week at the moment, her access is not limited and for the moment she is not particularly interested.

As a family we spend an evening or two a week watching a programme together, this is usually a documentary type programme from iPlayer often on wildlife, science or history.  We have watched and learnt about Romans,Greeks, Celts, Burrowing animals, Whales, Sharks, the Sea, Rivers, Endangered Species and much much more. We rarely if ever watch films as a family as we have found very few films that the children are happy to watch without them hiding behind the sofa. Like all aspects of parenting this is where we are at now, if you were to ask me what we were doing in six months I have no doubt it will be different.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
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 PrivilegesCrunchy 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 TechnologyJana 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.


  1. Your son sounds a lot like mine, as far as the tendency to be aggressive after having screen time. My son gets very short-tempered and easily frustrated after screen time (TV or games). He *sort of* recognizes it, but he is highly motivated by screens, so it is difficult. Right now we have a daily limit that we both agreed on. He has partial control over when he gets access and what he can do with his limit, so it's working for us right now. I'm sure it will continue to be something we have to work on!
    ~Dionna @

  2. It is so addictive-for kids and adults alike!! I've started setting the timer on my iPad for my sons turns but it'd be even better if it locked or turned off after the set amount of time!

  3. I applaud you on being able to find a scenario that works for your child. I also think your first computer was pretty cool. :)

  4. I like your point about how screen time might look different in your home in 6 months. As your children get older, have different needs, are able to regulate screen time on their own, etc...I'm sure everything will look quite a bit different. It sounds like you have a good balance now and don't rely on the tube as the sole entertainment for your children!

  5. This sounds like a really good solution. I know too much screen time can make my kiddos wired and grumpy, so we watch for that. It's nice that technology has parent-controlled shut-offs like that now and that it works so well for your son.

  6. I really like your digital projector setup - what a great idea! It sounds like you've navigated quite skillfully through the issues with your oldest and his desire to spend lots of time on the computer. I liked how your solutions involved self imposed limits and gave him responsibility for how he uses his time. Surely that feels better to a child then once again being told what to do!


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