Author Topic: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood  (Read 4094 times)

marble_faun

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Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« on: January 23, 2020, 11:03:05 AM »
Hello all!

I recently had a baby and am looking for some advice.

I am very invested in providing an old-fashioned, low-tech childhood experience for our child.  It makes me sad to imagine the kid just staring at a screen all day or getting hooked on YouTube or whatever. Already my husband and I are avoiding the use of phones/laptops/TV/etc. when our baby is awake, and it feels pretty good to cut way down on all that.

Looking ahead, though... a lot of schools and social groups in my area seem very screen-focused.  Like I'll find a school that looks great, then I'll notice that they tout their program of providing iPads to kindergarteners.  At that age I'd much rather my kid be playing with blocks or crayons and running around on the playground. Also, to me it seems like a bad idea to let little kids have unfettered access to the internet or prop them in front of the TV for hours, but a lot of parents seem to do this.

We have considered Waldorf Schools, but while I love their woodlands aesthetic and low-tech ethos, the overall philosophy might be a little too nutty for us. I've heard horror stories of illiterate Waldorf 6th graders.

Are there any other types of schools that avoid screens and tech?  Or parent groups that I should be seeking out, to join a community of like-minded families?  Any other resources or books I might find useful?

I get that we can't shield our child forever.  Eventually the kid will use the internet and will have some form of cell phone.  But especially for the formative elementary school years, we want to limit the exposure and encourage analog forms of play, imagination, attention-span-building, etc.

Thank you!

TVRodriguez

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2020, 12:55:56 PM »
Our kids were in a Montessori school, which I found to be pretty good at keeping things low-tech.

GizmoTX

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2020, 01:25:38 PM »
+1 for Montessori pre-school. Lots of manipulatives & life skills.

We utilized high quality kid videos & recorded programs that we prescreened for our son, and limited his access to them on a TV in the family room. When he was in grade school, we utilized some educational software that drilled skills in a fun way. We provided lots of books & read them aloud daily, even when he was learning to read. When he advanced to chapter books, we often provided its audio recording while he followed the visual text. We provided a dumb cellphone when he started activities separately from us, around 12 years old.


TVRodriguez

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2020, 11:24:52 AM »
+1 for Montessori pre-school. Lots of manipulatives & life skills.

We utilized high quality kid videos & recorded programs that we prescreened for our son, and limited his access to them on a TV in the family room. When he was in grade school, we utilized some educational software that drilled skills in a fun way. We provided lots of books & read them aloud daily, even when he was learning to read. When he advanced to chapter books, we often provided its audio recording while he followed the visual text. We provided a dumb cellphone when he started activities separately from us, around 12 years old.

Other things we've done with varied success:
-put hard limits on screen time at home (changing with age, currently, video time is from 7-8:30pm and bedtime is at 9pm)
-I read to the kids every night at bedtime, despite all of them being big readers themselves--we pick a chapter book series together and I read a chapter a night, plus another 10 minutes at breakfast on school days
-kids are only allowed video games on weekend mornings for 2 hours each weekend day (or school holiday), and once they're off, they have to do other things
-no phones until 7th grade and then heavily monitored where no apps can be downloaded without parental permission (enforced on the device)
-limit my own phone use when with kids
-model low-tech leisure activities (I read actual books a lot, and lo and behold, so do my kids; DH bought some brainteaser 3D puzzles to do on his downtime; DH built a firepit for the backyard; we play a lot of Connect 4 and Chess with the youngest lately and played tons of Ticket to Ride with the oldest in years past)
-have family bike outings and similar things be part of most weekends
-have instruments even if we can't play them (and I've worked a bit at re-learning some of the piano I lost over the years and have improved) and use them in front of the kids
-bring paper and pens or things like MadLibs with us to restaurants on those rare occasions when we go out to eat, so there is something non-tech to do together while we wait for service
-we allow use of home computers for schoolwork and to practice typing/keyboarding and very rarely for math games, but not just to randomly scroll through youtube and the like
-no social media allowed for kids so far (our oldest is 12 and uninterested so far anyway), and we model by generally not using social media (no FB, Insta, Twitter, etc for either of us, although I do use pinterest sometimes)


That said, DH loves Alexa, of which we have a few, and the kids use it to play music, to play ambient noise (rainstorms), to ask it trivia, to set timers for brushing teeth (personally I always ask it to play "Hit the Road, Jack" for toothbrushing b/c that song is 2 minutes long), and other small things.

