One morning a few months ago, while I snuck upstairs for a quick shower, my three year old did a little sneaking of her own. By the time I came down, she had located my iPad in my office, seated herself on the couch, opened to the Doodle app and turned on the blues station on my Pandora radio without me teaching her how to do any of it.

I long ago removed the Angry Birds game from my phone because I got tired of sharing my phone while we waited for our food in restaurants. I started saying no about videos in the van, and there came a point a couple of weeks later when the kids stopped asking. But the iPad is a different story.

There are some good things on the iPad. She’s learning her letters with Super Why. Through Doodle, she can draw and erase without killing a tree in the process. She’s practicing pitch recognition through the games in Music Learning Lab. And it can be a good way to occupy her if there’s a task I really need to get done. But when she wakes up in the morning asking for the iPad and asks for it every twenty minutes thereafter, I want to open the back door and scoot her out into the fresh air and tell her to think again.

Back in the early 90s, I was the one with the tech addiction. I want to smack myself silly now, but I remember many a glorious summer day when I’d be inside for hours looking for the P-wing or trying to make it through ice world in Super Mario 3 when I should have been out ripping another pair of jeans while hopping over the neighbor lady’s fence. We hadn’t bought the Game Boy yet, so at least I could leave my video game habit behind when the family went out for dinner.

I don’t want my kids to be technologically illiterate, but I do want them to be different than their peers who stare down at devices at home, at restaurants and in the transit between. Dave Ramsey has a saying, “Debt is normal. Be weird.” I think that carries over from the financial arena to the parenting one: Tech obsession is normal. Be weird.

We’ve done some of that. Elliot didn’t watch a single cartoon until he turned two. And while I tried to keep Farah’s baby gaze away from the television when big brother did start to watch Thomas and Curious George, I wonder if the greater familiarity with that kind of media has made it easier for her to fall for the screen.

A few weeks ago at the bookstore, my husband and I saw the perfect gift for our little tech addict’s birthday: her own kiddie tablet pre-loaded with over 80 game apps. I knew if I put a bow on that thing, I’d be her best friend for life. Or would I?

In my office, I have a notecard with a list of four legacies I want for my children. At the top is “enjoying God’s creation more than man-made objects or media.” So, guess what I didn’t get my daughter for her birthday…. Yep. We left the tablet on the shelf at the store.

It’s enough to deal with prying her fingers lose from my electronics. We’d rather her not have her own. Instead, we picked out something halfway between our two sets of preferences…a little Hot Dots electronic pen that coordinates with phonics books and cards. (Now, if any of the grandparents have a tablet wrapped up for her party on Saturday, I guess they’ll be her best friends for life.)

Best of all, on her fourth birthday today, we spent some time at our favorite outdoor history museum and let her get back in touch with a more natural way of life. If that kind of living isn’t normal, I want us to be weird.

lessdigitalHere’s a little Internet break for you. Right now, before you do anything else online….
Find a flower. Smell it. 🙂



{I’m linking up with Nester for her annual 31 Days blog get together. Don’t want to miss this series? Be sure to subscribe by entering your email in the box on the homepage sidebar. Find all posts in the series here.}