I’m a Natural Parent But…My Kid is a Technophile

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Welcome to the “I’m a Natural Parent – BUT…” Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. During this carnival our participants have focused on the many different forms and shapes Natural Parenting can take in our community.

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I can usually take a seat at the natural parents’ table without any hesitation.  I love to talk babywearing, I’m all about green living, and I’m totally into hoesteading and natural living.  But when it comes to playtime, I know I’d get kicked out of the cool natural parents club. I feel like I’m supposed to embrace the simple, handmade, wooden toys, lovingly handcrafted, yadda yadda.  Those are cool, sure, but my kid is a technophile.  He loves his electronic toys, and I love that he plays with them.

Let me give you some background:  I was born in 1976, and am a true child of the 1980s.  My favorite toy was the Atari 2600 and I spent countless quarters playing everything from Donkey Kong to Dragon’s Lair in the arcades.  I played pinball since I was old enough to push a chair up to the machine and slap the flipper buttons.  Don’t get me wrong:  I played outside a LOT.  But growing up in Wisconsin, playing outside isn’t always an option.  And when I was stuck indoors, video games and books were my thing.  I also excelled in school, wasn’t a delinquent, and did pretty okay for myself in life (I even spent part of my adult life owning a video arcade), so I don’t think my fondness of the Nintendo was such a bad thing.

Back to the present:  Jack is also a technophile.  He has shown interest in our ubiquitous iPhones, and long ago in a moment of desperation and compromise, we let him play with one at a restaurant (*gasp!* In front of other parents!).  He was intrigued.  He couldn’t manipulate the phone interface but he enjoyed the sounds and the colors.  As he grew a little older we looked for apps that were age-appropriate and educational.  We found a shape-recognition app that he enjoyed, as well as a counting game.  And before long, he knew his shapes, he was counting to ten, fifteen, and then twenty.  And then, well…then came Angry Birds.

The kid loves Angry Birds.  He’s not just randomly poking at it, either.  He’s beating levels, he’s unlocking new levels.  He’s genuinely playing it.

I’m okay with all of this, and while video games aren’t exactly a chapter in the traditional natural parent’s handbook, I think they fit in just fine with our ideals.

All things in moderation.  We would limit his time with electronic toys, if necessary.  They have their place in his life, but I really don’t want them to dominate his life.  We try to be as child-led as we can in his interests, and in this aspect he has made things easy on us because while he loves his Angry Birds, he also loves Play-Doh, books, crayons, playing with cars, building with Duplos, and so much more.  He seems to have embraced moderation on his own, although we’ll continue to monitor that so the games don’t get out of hand.

He is genuinely learning a lot through this medium.  Jack has learned shapes, numbers and letters thanks to some of his apps.  His hand-eye coordination has improved.  Apps require fine motor skills, and I’m often surprised at how well he can manipulate the tiny images on the screen.  His problem solving skills are evident as he has mastered a number of puzzle apps.  The iPhone and iPad are wonderful educational tools and we’ve been glad to embrace them.

He’s having fun.  That’s the bottom line, isn’t it?  And if I have to turn in my Natural Parent card over it, I’m okay with that.

***

I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that “natural parenting” means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 26 with all the carnival links.)