I also do not limit the kids in video game play or tv watching at other people's houses (at playdates, for example).  I don't want their friends to disinvite them just for not being able to play with them.

trollwithamustache

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2020, 11:58:20 AM »
it is possible to run a massively low tech childhood. We did and would do it again. Know that you are doing something not normal and will get some flak for it. Hold the line!

1. I-pads are a scourge in schools, but seem unavoidable. As they get older, we pushed the computer and content generation over the tablet and consumption.  This is a point the dear lady troll never fully agreed with me on, but I figured if they strapped a phone to the remote control car, then made a video, got it on the computer and diddled  with it, they were making something and that was far better than just watching YouTube videos. same idea with drawing programs.

2. computer access was also only on a shared computer in the living room until later when kids had enough stuff to type up that they each eventually gone a laptop.

3. You can turn off your homes router after 8pm. Its also been good for adult conversations, as after that shut off, we couldn't obsessively research whatever we were looking up!

starbuck

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2020, 01:44:44 PM »
-bring paper and pens or things like MadLibs with us to restaurants on those rare occasions when we go out to eat, so there is something non-tech to do together while we wait for service

Oooh I love this idea! My oldest is only 4 but I'm putting this in the back of my mind for when they're older.

Many of the families I know with toddlers are getting Alexas for their houses, and even putting Alexas in their kids rooms so they can listen to Baby Shark independently and on demand. We went in the other direction and gave our 4 year old a cd player for Christmas. He was gifted an assortment of (used) musical cds, and we borrow new ones from the library, as well as book+CD story bags. It's been a big hit.

Goldielocks

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2020, 01:33:23 PM »
We went on weekend day outings (and sometimes after school / work) that were deliberately low tech.

Camping, going to history museums with live actors, go to the beach, be a tourist in your own town, science museum, go for a drive to get ice cream, that sort of thing.

Packing a bag with low tech entertainment, finding something to reach for that is not an iPad is far better than just intending not to give the iPad.

The idea is to deliberately plan times where no or low tech so that when the kid is bored they know how to enjoy other things /entertain themselves.  Tech its self is not the problem, I think the problem is when it is the ONLY solution for quiet / boring times. 

Too much Tech also interferes with social skills - making friends, enjoying being near / around people, small conversations, eye contact, so plan things that involve skills building in that, too, once they are 4 years and older.

My kids are older now, but I did just talk to my son about keeping his phone off completely during study hall, so when he needs a study break, to stretch / walk, daydream, whatever...and then get back to studying... that the phone games are more like "pause" than "refresh the mind" breaks and weren't helping him.   I hope he gets it.

Luz

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2020, 08:01:33 PM »
Screenfreeparenting.com has some good resources and also a facebook group that is so-so. I especially like the website's activity list, since it's more like the old-fashioned fun my siblings and I had as kids rather than the intimidating curated activities from Pinterest that are more common today.

My husband and I both grew up without even TV and decided to take the plunge and hold off on screens until our kids are age 7ish, at which time we'll re-evaluate. I don't know anyone else IRL who's doing the same and I don't mention our screen time approach to other parents because it's such a controversial topic.

In the end, I know I'd rely too much on the screen as a babysitter and it's much easier for me to just not have the option. It's a different world now than when I was growing up, but I know my parents survived plane rides, brushing teeth, restaurants, grocery shopping and the like without giving us screens to keep us entertained... and they survived. I trust I will too!
« Last Edit: January 25, 2020, 08:09:07 PM by Luz »

shelivesthedream

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2020, 11:28:40 AM »
PTF, and...

We have a nearly-two-year-old. Things we have done so far:

1. We don't own a TV. We watch a few planned things on the laptop after he goes to bed. So he never sees the TV out to point to and ask for it.

2. Just... don't tell them about TV. Don't offer them your phone to play on. Don't show them photos on your phone. Obviously you can't keep this up forever, but it's worked for us so far! People talk about it like it's inevitable, and I guess eventually he'll find out about this stuff, but why be the one to introduce them to it for the first time?

