This week The 4 Moms of 35+ Kids are discussing kids and technology. A recent reader question puts it this way: "At what age do you allow your kids to have electronic devices and how much is too much?"
I have long held the belief that the real, live, dynamic, physical world is the best place to interact, observe, and learn. And I don't know whether you have noticed this or not, but looking down at the palm of your hand and tapping, texting, and scrolling generally prohibits any interaction whatsoever, except for with the device in the palm of your hand.
It always makes me sad to see a family out to eat or at a park on a sunshiny day with everyone looking down at their electronic devices . There is so much to notice and talk about! If you are looking down at a tiny screen, you are missing the whole world going by without you!
We do recognize, though, that technology can be a huge asset, particularly in being able to communicate in an instant. Even though my 17 year old is becoming more independent and spends more time than the other children away from home, I am able to always know where she is and when to expect her home. If she is at work, on an errand, or with friends and needs me for anything, I am only a text away.
But because of the benefits of all the varied forms of technology and the attraction to them, it is easy to lose sight of what a healthy balance is in using electronic devices.
Here are a few guidelines that we have used with our children regarding electronic devices:
- So far, we have not bought any of our 8 children, the oldest of which is 17, a phone. We did buy her an iPod for Christmas when she was 16, and she bought her own iPhone recently.
- The children who have been able to save their own money are allowed to buy their own parent-approved devices. The boy bought his own iPad at age 14, 2 girls have bought their own used iPods, and 1 girl bought her own DS (handheld game).
- No one under 8 has her own electronic device.
- No "screen time" each day until all chores and school work are complete.
- No playing on Mommy's phone while at the park, visiting with friends, or waiting for an appointment.
- Wii play  is only for the "WiikEND".
- No electronic devices at mealtimes.
- No using electronic devices at church.
- When friends are over, we expect our children to entertain them outdoors if weather allows, and with games and conversation otherwise.
- Electronic devices can be confiscated if the attitude of the user is suffering.
What about you? At what age do you allow your children to have electronic devices? What are the guidelines you have set for using those?
Be sure to see what the rest of my 4 Moms team has to say about children using technology.