  • My kid is a technophile — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction hasn’t turned in her natural parenting card yet, even though her son prefers electronic toys
  • I’m a Natural Parent, but…I use medicine! — Adrienne at Mommying My Way admits that while she hesitates to do so, sometimes she does give her son some medicine when his symptoms get really bad.
  • I’m Only Half Planning a Natural Birth — Shannon at The Artful Mama discloses how she is planning her semi-natural hospital birth and still dares to call herself a Natural Parent.
  • Why we aren’t rear facing — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about her decision to turn her one-year-old daughter’s carseat around, and how the argument always given for extended rear facing makes her feel.
  • Musings of an Almost Crunchy Momma — Valerie at Momma in Progress re-examines her list of natural parenting litmus tests.
  • Natural Parenting Does Not Equal Perfect Parenting — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits to several not-so-natural parenting and lifestyle practices.
  • 10 Reasons to Revoke My Natural Parent Card — Laura at WaldenMommy: Life Behind the Red Front Door discusses why some of her less-than-crunchy practices are better for her family.
  • I’m a Natural Parent – BUT… MacNCheese is Awesome. — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy reveals her penchant for some far from healthy eating, cheap food recipes.
  • Crunchy on the Inside — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles muses about how the stereotype of a natural parent does not do justice to the very dynamic group that this parenting philosophy attracts.
  • My Reality — Megan from The Other Baby Book confesses a few things about her parenting.
  • I’m Crunchy But… — Christy at Mommy Outnumbered shares confessions on all of her “non” crunchy ways.
  • I’m A Natural Parent, But…it took me awhile — It took Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling awhile before fully understanding and appreciating Natural Parenting.
  • I Am Not a Perfect Natural ParentMomma Jorje shares her dirty little secrets as a mostly natural parent.
  • Crunchy, But Not Crunchier Than Thou — Instead of comparing yourself to others, Dionna at Code Name: Mama encourages you to give yourself permission to be as crunchy as you can for right now.
  • I’m a natural parent but…I love bedtimes — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle would never let her children cry-it-out, but she has a selection of other methods to encourage early bedtimes.
  • I’m a Natural Parent – BUT… — Lani at Boobie Time Blog believes that following the principles of Natural Parenting doesn’t mean you fit a stereotypical mold of societal view.
  • Confessions of a Low Supply Mom — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children confesses her insecurities about being a low supply mom.
  • I’m a natural parent, but. . . — Not eating her placenta is just one of the ways Ashley at Mama Raw falls short at being a natural parent.
  • I’m a Natural Parent But…I have a Few Confessions — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment strives to be a Natural Mama, but wait, she has a few confessions!
  • I’m a Natural Parent BUT — Carrie at LoveNotesMama confesses her gratitude for disposable diapers.
  • Intestinal Dissection — Melissa from White Noise talks about how imperfection can be beautiful when it is buffered with love.
  • How much sugar is too much? — Tat at Mum in Search shares how her no-sugar policy evolved into a balancing act, with the balance point not where she’d like to see it.
  • I’m a Natural Parent, but. . . — Amyables at Toddler In Tow talks about three of her parenting habits that are not super “natural.”
  • Minus Ten Crunchy Points — Joella at Fine and Fair discusses how some of her parenting choices seen as “too crunchy” by those she knows in real life could get her kicked out of the crunchy mom clubs online.
  • The Natural Parent “Model” — Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World talks about her love for not-so-natural cosmetics and beauty products.
  • Nice to meet you. — Eileen at Love & Greens talks about how being a natural mama means something different to her every day.
  • I’m a natural parent…BUT… — Ashley at Daisy Pedals touches on several natural parenting topics; from cloth diapers to cleaning with natural cleaners.
  • I’m a natural parent, but you’d be surprised — Lauren at Hobo Mama confesses to liking diet soda and TV and having lost all her reusable shopping bags.
  • I’m a Natural Parent, but…. I don’t shop local — Luschka at Diary of a First Child confesses one of her greatest ‘natural’ failures – she doesn’t shop local and support her community, despite wishing she could.
  • Who You Callin’ Natural? (a Carnival of Natural Parenting Contribution) — A bit of premise exposition, some tongue-in-cheek filler, and a photographic list of all the ways Embrita Blogging cheats at being natural.
  • Dirty Secrets of a Green & Natural Mama (and Why I’m Not Afraid to Share Them!) — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares her definition of what it means to be a perfect mama as well as a few of her dirty little secrets.
  • Green Mommy Guilt — Jen at Jen and Joey Green talks about how being a perfect Green Mom is overrated.
  • Life Coping Devices — Amy at Anktangle discusses two (“non-AP”) coping strategies her family has used for getting through difficult times with her son: the pacifier and the stroller.
  • We use disposable diapers. There. I said it. — The mama at Our Muddy Boots shares a bed, nurses her 4 year old, is vegetarian, and is committed to homeschooling; but Pampers adorn her child’s bottom. Ugh!
  • Committed to Cloth, but… — Sheila at A Living Family affirms her love of cloth diapering, despite the draw of disposables.
  • Natural Parenting as a Doorway to Deep Truths — Amy from Peace for Parents guest posts at Natural Parents Network and shares how for her “natural parenting” is much less about a definition and much more an avenue to explore truths of life.
  • Chicken No-nos — Jessica at Pace Family Place strives to live naturally but feeds her oldest son some not-so natural things
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30 Comments

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30 Responses to I’m a Natural Parent But…My Kid is a Technophile