3. That said, he's ill right now so has spent two days lying on me alternating books about trains and TV (to give me a break). But NOT kids TV! Documentaries about trains and dogs last time he was teething, and the first series of River Cottage this time because it has animals and cars. When he's well again, laptop will go away. (See above about not having a TV "out" for them to notice.)

4. My parents love to show him episodes of Postman Pat and Fireman Sam. He seems kind of confused by them sometimes. I wish they wouldn't but not enough to make a thing of it. However, they have a TV at their house and we have nothing of the kind in our home so clearly kids TV is only available at Granny and Grandad's. See also: biscuits. I assume he will not question this for some time. We don't 100% ban stuff from his life unless it's seriously a health issue, but we can 100% ban stuff from our house. My parents did this with various junk foods when we were little. We knew there would never be fizzy drinks in the house, but we could have them if we went out to a party.

5. In time, we plan to have one family desktop in a central location with the best content filter I can find. I don't mind buying him a mobile for calls and texts in due course because I think it will be a helpful tool to encourage independence, but it will not have internet capability of any kind. That's an "extra" he can pay for himself.

6. I am SOOOOOOOO happy to be the weird one. I combat it with a carefully constructed relaxed shrug and super-casual-tone "Eh, he doesn't watch any shows at the moment. I'm sure he will someday, but right now we just haven't got into it" when someone complains about the Paw Patrol (or whatever it is) theme tune driving them nuts. No one's made a thing of it so far, but the more aggravated they get, the more chill I plan to be until I fall over in a jelloid cool-low-stress-mum heap. I don't JADE about our choices ever. Same with not feeding him cake or whatever. He's never had cake at our house so has no idea it's available (um, every morning naptime I have coffee and a sweet treat of some kind...but why would I make my life hard by telling him about it?) and I avoid giving him sweet stuff at other places too. But I never comment on other people giving stuff to their children, I just say "No thanks, I brought some snacks for him". And give him a plain rice cake. Yeah, I'm a MEAN MUM but he LITERALLY does not know what he is missing.

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2020, 11:55:57 AM »
An issue to be aware of in low-screen parenting is that, unless you put in place some good alternatives and discipline, the kids will generally look to YOU for entertainment instead. My perception is that most of my friends use screens almost entirely as low-cost babysitting to give themselves a break, and I totally understand why.

The childhood that many of us and certainly our parents had, of playing outside with friends for much of our free time, is hard to come by at least in the modern U.S. Most kids are stuck indoors a LOT more than previous generations. We intentionally moved to a (putatively non-Mustachian because of the amount of driving) exurban-esque community where our kids have that freedom to play outside with friends without us fearing CPS will come for us. We did this in order to give ourselves better options than A) always entertaining our kids or B) pushing them away to inside independent play (which IMO is likely to eventually bore any kid - kids want FRIENDS to play with and siblings get old after a while.) or C) Curating & transporting to playdates. Now that my oldest is 6, she can and does go independently knock on known, approved friends' doors and get them to play. It is BLISSFULLY AMAZING when it happens.

I realize that our life is privileged and not something everyone can or will want to choose. But I do think making sure that YOU can get the breaks YOU need, somehow, is crucial to making a low-tech childhood sustainable & happy for everyone.

I'll note that we DO intentionally use screens at particular times. (Not having a TV is crucial to us parents maintaining control over the screentime without much whining). My youngest girl is an absolute TERROR about the pain of having her hair brushed and it was a huge battle every morning. We tried MANY things. I was at the end of my rope and willing to cut her hair short enough that no brushing would be necessary, damn the gender norms and potential teasing, but my husband wasn't. Our solution is 5 minutes of screentime while I brush her hair. It works. It's fine.

Similarly, my husband has a Sunday evenings kid-free social engagement that is very important to his mental health. I kind of hate the timeslot (it's when I want to get ready for the week!), but I've learned to live with it. I've dubbed it "Movie Nite" and give the kids some screentime then, length varying depending on how much I need to get done to finish my weekly prep. That works too.

