Get Your Kids a Nook

If you have children, I am pretty sure you have struggled with how to balance the mass onslaught of technological noise vying for your child’s attention. Xbox, Nintendo, Playstation, Ipod, Ipad, etc. A recent study found that children between the ages of 8 to 18 spend 53 hours a week on electronic media. Technology is a way of life for the children of this age. It can be an amazing conduit for innovation and imagination, but it can also encourage isolation and social ineptitude.

My wife and I enjoy the modern conveniences technology affords. We have also come to realize the humbling fact that children become who they are primarily through genetics and environment… and we as parents provide both! Sure, it is natural for our children to gravitate towards cool electronic toys like their dad! However, I want to be sure their time is spent wisely and the use of technology is respected as a privilege and not a right. For example, we strive to make TV watching an event for the whole family. The TV simply doesn’t stay on all the time. We don’t need more distraction…trust me.

We enjoy watching shows like Planet Earth on Discovery and my daughter enjoys watching House Hunters with my wife. We try to catch the MU games together and we get a kick out of watching American Idol as a group as well. And, just because we simply can’t get enough of watching our own kids laugh, we will put up with America’s Funniest Home Videos.

What we try to avoid is our kids disappearing into a room with a laptop or Ipod. The computer is in a room out in the open where everyone in the house congregates. My son has a laptop in his room, but it has a kids specific web browser and will not allow him to log in after 9:00 pm. Your computer probably has similar settings. Take a look and you will be surprised how easy it is to set parental controls on most computers.

One of our recent successes in the tech parenting department was getting our 11 and 8 year old a Nook simple touch reader. At $99 bucks it is a steal and most of the books are under 10 bucks. My 11 year old has read over 20 full length books since he received the Nook for his birthday in September. My daughter devours Junie B books by the dozen. Here is the kicker; with the simple touch reader, there are no options other than reading. Sure, there are better E-readers out there like the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, but you will never know if your kid is reading or playing Angry Birds. When our kids have the simple touch reader in hand, we know they are either reading, sleeping, or daydreaming (and we are OK with any of those).

No deep theological discussions here today, just plain ole’ common sense. I know my best days are typically filled with both. Know you are not alone as you struggle to make the right decision for your kids. It is completely reasonable, and is in fact imperative, for you to set boundaries. Our lives as adults are defined by boundaries and we do our kids a disservice if we don’t adequately prepare them in self assessment of how they balance their own time.

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