a hippie's guide to technology ~ part 3

*part 1 is here*
*part 2 is here*

This post is long.  I debated turning into two more posts but decided just to finish it up, so bear with me!

It only took a few days before I checked out facebook on my Kindle and even figured out how to use it to blog.  Not having to get up and go to the computer every time I went online was kind of nice and finding free Kindle books that we wanted was more than nice.  I had to admit to my family that I actually was enjoying having it.  My kids all started to use it too.  They were reading Henty and Dickens and Tom Swift.  We had to take turns passing the thing around.

Christmas was four months later and it became obvious to James and I that we would be getting three Kindles, one for each of the three oldest kids.  Only for books of course.  Only for books.  They loved them and they used them, but a few times I had to remind them to stop looking at apps and games. 

It was about this time that my thinking was being challenged.  One of the main things to consider was something that I had been fighting against so strongly... this is the way the world was going.  Despite all of my desires and hopes for a world {or at least my children's world} focused outside and on the natural, the beautiful, the simple, there was no way to keep the technological influence from them.  Even if my children experienced their entire childhood free from tv, video games and computers, they were still part of a society that embraced and used technology.  Did I really want to handicap them and force them to have to catch up later on in life?

This realization absolutely petrified me.  I didn't want to admit that my ideals were going to fall short and there was nothing I could do about it.  Yes, I could live a screen free life but the rest of the world wasn't going to and I had no idea what roles my children would play in the rest of the world.  I had to finally admit that I was scared.  I was scared and my fear was driving me to selfishness.  And so I started to let go.  Very slowly.

I told the older kids that they could use their Kindles for games and other things if they wanted to.  Josiah asked for Minecraft pocket edition almost immediately.   I searched for sites online that I thought might interest my kids and showed them.  Layla fell in love with Kahn Academy and has taught herself every math they have and is now doing physics.  I showed my littles Starfall and let them play on it.  I bought a few Dr. Panda games on my Kindle for them and they loved it.

At first I would let them take turns and set timers and then tell them to go do something else, something "better."  It caused chaos, tears, a whole lot of boredom.  They didn't want to do the things they once loved because they were always wondering when they were going to get another turn.  Again, I was challenged.  By creating artificial time limits and rules around technology, I was setting these activities up as more exciting than others.  Kind of like when you hold a candy bar in front of a child and say, "you can only have one little bite then eat your veggies. You might get more later."  Um, yeah.  They're not going to want those veggies.  They are going to sit and brood and wait for more candy.

And so again, I began to let go.  I said yes when they asked to use the computer, the Kindle, watch tv.  I let them play or explore or watch until they were done.  I was so scared.  I imagined everything I had instilled in them over the years disappearing.  I had nightmares of a home with no more books, no one playing outside, everyone isolated in front of screens.  I wanted so desperately to pull the plug and say just kidding, we are done with this stuff!  But I held back.  I decided to give it a bit of time, just wait it out for a little while.

 image credit: Jenna Boring

Turns out my fears were completely unfounded.  When my kids realized that these activities were not going to be taken away from them, they didn't covet them as much.  They will sit down and play on the Kindle or the computer for awhile and then they move on to something else.  Josiah is 10.  He played Minecraft on the laptop for two hours one day and then turned it off saying, "That gave me a headache.  I'm not going to use the computer for that long again."  Then he went outside for the rest of the day.

Giving them freedom has helped them to learn their own limitations.  It has helped with their relationships.  My kids are much better at sharing with each other now because they are not trying to hoard time.  Ruth can hand the Kindle over to Hannah happily because she knows she can just have a turn later.  And has it made them hate books?  Stop going outside?  Become isolated?  Actually, the exact opposite.

Watching tv has helped to kindle the love of reading in my twins.  We watched the Harry Potter series and now Hannah is reading them.  We love Frozen and after I told the twins that it was based on a fairy tale they pulled out our Hans Christian Andersen collection and have read The Snow Queen over and over.  The kids are kind of like I am when I spend time on the computer.  After about a half hour I need fresh air.  They use electronics for a bit and then they spend hours running around outside.  They play games together.  They love showing each other things.  The various games have just made their play more creative.  The twins and Josiah love to play "real Minecraft."  They go outside and build shelters, go "hunting," collect eggs.  Their usage of technology has only served to draw them deeper into the things that they love and their relationships with each other.

It has honestly been a beautiful thing and I don't regret it.  I had to get past my fears.  I considered my values; love, peace and freedom.  Realizing that my fear and selfishness did not fully allow for the fruition of those values in my children's life has been life changing.  Candidly?  I could still do without most electronics.  I would be more than happy to live my life on a little farm or in the mountains with books, nature and my family.  Maybe some of my kids will choose to live with minimal technology and maybe they won't.  But the choice needs to be theirs to make.  And I will support them, no matter what they choose.

oh, and?  I finally got my own iPhone.


  1. I really enjoyed this series, and I saw a lot of myself in it, so thank you.
    And I know you'll get this - I have an iPhone but no 3G on it, no internet connection. Just phoning and texting, right!
    It was heartening to be reminded that it is ok to let go in this whole area.

  2. This has been so good Amy! And I wondered at the start if you ended up here. That's where I am now too. I came from a super waldorf, nature background (that's how my childhood was) but I married an only child Gamer. Technology has caused so much friction in our home but I realised it was all me. Trying to impose restrictions not only on the children but on my husband also. It did not work. Now life runs much smoother and lo and behold even though the children can do what they want with the tv/iPod etc... They actually use it very little! Leo much prefers to be outside most of the day and roman would rather get creating at the table! Totally unfounded fears! Xx

  3. Great series of posts Amy! I was wondering how it would all end up :)
    We have a very similar relationship with technology. xx