Overall, I use earlier generations as a guide to how much screentime is appropriate. Occasional special occasions with a lot of screentime (sick days, airplane flights) are balanced by almost every day having very little.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2020, 12:03:33 PM by Gay Burqueño Dad »

shelivesthedream

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2020, 01:11:36 PM »
@Gay Burqueño Dad makes a really good point. We're lucky at the moment to have both of us around most of the time and not a massive to-do list, but you are basically committing to "be the screen" for a while. At nearly two, ToddlerSLTD will sometimes play nicely by himself for a while but...
1. Randomly with no warning
2. Never when we most want him to
3. He still wants us in the same room

We use our phones around him to play music and to internet and he didn't even glance at the screen (in the background) until at least age 1 and has only recently started actually looking at it (and we have therefore cut right back), so you have a while before your casual screen use is a meaningful presence in your baby's life and therefore anything you have t worry about.

historienne

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2020, 10:56:29 AM »
An issue to be aware of in low-screen parenting is that, unless you put in place some good alternatives and discipline, the kids will generally look to YOU for entertainment instead. My perception is that most of my friends use screens almost entirely as low-cost babysitting to give themselves a break, and I totally understand why.

The childhood that many of us and certainly our parents had, of playing outside with friends for much of our free time, is hard to come by at least in the modern U.S. Most kids are stuck indoors a LOT more than previous generations. We intentionally moved to a (putatively non-Mustachian because of the amount of driving) exurban-esque community where our kids have that freedom to play outside with friends without us fearing CPS will come for us. We did this in order to give ourselves better options than A) always entertaining our kids or B) pushing them away to inside independent play (which IMO is likely to eventually bore any kid - kids want FRIENDS to play with and siblings get old after a while.) or C) Curating & transporting to playdates. Now that my oldest is 6, she can and does go independently knock on known, approved friends' doors and get them to play. It is BLISSFULLY AMAZING when it happens.

This is spot-on.  We took a different route to managing the problem which is to pick a house in a dense neighborhood of 19th century rowhomes, across the street from a substantial park.  Density=more kids locally to play with.  We might still have to arrange playdates, but it's more likely to be a walk around the block to drop our kids off off than a drive across town.  Park=there's very often a pack of kids playing just outside our front door.  Once our older kid turned six, we started to be happy to send her across the street (which is low traffic and has speed bumps) to play with friends without our direct supervision.  Even for younger kids, there's a lot of informal babysitting. I frequently send my kid across the street to play with a family that's already there, and just ask the parents to walk my kid back over when they are heading home, or offer to watch a friend's kids in the park so they can go home and get dinner started.  Kids also frequently ride bikes in the alley behind our house.  The parent of whoever goes out first will put cones at the end of the alley to mark the limits of approved play and warn drivers; otherwise, we let them play outside without direct supervision once they hit elementary ages.  Starting around 8, kids roam the neighborhood in groups together, playing in each other's (tiny) yards and alleys.

This strategy obviously depends on being in a neighborhood where comparatively low levels of supervision are normal enough that no one is calling the authorities on us.  In my experience, you're more likely to find that in an economically diverse or working class neighborhood than a gentrified or upper-middle-class one.  Working class parents have never been able to afford the dubious luxury of helicopter-level supervision, so independence happens earlier.

We are not zero-tech, but cultivating a life with lots of opportunities for play with peers allows us to do minimal tech, usually less than an hour per week of screen time.  We are lucky to also have access to a public school with a similar philosophy, which is unusual.  I clutch my pearls a bit at how much screen time there is in typical elementary schools these days, and even some preschools.  You can buy it at a Montessori school or many other private schools, but you pay not only in money but also in the economic diversity of your kid's peer group. 

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2020, 12:49:59 PM »
@historienne - Ha, our exurban-esque home is actually pretty similar to yours in some ways. Although it is surrounded by undeveloped land, the neighborhood is relatively dense for the US (duplexes & single-family homes on 1/10th of an acre lots, with alleys even!) and we intentionally chose a home across the street from the main park. The density does a lot towards getting a "critical mass" of kids allowed/available to play... and towards our kids being willing to walk to other kids' houses to ask them to play :-)

Good point about working-class parents not being able to afford the aptly put "dubious luxury" of helicopter parenting. Our neighborhood being upper-middle-class I think makes it more "dead" than it would be otherwise (but there are still enough like-minded parents to make spontaneous play work).

Goldielocks

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2020, 07:53:57 PM »
PTF, and...


5. In time, we plan to have one family desktop in a central location with the best content filter I can find. I don't mind buying him a mobile for calls and texts in due course because I think it will be a helpful tool to encourage independence, but it will not have internet capability of any kind. That's an "extra" he can pay for himself.

