Guest blogpost by Lanette Moucha. Lanette is the wife of Kurt Moucha (Worship pastor at Parker Hill) and mother to three boys, ages 3, 6, and 9. Lanette shares her experience with how they manage technology in their home.
Anyone who knows the Mouchas is well aware of our family focus on keeping it simple on a very tight budget. That budget focus is the filter through which we view almost every topic, including technology. How do we deal with technology in our family, especially with the little ones? The answer is simple. We don’t have a lot of it and it has to be shared with others in the family. It is also the first thing to be taken away when poor attitudes arise. Owning technology for fun and learning is a luxury, not an entitlement.
When our oldest son, Lincoln, was a toddler, he would play Curious George and Super Why! games on pbskids.org on Kurt’s laptop. We liked those TV shows and knew they focused on math, science, and reading skills. He had to share the laptop and the time allotment had to be time that was convenient for Kurt. The computer didn’t belong to Lincoln and the time spent playing was special for him. When they were old enough, Wyland and Kinley got to play on my desktop, but again, the time was at my discretion and it was a treat for them, not an expectation.
This past Christmas, our family got our first Kindles! I know. I feel like the only family that has never had a tablet of any kind. Lincoln had been playing games on Kurt’s phone and that was getting tiresome. Kurt needed his phone more often and lending it to Lincoln was getting super inconvenient. So, Amazon had a great cyber Monday deal and boom! Lincoln got his own Kindle, Wy and Kinley got one to share, and Mama got one, too! To top it all off, the generous gift of a WiiU also made its way into our home. The boys are learning to create and build with Minecraft and play with their favorite characters from Toy Story. They’re developing all kinds of skills running (or driving) around with Mario and Luigi. They’re learning and they’re having fun.
So, now, with a gaming system and a handful of tablets, how have things changed? Not a whole lot. They still have to ask permission to play. They still have to share and play together. And if arguing and fighting commence, the fun is over. We find that setting a timer for the gaming system works well. Enough time that they all get to play but not so long that they zone out all day. Longer periods of playing usually end up in arguments. Shorter time limits encourage them to be cooperative.
Technology certainly is great for learning and fun. It’s also super helpful if Mama really needs to get something done! Truthfully, we just like balance and good attitudes. Limits that make sense for our family and kids who understand that technology is good and fun but not something they deserve or are entitled to. What is a good time limit? That’s going to differ for every family. Find what works for yours and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.