The (Digital) Kids Are Alright

I really think you need to suck it up and realize what was normal for US as kids is not normal for OUR kids.

Sure, get fresh air, get exercise, go play outside…but let’s face it, when it comes to ‘play a game’ or ‘read a book’ all of that is now done digitally.

Yup, that means their iPads or their computers or their phones…ONLINE.


I was recently reading a few posts about bloggers limiting screen time, not even allowing their kids any screen time and even some who refuse to allow their children to play any games at all or use any ‘smart’ devices.

Not to start another Mommy war but… are you TRYING to handicap your child? You do realize the world is a very different place than the one we grew up in and certainly WORLDS away from the one our parents grew up in- meaning just about everything is digital these days.

My kids research their homework using their iPads. My kids play with the their friends in virtual worlds like Animal Jam and Club Penguin. My son meets up with his buddies in Destiny and Borderlands. That’s social and educational.

Their projects in school are in minecraft and contain websites with links to their homemade videos. They link to their sources instead of write them down. They dictate their essays and email their teachers.

They know more about cyberbullying than kickball and can rattle off more youtube video makers than actors in Hollywood.

I’m entirely ok with all of this. So is their Dad.

Go on, hate away. But my kids are learning to do all of the things we learned to do, just throw in code and type at a much younger age. Yes, they pilot drones and use google maps to make sure our roof isn’t hiding any wayward frisbees…and yes, they stare at a screen as much as they like. It doesn’t mean they aren’t learning and it doesn’t mean they don’t get any exercise.

It just means times have changed and the book they are reading is stored on their iPad and the homework they are doing requires they watch a video embedded on the Smithsonian website.

Then to relax they put on their headphones and mics and have a virtual playdate with their buddies across town I can’t drive them to anyway because dinner is nearly ready.

So do your kids a favor…lay off the strict rules and timers when it comes to their gaming consoles and phones and tablets and computers. Think of it as your parents forcing you to shut off your radio or your walkman or putting away your TeenBeat or your D&D game. Actually, it’s more like them making you come in from outside instead of creating that imaginary game with the neighborhood kids…because that’s exactly what our kids are doing with their friends, it’s just their imaginary worlds are way more colorful and their costumes are super cool.


  1. It’s an interesting argument. I wonder, though, how far your analogy holds.

    Do you think, for example, parents should make tech-reluctant kids go online because it’s good for them, like our parents used to make us go outside because it was good for us?

    If the absence of or severe limiting of technology “handicaps” children, then where is the minimum baseline?

    Should schools require online time as they require homework? (And if so, what of those children in public school who cannot afford devices? Would the state be required to pay for that gap, in the name of free and appropriate?)

    I don’t have the answers to these, mind. I’m just throwing them out there to see how far your position holds, because like I said I think it’s a really interesting position and definitely forward thinking.

    In the name of disclosure, let me say that my children, ages 12 and 16, are probably average, in that they each spend maybe two hours a day online. My high schooler’s ENTIRE chemistry curriculum outside of class is online and all of his research on college applications, so I definitely think we are moving in that direction.

  2. It’s certainly an issue where the digital divide comes into play. I do think there is a certain amount of making them proficient in the online world is something a parent should strive for- if that means taking them to the library to use their computers or tablets. Or to have schools check them out, like a library system.

    It’s a big reason I refuse to jump on the ‘LAUSD screwed up with iPad, therefor all tech for kids is bad’ bandwagon. I think LAUSD screwed up on the implementation… that is all. I think the idea is essential as a textbook required for kids … these are tools they need to survive and to deny them is to deny a huge part of the advantage they will have in life.

    I think the sheer homework itself (being based somewhat online) will take care of how much time and when….and hopefully the districts and the libraries would fill the gap as to ‘how’ … I know my son also offers his groups to come to our home so technology can be used for those who don’t have it at home, and even with homework assigned with an online component some kids still are not ”allowed’ just on their parent’s principle and he’s turned down.

    I worry those parents are missing the point of the exercise and are hurting, rather than helping their kids.

  3. I think this statement, bolding mine :

    “When it comes to ‘play a game’ or ‘read a book’ ALL of that is now done digitally”

    …is where I feel a disconnect, because I do not think it’s an either/or scenario.

    I would posit that some games and books are online and some are not, and that both types have merit.

    I would posit that it behooves parents to help their children learn how to navigate both the online and the offline world and that children who know how to utilize the internet as a tool to help them in the offline world are at an advantage over those who do not.

    I would posit that many parents see the internet as a tool rather than a destination, and I would argue that that is a valid limited use of the internet, so long as a child is able to socialize via other means, i.e. the limitation is not in place as a method of isolating a child in a detrimental manner.

    But I cannot quite get to this, bolding yours:

    “Are you TRYING to handicap your child?”

    … for parents who limit their children’s access to the internet.

    There are exceptions to every rule, of course, and academic enrichment is one such, but you seem to be arguing it unilaterally, though it’s possible* that I am misunderstanding your position.

    *probable, even. I have a gift, hahaha. 🙂

  4. Lucy,

    Yes, some mediums remain in their original format. Paperbacks and newspapers still exists and students must learn to navigate both words. But as a whole, everything is moving to digital. My son has a new book series he’s reading and that one happened to be in paperback and ebook- he chose paper back while my daughter chose her series in ebook form. The issues I have and the handicap I speak of are the parents who severely limit or even ban digital time, use, or what not because they fear it’s unsafe or all games.

    Just as mentioned above we were forced to go outside and play, I feel there is a certain amount of being forced to use tech in order to now grow up in our ever changing world.

    No absolutes, just fear for the parents who have told their kids NO to everything and only allow 30 min of an educational game while their peers are creating school projects in minecraft. I worry.

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