I like all of your other points.  The one above is actually very, very funny.
I, too, tried, this.   No tv in rooms, no cable subscriptions (we have OTA, 2 channels on a good day that no one watches).  I even built a central computer station in an area I walk by / can interact with that is not in their rooms, and we put the only PC there.

Guess what?  That lasted all of 1 month.  As soon as they become aware of tablets, as soon as grandparents gift them a cheapr / used / old tablet for Christmas, as soon as they get a phone, as soon as they make enough babysitting or cash for gifts from a birthday party (age 10 and $10-$20 from each friend is typical)...   well then you are done.

With a tablet, they instantly have phone (skype) + TV + Internet -- in their hands, in their room.   

We even tried shutting off the internet every night at 8pm but mom and dad are super internet fiends (lots of documentaries and research and i was taking on line classes, or working online in the evenings).  So, the internet needed to be on longer and there are so many work arounds for the other systems.

We found it much better to have open conversations and a "box" to put devices into, that was only used and enforced when things started to become a problem.   The tech use was never the originating problem, more of an escape from the underlying problem.

Anyway, I wish you the best, but have a backup plan for this one!

shelivesthedream

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2020, 01:25:26 AM »
Clearly it's going to happen and it's only really a putting-off tactic but I wouldn't expect them to have access to serious spending money of any kind at ten! And grandparents are pretty decent at following our guidance about what would be welcome as a present and what wouldn't.

The main thing that I'm sure is going to make me throw up my hands in despair is that we can put it off for as long as we can with the oldest child but once he's able to buy himself something techy there's nothing to stop him sharing it with younger siblings if he wants to. And once he's discovered the inevitable means of hacking content filters... Etc etc.

I know it's only stalling but I see no reason not to stall. People do say things like "Oh well it's going to happen eventually so we might as well buy them their own unrestricted tablet at age 2".

shelivesthedream

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2020, 10:10:51 AM »
@Goldielocks The really hilarious thing is that we're about to have #2. I'm sure in six weeks time I'll be begging for a bit of electronic babysitting!

marble_faun

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2020, 10:40:06 AM »
Thank you, everyone, for the responses thus far!

I have looked into Montessori schools, and we do have some in our area!  It seems like a good compromise between a regular school and something more fringe-y like Waldorf.  That may well end up being our path!

I also appreciate the conversation about neighborhoods. We are hoping to buy a house this year, and I'll take into account these ideas about spontaneous outdoor play.

I do honestly dread the inevitability of tech (really meaning the internet) infiltrating my child's life and mental development in a negative way and want to stave it off for as long as humanly possible.  I will sacrifice a lot of social/parental capital for this.

Please keep the ideas coming!

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2020, 11:10:35 AM »
When you look for a house, drive around the neighborhoods in the evenings and on weekends and see if there are actually children playing outside.  Our neighborhood is full of kids, but there are only a handful of them outdoors.  I've gotten fussed at by neighbors for letting my kids (then aged 8-10) play outside by themselves. <insert giant eye roll>

Technology is now a fact of life at elementary school.  They watch the occasional movie, they play learning games on tablets or computers, they learn to type their papers.   My 5th grader has required online homework every single day, and my junior high kids only have online textbooks.

At our house, electronics are banned on school nights, except for homework and an occasional television show or podcast we enjoy together (most recently, Jeopardy).  We don't allow social media or commenting on the internet AT ALL.  (After one kid got a 2-month ban from all electronics, they know we are serious.) 

There are exceptions.  D14 discovered YouTube about age 7 and constantly wanted to watch videos about doing hair or making jewelry or doing other crafts.  (I was born without a craft gene.)  She taught herself all kinds of skills.  Now she watches videos of volleyball games so she can learn from the top players.   I have relaxed some of the rules for her because she is using her electronics in a way that benefits our ultimate goals.  She's watching while practicing a physical skill that she can eventually do without the screen.

I can trust D14 and D12 to balance their screen time with reading and exercise and friends and crafts.  Not so much S10, so his rules are stricter.   Even he stops complaining when we have fun family activities to do - walks, board game nights, dance contests, book night.

