One of the things I love about home school is how it helps our kids be creative. Our younger two kids like to draw. I was in the office, where our kids have school, and found this picture of “Charly”. Apparently my children have a bunch of friends whom I have never met.
I don’t recall having imaginary friends when I was young so they must get it from my sister. She had a whole imaginary family. I think they lived in the old corn crib on our property. Maybe it wasn’t a family but there were a lot of them.
It’s important for kids to have a creative outlet. But if we let them stare at a screen all day, there is no opportunity for it to come out. Technology is great and fun and fascinating but it should not be consuming our time.
I was listening to a podcast a few months ago and was interested to learn that Steve Jobs didn’t let his kids have iPods and iPads. Though he was part of the Apple juggernaut to create such amazing devices, when it came to parenting, he was intentional to make sure this technology wouldn’t take over their lives.
In a New York Times article, Nick Bilton writes,
“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
I’m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow.
Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.
Since then, I’ve met a number of technology chief executives and venture capitalists who say similar things: they strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights, and allocating ascetic time limits on weekends.
I was perplexed by this parenting style. After all, most parents seem to take the opposite approach, letting their children bathe in the glow of tablets, smartphones and computers, day and night.
Yet these tech C.E.O.’s seem to know something that the rest of us don’t.
Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired and now chief executive of 3D Robotics, a drone maker, has instituted time limits and parental controls on every device in his home. “My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” he said of his five children, 6 to 17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”
While we do allow our kids a fair amount of “screen time” (i.e. time on iPods, DS, computer, watching a DVD) we do try to be aware of how much they get.
Recently my youngest son bought an old pair of boxing gloves at a yard sale. The next evening, my kids were excited to show me a new game they created. I go upstairs to find them playing pickle ball using the gloves as the rackets and couch cushions as the net.
Being the responsible parent I am, of course I squelched their fun…though not before getting a game in with them myself. Fortunately nothing got broken and they were able to continue the fun the next day in the garage.