  1. Shannon at The Artful Mama

    I definitely agree that there is a time and a place and an app for everything! Little Man also loves the iPhone because it was the only way I made it through pumping and nursing in the beginning. Now that we have an iPad he loves talking to his grandparents which I think is important for him so he knows what they look like. Thank you for sharing – now hand over your card (only kidding).
    Shannon at The Artful Mama recently posted..I’m Only Half Planning a Natural Birth

  2. Terri

    This is so funny Jenn! I remember a quote from one of the ‘Abraham’ talks that said “The kid’s today are born MP3 ready!’ And they are…these technologies are a part of their world and trying to deny it would be just like trying not to use electricity just because my Grandmother didn’t have it when she was growing up. As much as I thought we were going to be an all-natural no TV watching family my 3yo can already negotiate her way around You Tube, I’ve let her play games on PBS kids and she likes to type out her name on word documents! I think you are right on with your comments that the key is moderation and that they are having fun. If Jack invents his first App at aged 5 we’ll be cheering you on!
    Terri recently posted..I’m a natural parent but…I love bedtimes

  3. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

    I need to keep in mind all of the things Kieran is learning through video games – he plays his fair share too, We can sit at the NP But Technophile table in shame together ;)

  4. Christy @ Adventures in Mommyhood

    I am typing this comment on my phone because my 5 yr ok’d is playing games on the computer lol. I wish I could say he was playing some fantastic educational game (which he does sometimes, you have to check out Zoodles, it’s awesome!!) but no, he’s playing some Star Wars game!! All of our kids love our iPhones too. Our youngest, 21 months, can pull up and start playing her games all by herself. The Shape/color/letter recognition one is her favorite and she really knows and can recognize them. I am always amazed.

  5. Shannon

    We were very impatient waiting for Moira to be able to hold a video game controller. My husband works in tech, and we both love video games so I knew from the start that we weren’t going to be able to keep her away from them. Even if we could have, it would have been so hypocritical.
    I’m a firm believer that there is something to be gained for our children through using technology, even if it’s not an “educational game.” Angry Birds teaches physics, Civilization and Age of Empires teach history, a LOT of the games need cooperation. Most game require reading and some, math.
    Shannon recently posted..Why we aren’t rear facing

    • Jenn @ Monkey Butt Junction

      The first Final Fantasy game came out when I was in sixth grade. I played it for a continuous 36 hours, with my mom’s blessing. I think it shaped my love of problem solving, it got me back into reading fantasy fiction, and it even inspired me to start writing again. Even the occasional excess can have good results.

  6. Laura

    Eh, we can sit on the “app playing kids” table together. My 22 month old has mastered Angry Birds. I think he’s even beaten some levels! Even funnier is that he has a “word” for Angry Birds. He tries to make the “bwak” noise they make and now points out birds (on TV and in real life) by saying “BWAK!” Yep, birds don’t say “tweet” or “peep” they say “BWAK!” Cracks me up!
    Laura recently posted..10 Reasons to Revoke My Natural Parent Card

  7. Amy

    Our family has a very similar philosophy about technology and screen time: we enjoy those things, and as long as a) we do them in moderation and b) they’re not causing anyone harm, I say go for it! Daniel knows how to use the iPhone and has several apps he likes to play (mostly drawing and music ones). With a Papa who is a software engineer and a Momma who is a blogger with an online shop, it’s only natural that Daniel would also have some interest in computers and technology. Thanks for writing about this, Jenn!
    Amy recently posted..Life Coping Devices

  8. Jessica Pace

    My son is the same way. I think it is their generation. They are going to be super techno-geeks! :)
    Jessica Pace recently posted..Chicken No-nos

  9. Pingback: Confessions of a Low Supply Mom « living peacefully with children

  10. Pingback: I’m Only Half Planning a Natural Birth | The Artful Mama

  11. Lani @ Boobie Time Blog

    I love this post. Just this am I was looking for apps for my toddler. I think everything in moderation is totally cool!