You'll figure out your kid's personality and needs and adjust.   

shelivesthedream

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2020, 11:37:40 AM »
I will sacrifice a lot of social/parental capital for this.

On this note, I have found it helpful thus far (ToddlerSLTD being nearly two) to construct a consciously relaxed persona around issues like tech and sugar when I talk to other adults about it. I think it's easy to be dismissed as hysterical, no fun or a nag when you make different parenting choices. Of course if someone really asked me about my methods and reasoning (as you are doing now!) I'd have no problem talking about it, but otherwise I am as casual and noncommittal as possible.

"Would ToddlerSLTD like a chocolate biscuit and some squash?"
"No thanks, he's only just had a snack before we arrived." "I brought some stuff for him, thanks." "Maybe later, we're OK for now."

..rather than, "NO!!! Get that away from him! Do you have any idea how bad that stuff is for their little brains and metabolisms?! DO YOU WANT HIM TO HAVE DIABETES/ADHD BEFORE HE CAN EVEN TALK?!??!"*

*Not my actual opinion, but I've read a lot of really offputting stuff online in my own researches about low-sugar and low-tech childhood, which involved eyerolling on my part.

I can have any histrionics I feel I need to in the privacy of my own home with Mr SLTD. I don't feel I have had to expend any social/parental capital yet, and excluding when he's been ill and watched documentaries with/while sleeping on me, ToddlerSLTD has only watched a couple of episodes of Postman Pat at my parents' house (which apparently he wasn't even that into because they have a wooden train set and TRAAAAIIIIINSSSS!!!) and had a few bites of their cake a couple of times. He doesn't go to nursery but if he did I would prioritise one with real food and no tech, but that's not too hard to find round here.

I've found it a big motivator as he's got older to try to curtail my own sugar/tech consumption. My biggest goal in this regard is to discipline myself to lead by example.

LiveLean

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2020, 01:47:29 PM »
Read books to your child for a minimum of an hour a night. Every night, even from birth. If you're putting them to bed at 7, start reading at 6.  If you're bilingual, which I'm not, do 30 minutes in each language. Keep going as long as possible, even after they're reading.

Our oldest was born in December 2002. In January 2009, we started the first Harry Potter book. A few months into the year, I'd have him read when my voice got tired. Much to my pleasant surprise, he didn't miss a beat. We finished the seventh book that August.

That little dude, now 17, got a perfect 36 on the Reading portion of his ACT last month. Like all modern parents, we fight the battle of screens -- and we're thankful the years 2003-2011  were much different from a tech standpoint than today. Even his brother, born just 2.5 years later, is  much more of a screen-ager.

Whatever measures you take, stick with them. The battle of the screens will be your No.1 parenting challenge. Not alcohol, drugs, sex -- screens. Good luck.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2020, 01:49:09 PM by LiveLean »

shelivesthedream

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #20 on: February 05, 2020, 01:50:17 AM »
@marble_faun Here's an interesting intersection between this and your thread on modern book recommendations. The other day I was reading a library book to ToddlerSLTD and was incensed to find Kipper the dog (whom I remember from MY childhood) looking something up on a freaking tablet rather than in a book! I'm not trying to trick him into thinking it's the 1950s but dammit, I'm reading to him so he doesn't find out what tablets are until he has to!

BeanCounter

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2020, 04:57:02 AM »
We have two boys, 11 and 7. So we are in the think of it. My $0.02-
We did Montessori preschool and that helped while they were younger. Their tech then was just watching the occasional PBS kids show TOGETHER (I do love Curious George). It became harder as the oldest went to elementary school. A psychiatrist friend then told me that video games are social currency for boys. I think that is a really important thing to be aware of. So while you don’t have to allow everything all the time, if you don’t allow any gaming they really do struggle to connect with the other boys at school.
Our rules-
-no screens during the week with the exception of a family tv show that we watch together.
-no phones- my oldest will get one when he is 13, but I’ll still restrict games and social media on it until he is in high school
-my DH and I don’t use our phones for games and we don’t pull it out when waiting or on car trips
-no tech in restaurants, at the table or on long car trips.
-no YouTube- too much to monitor, lots of good stuff out there but lots of crap too
-we do have one tablet but that was a huge mistake we have now restricted that to just school stuff- quizlet, looking something up etc
-this Christmas we finally got an Xbox, we were just using an old WiiU to play Mario and Splatoon but it was time to upgrade to what other friends play- nBA2k, Madden and yes Fortnight. We allow them to play online with school friends or in person with friends on the weekend.
-All tech is in the family room, next to the kitchen where I can see what is going on. I don’t really like them playing Fortnight, but I recognize that it’s socially important to my oldest.

