Sunday, November 30, 2014

My (mostly) electronics-free kids

The girls' school is very much focused on behavioral rewards type programs.  The school itself has a program in place that everyone follows and teachers have variations of their own programs that they use in addition to the school-wide program.  The concept is simple - good behavior earns rewards.  The rewards are given to a class by the teacher and usually the class decides by majority vote on the reward.  Some of the rewards the girls' classes have enjoyed this year include an extra ten minutes of recess, eating lunch outside as a picnic instead of in the cafeteria, stuffed animal day and electronics day.

Apparently, one of Allie's classmates suggested electronics day, the teacher cleared it with the principal and so that was their reward.  Allie came home from school and told us that we needed to buy her an "electronics" to bring to school.  Um, no.  I told her that I found it hard to believe that she was the only kid in the class without an electronic item to bring to school.  By that point, her teacher had sent home an email explaining that the kids would be allowed to use whatever they brought in for about 10 minutes that afternoon and that she would have four computers set up for kids to use if they didn't bring in an electronic item.  Allie survived.  She ended up sharing some handheld game thing with a friend of hers.


So while I don't think that "kids + electronics" is a bad thing, I don't think that my kids need electronic items of their own right now.  They use our iPhones here and there, mainly to scroll through pictures and occasionally, they play games on our computers.  I fear that introducing additional electronics into our home will create more of a headache.  

With Christmas approaching, I asked the girls for their wish lists.  Here was the start of one


and here's the conversation I had with her the other day.

Me:  "Emily, do you want a kindle or a kindle fire?"

Emily:  "Just a regular kindle."

Me:  "What do you want to do with it?"

Emily:  "I just want to read books."

Meanwhile, Anna has asked for an iPod touch.  When I asked her what she wants it for, her response was "to play games."  Honestly, an iPod touch right now is out of the question.  A kindle is not but I'm not going to give only one kid a kindle.  The joy of being a triplet.  I think this will be an electronics-free holiday and I'll revisit for their birthday.

This weekend, as a test of sorts, I borrowed some kid books from the library on my kindle.  The girls are actually pretty responsible so I wasn't concerned from that point of view.  I really wanted to see if they would be able to use the kindle on their own or if I would be inundated with questions.  Well, they were able to use it without much guidance.

As a child of the '80s, I grew up without Atari or cable television and I survived just fine.


Katie said...

It's nice that Emily she asked for a device so that she could read more.

(Also can you imagine the potential for disaster from "electronics day"... what if a kid lost his $400 dollar iPod? What if another kid stole it? That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen).

Sarah said...

I know, Katie. That was my thought too. In her email to the parents, her teacher asked that all devices be labeled and that the more expensive items stay home. According to Allie, there were no issues.

Ironic enough, Emily's class has sharing once a week and a girl's Elsa doll went missing. I was in her class the next morning to help with Halloween crafts and her teacher was asking if anyone had "accidentally" brought the doll home.

Karen said...

Interesting book for you--Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn. Just food for thought (I have skimmed it).

I think you are pretty sensible with your technology use. I try to limit my daughter's use of devices, but she watches at least one episode of her TV show on my kindle each day. Usually it's the first thing she wants to do.

Lisa MH said...

We completely agree with you on the no electronics front. I grew up without a tv because my mom didn't believe in electronics--and ironically, my husband and I both work in tv--but we don't let our daughter watch anything. Madison is currently 14 months old and has yet to watch tv, play on a phone, read on a kindle, etc. There are about a million studies that say watching tv is bad for baby/toddler brain development.

Anonymous said...

I'm only 21, so my thoughts can clearly change by the time i have kids, but after being a nanny the last 4 summers and being a babysitter for 10, I love your electronic ideas. They do not need to have any of that when they are so little. Not sure at what age it is "appropriate" to get them one of their own but they have lived this long just playing with toys, they can live another year just playing with toys. :)

Sally said...

When I was growing up in the 90s, kids were just starting to get into electronics as gifts, mainly in the form of Nintendo/Sega and having personal phones, TVs, or computers in their rooms. Despite being from one of the wealthiest families among my friends, my siblings and I were the only ones who didn't have any of those things. When we would bring it up, our parents would tell us that it wasn't about the cost, it was about the fact that these were grown up items and there was no reason for a child to have them. They told us that they did not want us sitting in front of a TV or computer screen all day, so we wouldn't be getting a Nintendo, and as for the personal phones and TV, they firmly believed that a child did not need and should not have privacy on the phone or television. We were allowed to play video games at friends' houses, but in our own home, we had to play outside or play creatively with our toys, finding ways to entertain ourselves. Looking back, I am so grateful that they took this approach. It actually made us closer, because instead of playing video games or constantly being distracted by electronics, we were enjoying and interacting with each other. We also excelled in school and athletics, because we spent a lot of time reading and playing sports with each other in our backyard and at the neighborhood park when we were home. Instead of playing Nintendo, we would go on bike rides, take turns throwing a baseball to each other and hitting it, play tennis, or shoot hoops on our basketball goal. I feel like we made so many fun memories and learned many skills that we would have missed out on if we'd been concentrating on the popular electronics of the time, and I'm glad our parents didn't give in to the trend and our demands and buy them.

Wendy said...

I wish more parents would limit their use of electronics. I volunteer in my girls' 1st grade class (I'm also a child and family portrait photographer) and I can 100% tell which kid gets baby sat with by Minecraft or NetFlix. We don't even have a family computer any more; M&L have crappy little tablets but I don't allow them to use them much at all. They lost the tablets- like, physically couldn't find them because they hadn't been used in so long.

Chantel said...

Our kids have kid focused electronics, so leappads which have reading/learning games (and some "fun" ones). They are just an expensive as a tablet/kindle but have some fun photo apps for the kids, easy parent controls. Claudia will go in spurts where she plays with it for a few days and then goes weeks without even thinking about it. It will be a long while before they have anything else. We did have a Wii (it broke now) and we used to do Just Dance Kids with it. That was fun.