Finding our Technological Balance {Carnival of Natural Parenting}

Welcome to the October 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Technology
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their families' policies on screen time.


I knew from the beginning that I didn't want Gwen watching TV until she was older. Numerous studies have show that waiting until after a child turns 2 before introducing television is better for their imagination, concentration, etc. From personal experience, I know that television can be a little... addicting seems too strong a word, but you do get so used to turning on that picture box and zoning out to your favorite characters.

However, on the flip side, I also knew that Gwen was growing up in a technological world, one with gadgets I didn't even dream of as a child. More then ever, you have to be tech savvy, and I wanted her to enjoy that too.

We did hold out until she was 2 before allowing TV time, though we ended up having some computer time before that. Specifically, she loved watching us check our email or do other things online, and she wanted to try the mouse herself. So, I pulled open paint for her. 


Before she was even born, I knew what show I wanted to be Gwen's first. I can't even remember at this point what made us decide she "was ready" or we were ready, but at some point we turned on Sesame Street. She loved it, still does. Since then we've added more shows, but not much more time allowed. Sometimes a 30 hour show in the morning if she is ready early, and a video clip (5 or so minutes) before bed, if there is time. On the weekend she gets a little more, but our goal is always for TV to be a temporary break (a relaxing, snuggly time while waking up in the morning!), and active play to be the vast majority.

Other then television and occasional computer time, Gwen loves taking and looking at pictures on my iPhone. She has picked up on how to use that thing so much quicker then I did! She will occasionally play a game on there, but mostly its all about the pictures and home videos. However, my phone has a password on it, and she will not know it. 

I know that the older she gets, the more Gwen will need and want to use technology. Luckily for her, it seems to come to her naturally, after all she is growing up with it in a way that I didn't. This is also a reason I'm not in a rush to give her too much access to it now. I want to use this time to give her a love of books, the outdoors, and the ability to use her imagination to take her farther then TV or the internet ever could.

Technology can be a powerful tool, helping us accomplish things we never thought possible, and learn about anything our heart desires. But it is also exposing us in ways that we weren't exposed before. A childhood mistake, instead of being lost to playground gossip, can now be etched online, permanently. As Gwen gets older and asks for more access, we will be having a lot of talks about what is or is not appropriate, and there will be plenty of restrictions in place.

As she grows and her capacity to handle such responsibilities grows, so will we let her access to grow. I will be happy, as long as her imagination gets put to more use then her internet connection, and she spends as much time on her feet (preferably outside) instead of in a computer chair. In the meantime, I'm happy to tell her (politely), No more Gwenie.

How do you handle technology in your household?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (list will be updated throughout the day on October 8):
  • Has Technology Taken Away Childhood? — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama worries that technology is intruding on the basic premise of childhood - active play in all forms! Join her as she takes a brief look at how play has changed as technology becomes more integrated into the daily lives of our children.
  • Fostering a Healthy Relationship with Technology — Jenn at Adventures Down Under describes her children's love of screen time and how her family implements their philosophy and policies on technology.
  • Kids Chores for Tech PrivilegesCrunchy Con Mommy shares how tying chore completion to iPad privileges worked in her house to limit screen time and inspire voluntary room cleaning!
  • Screens — Without the benefit of her own experience, sustainablemum explains her family's use of technology in their home.
  • Screen Time - The Battle of Ideologies — Laura from Laura's Blog explains why she is a mom who prioritizes outdoor natural play for her kids but also lets them have ample screen time.
  • The Day My iPhone Died — Revolution Momma at Raising a Revolution questions the role technology plays in her life when she is devastated after losing her phone's picture collection from her daughter's first year.
  • Finding our Technological Balance — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she finds balance between wanting her daughter to enjoy all the amazing technology available to her, without it overwhelming the natural parenting she's striving for.
  • Raising kids who love TV — Lauren at Hobo Mama sometimes fears what children who love screentime will grow up to be … until she realizes they'll be just like her.
  • No Limits on Screen Time? Is that Natural? — Susan at Together Walking shares misconceptions and benefits of having no limits on technology and screen time in their home.
  • Screen Time — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares what is currently working (and what hasn't) regarding screen time in her household.
  • Positive Use of Technology with Kids — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her family's experiences with early technology, shares helpful resources from around the blogosphere, and speculates on what she'd do as a parent with young children today.
  • why i will never quit you, TV — How Emma of Your Fonder Heart came to terms with the fact that screen time is happening, and what balance looks like between real and virtual life for both her toddler AND herself.
  • Technology Speaks — Janet at Our Little Acorn finds many uses for technology - including giving her child a voice.
  • 5 Ways to Extend Children's Screen Time into Creative Learning Opportunities — Looking for a way to balance screen time with other fun learning experiences? Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares 5 fun ways to take your child's love of favorite shows or video games and turn them into creative educational activities.
  • What parents can learn about technology from teachers — Douglas Blane at Friendly Encounters discusses how technology in schools enhances children's learning, and where to find out more.
  • 5 Tips for a Peaceful Home — Megan of the Boho Mama and author at Natural Parents Network shares her favorite 5 tips for creating a peaceful home environment.
  • Technology and Natural Learning — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes about the importance of technology as a tool for natural, self-directed learning.
  • Babies and TechnologyJana Falls shares how her family has coped, changed their use of, relied on, and stopped using various forms of technology since their little man arrived on the scene
  • Kids and Technology — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about the benefits of using technology with her preschooler, and includes a few of their favorite resources.
  • Using Technology to Your Advantage: Helping Children Find Balance — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how technology can be used or abused and gives a few tips to help children learn balance.