Essentially we try to make tech as social as possible and not something you do when you are board, or just killing time. And certainly not something a parent hands over to occupy the kid.
With all their activities, there isn’t much of that anyway.

Essentially we
« Last Edit: February 05, 2020, 04:59:08 AM by BeanCounter »

marble_faun

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #22 on: February 05, 2020, 09:42:20 AM »
@shelivesthedream : That would bother me too!

@BeanCounter : Yeah, the games/tech-as-social-currency thing is a quandary, which is part of why we would love to be able to find a school community where it isn't in favor among other families. 

I have a teenage cousin.  Years ago his dad would mourn the fact that his son was playing video games all the time and not reading books or engaging in social interactions.  But recently he mentioned that another kid in my cousin's class wasn't ever allowed to play video games, and my uncle now thinks it actually inhibits socialization NOT to play them!  To me that seemed so sad. Like this kid's parents wanted him to be well-socialized, and now he's the odd man out.

We ourselves grew up playing Nintendo on occasion.  But it seems like nowadays games are purposefully designed to be addictive and to continually extract money or information out of people, with things like loot-boxes or the Facebook games that get access to your personal data.

Plus there's the whole issue with child predators lurking on Fortnite (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/07/us/video-games-child-sex-abuse.html). 

It just seems like a whole realm of worry I'd rather not have to deal with!

Luz

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2020, 07:49:40 PM »
I don't think kids will necessarily look to you for entertainment if you don't have a TV.

Growing up, my mom never played with my siblings and I. She was warm and responsive, but didn't see it as her role to entertain (like most parents of her and previous generations). In fact, when we said we were bored, she would say "oooh, that's great! I have some chores that will keep you occupied!". We quickly found something else to do. Boredom is a really important piece of creativity.


MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #24 on: February 11, 2020, 07:58:17 PM »
We have two boys, aged 13 & 14. We both also work in tech, & live in silicon valley. We are total outliers, the kids know, and do sometimes complain, but such is life.

1) No cell phones until 7th grade. Then, closely monitored, no apps allowed without parental approval (required by the software).
2) No gaming of any kind at our house. On an airplane? No problem. On a super long car trip (6 hours+)? Maybe, up for discussion. With limits at my parents house 1 week/year? Sure. At friends house? Yes.
3) Routers go off at 8 pm at our house
4) No TVs, iPads, or any electronics (other than what's required for homework) during the school week. They have homework, sports, or can read.

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #25 on: February 12, 2020, 12:14:31 PM »
@Luz - From my personal observation, kids watching TV at home interact with parents less than when they're doing anything else (except for maybe knowingly being naughty). Yes, it's possible to set boundaries and expect kids to entertain themselves. But if little kids are cooped up inside and not on screens, my contention is that a caregiver is going to have to interact with them regularly (not necessarily for entertainment). And honestly, just interacting with their children at all is something that most parents need breaks from.

Kids watching TV are pacified and uninteractive in a way that they're not when playing or whatever (at least, when playing inside). If kids (mine are 4 and 6) are playing upstairs at my house, they're going to get in a big argument or hurt each other every half hour at least. I step in in those cases. Possibly one could step in less.

Regardless, the bigger point is to think about how you're going to get the breaks you need without (a lot of) TV. I think that's crucial for parents who want less screentime to actually achieve it.

Luz

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #26 on: February 12, 2020, 08:41:27 PM »
@Gay Burqueño Dad- That's true about interacting with them regularly even if you aren't entertaining them. But I wonder if previous generations found their interactions with their kids as exhausting as ours seems to find them. Raising kids has always has been tiring, but I don't think parents were as burned out as they are today. I think the ways in which we modern parents raise our kids (intensively and with their happiness and success as our top priority) is what feeds the reliance on technology.

I agree that figuring out how to refill your pitcher as a parent (without reliance or over-reliance on technology) is really important. But I think it's even more important to take a deeper look at why we're running on empty all the time in the first place. How can we be with our kids in a way that doesn't suck us dry?









ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2020, 10:22:00 AM »
I've given a lot of thought about this, and I'm posting to follow.

"Tech" is such a broad topic that it's hard for me to take a bright line stance and apply it to every subset of the topic.  I don't think a "blackout" approach is best, but I'm also extremely weary of tech.  I guess I'm a moderate?  I don't know and I'm looking for ideas here.

***

I don't really have any personal objection to television, so long as it's not *always* on 24/7.  Maybe that's because I grew up with TVs all over my house, but I did not and still do not view it as destructive behavior.  Sports are an important part of my family and pride about where we are from (Ohio/Cleveland), so I always watch Ohio State, the Indians, etc.  I also watch maybe 1-2 shows to unwind before bed, and that's about it.  It's basically just sports (if something is on) and a Netflix show (right now is Madmen ... so, so, so fucking good) before bed.  I think this is a decent balance.

I do have objections to social media.  I have a Facebook account but have not posted since 2013.  Have not posted on Twitter since 2018.  Have an Instagram account but have not posted in over a year.  As of now, there are only 1-2 pictures of my son on social media.  I think social media is a net negative ecosystem, so I avoid posting in it, although I do still follow to see what's going on in people's lives (owning my own business, I need to strike up conversations with people).

I am extremely mixed about cell phones and tablets.  My iPad is basically used only to watch videos while doing cardio and work-related activities.  I also have the Libby app on there so I can read whenever I want.  I think this is a good balance.  Cell phones are a different story.  I've mostly geared mine towards "business only," but I'd be lying if I said I was not on it all day.  This worries me much more than tablets.

***

To summarize my plan -- not going to blackout TV, but will probably limit it to live events/educational shows; not going to encourage social media; not going to allow tablets/cell phones until middle school, at least. 

I guess I'm looking for balance, but that might be harder than a total blackout.  I'll learn as I go I guess.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2020, 11:00:37 AM »
Interesting how we're affected by what we grew up with. I view computer games much more benevolently than television, probably because of how I experienced them both as I grew up. I was not a particularly responsible user of either, but television for me was a trashy, passive experience whereas looking back I feel like computer games (solo, pre-internet!) tended to engage me much more in solving problems and creating things - even if it was just designing mansions for my Sims using cheat codes :P

nessness

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2020, 03:26:41 PM »
@Luz I think the difference is that parents in previous generations were more likely to have help from extended family and neighbors, and were also more able to send their kids outside to play alone. Most older people I know can tell stories of their parents kicking them out of the house and telling them not to come back until dinnertime. You'd probably get arrested if you tried to do that today.

Gay Burqueño Dad

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #30 on: February 13, 2020, 08:30:11 PM »
@nessness - I agree. Survey data shows that moms *working full time* now, do more hours of childcare per week than *stay at home* moms did 50 years ago. I’m guessing this is due to all the factors you mention.

Luz

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Re: Advice for Maintaining Low-Tech Childhood
« Reply #31 on: February 18, 2020, 08:25:10 PM »
@nessness I think the factors you mentioned are important pieces, but not the only ones.

I would guess that the way this generation disciplines their kids has a lot to do with it as well. I hate to mention discipline because people's hackles come up when you do. But I'm just talking about the manner in which people teach their children and the philosophical approach they take. A lot has changed since the 50's and it's not just a parent's ability to shuttle their kids out the back door to play.

It seems that today's parents exert much more psychological control (micromanagement) on their kids than previous generations. And have much more lenient behavioral expectations. And that's a completely exhausting combination. The reverse: behavioral control (setting firm limits and following though) and granting kids psychological freedom required much less from previous parents, I would gather.

Have you read "Unequal Childhoods" "All Joy and No Fun" or "Bringing Up Bebe"? All three talk quite a bit about the reasons why modern parenting has become so taxing.

I would argue that although kids have less freedom to roam around outside in today's world, parents can still expect them to reasonably entertain themselves inside for a few hours a day. My siblings and I spent hours playing inside (harsh winters) and also had "quiet time" for an hour every day where we were to do something non-noisy and solitary.
Parents can also still be outside monitoring their kids without necessarily interacting with them much. Definitely more of a pain than just sending them out the door, but better than always being "on". And then taking a desperately needed break by overdoing it on screen time.