My Techie Mistake and Its Effect On My Daughter

I feel like I’ve messed up a little bit with my youngest daughter. Born in 2008, she is the truest digital native in our family. She has never known life without Google, smartphones, and apps. 

For the first few years of her life, I loved that I could hand her my phone or tablet to keep her occupied. I mean, how cool was it that she could pop bubble wrap right on the screen or complete a jigsaw puzzle with a few swipes? As a tech lover, I was in awe of all the new ways she could learn.

In hindsight, I wish I had done things differently. And, I suspect that you can relate. As the first generation of parents raising digital natives, we’re still figuring this all out.

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And, due to this experience, I’m not a huge fan of kids young kids using lots of it, especially for home education.

Preview 5 homeschool lessons from Online Unit Studies

I feel like I’ve messed up a little bit with my youngest daughter. I feel like I used too much tech too young with her. Now, as comfortable as I am with tech, I’m not a huge fan of kids five and under using lots of it, especially for home education. Read to find out why.

Here’s why…exposing kids to lots of colorful, flashy and interactive apps when they're young acclimates them to that sort of experience. My daughter considers lots of non-techie learning opportunities “boring” and expects all the bells and whistles. She’s not receptive to watching a non-animated, but still very interesting, documentary to learn about something. She’s not interested in reading books with lots of text because she is used to being more visually stimulated.

I wish I had encouraged more exploration of her physical world, touching, smelling, tasting, hearing and seeing everything around her. Holding crayons and pencils. Pouring real ingredients into a real bowl to make a cake. Dressing up real dolls. This is all foundational for fine and gross motor skills development and for gaining a realistic understanding of reality.

Also, little ones need to experience the people around them. I’ll admit it…I was quick to plug my daughter in so that I could tune her out. Fussing at the store? Give her the phone. Older sisters need help with homeschooling? Put her in front of a show (educational, of course). I now wish I would have been quicker to train my daughter’s character instead of just distracting her so easily.  She expects things to be more “on demand” than her sisters did at her age. She’s not as quick to go through trial and error to figure things out. And it seems harder for this daughter to find things to do when she’s unplugged.

Mind you, I recognize that part of my daughter's attraction to electronic devices is part of her design. She has always demonstrated strong spatial reasoning and math skills. Someday, she'll probably be programming apps or building computer networks. She is  wired to be techie (just like her mom), but I wish I hadn’t been so quick to hand her my smartphone when she was younger.

Keep in mind, my attitude about tech and younger kids isn't based on any scientific research…it's just something that's been weighing on my heart, based on my experience. I want to encourage you to find a balance that works for your family. [Related Post: Why I Stopped Managing My Kids' Screen Time]

 

These thoughts are part of the reason that I’ve designed Online Unit Studies for kids mid-elementary age and up. Some families have asked me if I’ll create any units for younger kids and my answer is “No”. Sure, your younger ones can join in to watch videos and do the hands-on projects, but I encourage you to supplement the digital projects with some non-techie activities for them.

You may think this is counter-intuitive to the fact that unit studies are great for teaching multiple-aged kids. But. remember…. your older kids can work independently with Online Unit Studies. That gives you a chance to connect with the younger ones. All the kids are learning the same things, but you’d just have a few different activities for the younger set.

I’d love to know your thoughts about tech for younger kids. Am I totally off base or have you had a similar experience? Leave a comment and let me know. 

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1 thought on “My Techie Mistake and Its Effect On My Daughter

  1. Be encouraged dear heart. Your daughter is brilliant, and savvy young lady even without experiencing mixing bowls. I can understand wishing you had done it differently. You sound like you’re nostalgic for your baby days. I don’t know how you’d get all that you wish you had done with her unless she were an only child.
    I figure it this way, before we had tech we had t.v. Before t.v. it was toys. Before that…..well, I heard a story about those long nighties they used to put babies in were actually so that moms would take the skirt and hang them over the bedpost so the baby couldn’t wander far, and they’d have some simple toys for distraction. This was so mom could give a hand in the field, or garden, or go milk a cow. Or maybe everyone would like to be able to have bread, and dinner. Kneading bread means the baby needs distraction.
    The bigger the family, less likely everyone will get individual attention. Case in point: Susanna Wesley. She had 21 children. She taught them all the Lord’s Prayer As they learned to talk. The only way she found time to pray was to throw her apron over her head which was a signal for her children to leave her alone. She obviously didn’t feel the need to be staring at them while she prayed.
    And I remember feeling guilty for not having family table dinner when my kids were tiny. I sat them in front of the t.v. in their high chairs. At least we watched shows all together.

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