  12. Wolfmother

    My son also loves his techy stuff and he amazes me with how quickly he learns to manipulate things that even I have trouble with, already at only 20 months. Moderation really is the key and since it is a child-led interest, I do not see much harm either. If anything being able to use technological tools effectively is almost necessary in our culture now because of its widespread use. It just means on my end that I also have to ensure that he is subjected to other forms of stimulation and experiences outside of this realm.
    Wolfmother recently posted..Crunchy on the Inside

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  14. Pingback: I’m a Natural Parent But… | the other baby blog

  15. Melissa Vose

    awesome post! i totally agree. wonderful persopective, and I’m certainly not kicking you out of any NP club! I went to a conference on parenting boys several years ago that warned against being down on video games/tech stuff altogether. many kids, and esp. most boys, are very interested in them and we risk making boys/kids f eel that we are uninterested in them (the child) if we completely devalue them (the electronic toys/games).
    Plus, when they are teenagers I want to be the house my kids and their friends hang out at; without some game systems I’m not sure we would be! Great post!
    Melissa Vose recently posted..Intestinal Dissection

    • Jenn @ Monkey Butt Junction

      Video games are really a social thing now. I hadn’t thought about that approach, but they are a good way for kids to socialize too. Nothing wrong with that!

  16. Pingback: I’m a Natural Parent, But…. I Don’t Shop Local (Much) | Diary of a First Child

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  19. Jennifer W.

    My boys love laying the Lego Wii games, and we love playing them with them. I think my oldest is figuring out my mom’s kindle faster than she is! Technology is a big part of our culture, and I think you are right about it in moderation.
    Jennifer W. recently posted..I’m a Natural Parent – BUT… MacNCheese is Awesome.

  20. Pingback: My Name Is Jennifer and I use Disposable Diapers. » Our Muddy Boots

  21. Kat @ Loving {Almost} Every Moment

    Hahaha! Thanks for sharing this! My kiddos are the same too. They love the ipad and well, I think it’s great!

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  23. Rachel @ Lautaret Bohemiet

    My son is SO the same way. His main thing is sports (something I never expected in a million years) but second to that is the computer and Wii games. He is 19 months old, but he knows how to select Youtube videos to watch (from our favorites list) and start them over, pause them, turn up the volume, and so on. Because of this, he has also learned several shapes, how to count to three, and how to sing the ABC’s (…sort of). His dad is very into video games (I am not) so it makes sense that he would be into it too, and hey, it’s something they enjoy doing together. It is what it is, right?

    Great post! (I can’t imagine anyone kicking you away from the cool parents table). :)

  24. Valerie @ Momma in Progress

    Loved reading this.
    Agent E never touched a computer until she was about 5.5. One day I just thought, maybe I’ll show her a game or two and see if she likes it and what she does with it. She had never typed, never used a mouse pad, never navigated anything. It took maybe 14 seconds of me stammering around saying “see these little arrow keys? and this little part in the middle? you just use your finger to move the . . .” And she was like, okay, mom, I’ve got it, go back to your stuff.
    She is also quasi-obsessed with bonus features on DVDs. Give that girl a remote, and she will play every game, watch every extra, and do all the trivia.
    It’s so much a part of our lives now (technology in general) that it’s impossible to avoid, IMO. (And yes, they still read and play outside, ha! Everything in moderation! LOL.) It’s just one of many things we do. Like TV. They love it, but they also know when they’ve had enough.
    Valerie @ Momma in Progress recently posted..Musings of an Almost Crunchy Momma

  25. Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama

    When I gave birth I swore that my daughter woud NEVER EVER watch t.v., play on the computer, diddle with my phone apps, or get involved in electronic media until she was school age and even then it would be VERY limited. Weeeeeeellllllll – life happens. Kids are just exposed to it. When she is at my mom’s house the t.v. is on. She loves my phone apps. I mean, a little isn’t going to kill them. And sometimes it is the ONLY way to get a minute to go pee alone. :)
    Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama recently posted..Natural Parenting Does Not Equal Perfect Parenting

  26. Lauren @ Hobo Mama

    I love touch screens for little kids! Mikko gets such a kick out of the games on our smartphone (which means he also intuitively thinks our TV and laptops must be touch screens … sigh). When my mom visited, he was all over her iPad, to the point that we have considered buying him his own. {Eek, did I just say that out loud?} So you’re fine by me. I love that it’s helping him with his fine motor coordination, too, and he’s loving that it’s fun.
    Lauren @ Hobo Mama recently posted..Calling for submissions for the March Carnival of Natural Parenting!

  27. Darcel {The Mahogany Way}

    We love our gadgets and noise makers here. Game systems, keyboards, and the kids play with our phones, on the tablet, and computer. Also an 80′s child. So was my husband. They learn so much through many different avenues of play. Go technology!
    Darcel {The Mahogany Way} recently posted..loving….

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