  1. This sounds exactly how I did things with Kieran. It's been a little more difficult to maintain that control with Ailia, because she has an older brother who gets to watch TV. It kills me to have my 20month old watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates, sometimes slack-jawed, but more often animated and dancing around. And never does she sit and watch more than a few minutes at a time - thankfully, she isn't drawn to the boob tube. Yet. :)

  2. As Dionna says, I definitely found limits easier when there was only the one child! That said, we do try to prioritize play and one-on-one interaction. But I'm not too fussed about screen time, probably because I love it so much myself. :)

  3. I love how you involve your daughter in all that you do - email, reading, getting outside - and it sound like you love to watch TV with her too. I think that is really important. I also was in the "very limited exposure before 2" with my first (my daughter") - although she did see some TV before then.

    A couple of thoughts I have about it - first as Dionna and Lauren mentioned it is nearly impossible with child #2 ( or 3, 4 etc) to maintain that level of restriction. I do have a friend who pretty much tells her older kids they can only watch when baby sis is sleeping though, so it is possible, I just don't know that many people who do it.

    Also, from what I've seen babies aren't all that interested in the screen for very lengthy periods of time, they seem wired to move! So all of this worry about not exposing them seems a bit over the top. That being said, it seems to me that you've integrated technology in your life in a very easy way.

    This statement, "I will be happy, as long as her imagination gets put to more use then her internet connection, and she spends as much time on her feet (preferably outside) instead of in a computer chair. " is one that I would examine further. First the idea that "I will be happy if..." and placing that on your child. Second - the internet may feed your child's imagination as much or more than anything else. And third, I try really hard not to put my expectations on my child - some people are more actively inclined and others aren't. Encouraging fitness is one thing (by modeling, doing things together etc) but I will never base my happiness or approval of my child on those kind of choices. I know often in our family it may look like a lot of computer chair time one day (or stretch of days or season) and then many, many days out running, playing, climbing etc for days... sometimes to find balance we need to "zoom out".

    I hope this doesn't come across as too harsh and that you feel the love behind my comment. It sounds like you are an amazing mama - and I'm sure your girl is amazing too.

    1. Susan, you misinterpret my use if the word happy in that sentence. In this case, I mean satisfied with the situation. And it's not on her, it's on me as I'm the one setting limits. The internet is a valuable tool, I'm certainly not arguing that. But as you pointed out, every child is different, and Gwen seems to do better at this point with less screen time. She's also quite physically active, so trust my when I say I'm not "pushing her" in that regard.

      This post is so much more about me then about her. It's about knowing how I want to structure screen time, and not falling back on it when I'M feeling lazy. I certainly never base my love, happiness, or acceptance of Gwen on her use of technology! I love and accept her, period. I think if you were a regular reader, you would see that.

    2. So it seems I did offend you, and I'm sorry about that. You're right, I'm not a regular reader, I'm here for the first time because of the blog carnival that we participated in (pretty awesome!) So my comment was purely based on the words I read here.

      I agree with you that our parenting is more about us (I wrote a post with exactly that title!) Which is why I'm so into examining the words we use and how they impact us and our relationships.

      It's obvious from reading our posts (yours and mind that is) that we are coming from different perspectives, which is fine! I guess the point that was in my mind that I didn't state all that clearly (late night commenting!) is that our children grow and change so much - so sometimes things are working and then all of a sudden they (our children) have a very different (sometimes very strong) opinion. And that's when the idea of "limits" puts us in opposition with our kids - because we've decided we know best for them.

      One thing I've learned from blogging and reading tons of blogs is that we are usually more alike than different - sometimes we even think we're saying different things when in fact our practices are very similar! I don't expect everyone to tell me that what I'm doing is great, because I know what I'm doing is not the norm. I'm sorry if you felt I overstepped with my comment.

  4. I'm impressed with your strict limits! I started my oldest off with 1 half hour show per day and it slowly grew from there. She's 15 now and doesn't watch much television, but she could watch videos online all day long if I let her!

  5. I really connect with your message when you wrote: "our goal is always for TV to be a temporary break (a relaxing, snuggly time while waking up in the morning!), and active play to be the vast majority."
    I relate to that ideal because I think it represents the intention behind the screen time limitations. Even though I don't necessarily follow the same time limits or approach, I feel like my methods also come from this perspective.
    There have been days when we wake up too early or struggle with difficult days and I just need to take a moment and put on Elmo. Other days, we don't even think of the television. As long as I know that I'm giving my child meaningful and plentiful opportunities for engaging and active play, I let go of the moments when I click on the TV.

  6. Thanks all for your comments.


Leave me some love!
~ Meegs