Boys back

A Letter To My Boys (The Real Reason I Say No To Electronics) – Repost

[box] I originally posted this letter to my boys in January 2014. Within the first 7 days, this post was viewed 70,000 times. I received comments and emails that left me in tears. So many of us share these feelings and this letter gave voice to what you held in your heart. I am reposting today because as we head into summer, it’s easy to slip into patterns of excessive screen time. I want to remind us that our time is short with our children. Let’s make memories. Let’s claim this time. Original post and comments can be found here.  [/box]

[box] Important note before you read – If you plan to skim this, please don’t bother to read it. You will miss the point completely. I do not fear technology. My children have access to devices and technology. I’m not setting them up for failure in society. They know how to use computers, phones, and video games. We give limits and train them to exhibit self-control. I welcome all comments, but if you plan to comment in a negative or nasty way, it will be discarded. Thank you and blessings![/box]

Boys back

Listen to the audio version of this post by clicking here.

Dear Boys,

Do you remember the day we went to the drugstore and the lady said, “Wow, you are the first kids I’ve seen all day with nothing in your hands.” Remember how she marveled at how you didn’t need an electronic device to carry through the store? I know how her words made you feel. I know how it reminded you that you are different because your mom limits your electronic usage. I know it was yet another reminder.

The same reminder you receive when we are out to eat and you notice all the kids playing their phones and iPads instead of talking to their parents. I know it was a reminder of all the sporting events where you feel you are the only kids whose parents are making them cheer on their siblings rather than burying themselves in a phone. I know it was another reminder to you that you feel different in this electronic age we live in.

Well, boys, it’s not you. It’s me. Me being selfish maybe. You see I can’t bear to miss a moment with you. Let me explain.

I want to talk to you when we are out to eat. I want to listen to your questions. I want to have training opportunities. I want to allow space for conversation that can take us deeper. And if you are always distracted with electronics, well… I might miss those moments.

I could give you all the statistics about how damaging it is to your development, your attention span, your ability to learn. While all of those are valid reasons to keep electronics away, that is not my primary reason why I say no to you so much. It’s more than that. Much more. I need you to understand this.

When we are together, I want all of you. The fullness of you. I want to experience you. Truly experience you. And I can’t do that with you when there is an electronic device between us. You see it acts as a barrier. I want to see what brings life to those eyes. I want to watch the wonder and magic dance across your face as you discover the wonders of this world. I want to watch you as you figure things out. I want to watch you process life, develop your thoughts. I want to know you. I want to know your passions. I want to watch you as you discover your God-given talents and gifts. And when you hide behind a screen, I miss out on all of that. And my time with you….well it will be over in the blink of an eye.

I want to guide you into an understanding of life and who you are. Boys, kids today are starved for attention, true connection and relationship. I don’t want you to feel starved. That is why I say no. I know that feeding the desire to play in your device is like giving you candy. It satisfies for a moment but provides no long term nutrition. It does more harm than good.

I don’t want to look back when I’m out of the trenches of child training and regret a second I had with you. I don’t want to merely survive. I want to thrive in this life with you. We are in it together. We are a family.

Yes, when we are waiting at a doctor’s office for an hour, it would be easier to quiet you with my phone. But if I did that, I fear I would send you a message that says I’d rather hush you than hear those precious words falling from your lips.

I can’t bear the thought of allowing you to miss out on the wonders and mysteries of this world. When you are transfixed on a screen, the beauty of this world will be lost to you. In every moment beauty is waiting to be discovered. I don’t want you to miss it.

I want you to be comfortable with yourself. I want you not to feel a constant need to be entertained and distracted. If you stay behind a screen, you never have to experience just being you, alone with your thoughts. I want you to learn to think, to ponder life, to make discoveries, to create. You have been gifted by God in unique ways. I want those to bloom. They can’t bloom in the glow of a screen. They need life, real life, to bring them to light.

I want you to be confident in who you are. I want you to be able to look people in the eyes and speak life into them. If I allow you to live behind a screen, you get little practice relating eye to eye. To truly know someone you have to look into their eyes. It’s a window into their heart. You see what can’t be seen in cyberspace.

When I tell you no to devices, I’m giving you a gift. And I’m giving me a gift. It’s a gift of relationship. True human connection. It’s precious and a treasure. And you mean so much to me that I don’t want to miss a second of it.

I love how God created your mind. I love to hear the way you think and process life. I love to see what makes you laugh. I love to watch those eyes widen when a new discovery is made. And when your head is behind a screen, I miss all of that. And so do you.

In this life we have few cheerleaders. In this family we will cheer each other on. I know it is boring to sit at swim lessons and watch your brother learn to swim. I know it is boring to sit through a 2 hour baseball practice. And in all honesty, it would be easy for me to give you the iPad and keep you quiet and occupied. But we all lose out when we do that. You will miss out on watching your brother’s new accomplishments. You will deprive him of the joy of his moment to shine for you. You will miss out on what it means to encourage each other.

I want you to grow up knowing the world doesn’t revolve around you. (One day your wife will thank me) I want you to learn to give selflessly of yourself….to give away your time, your talents, your treasures. If I distract you with electronics when you should be cheering for your brother, well, I’m simply telling you that your happiness is more important than giving your time to someone other than yourself.

This world needs more selflessness. This world needs more connection. This world needs more love. We can’t learn these behind a screen.

I want to raise sons that know how to look deeply into the eyes of the ones they love. I want my future daughters in law to know what it’s like to have a husband that looks deeply into her eyes because he knows the value of human relationships and the treasure of love. And that is best communicated eye to eye.

I want to watch your face illuminated by the majesty of life – not the glow of a screen. I want all of you. Because I only have you for a short while. When you pack up and leave for college, I want to look back with no regrets over the time I spent with you. I want to look back and remember how your eyes sparkled when we talked. I want to look back and remember how I actually knew those little quirky details of your life because we had time enough to be bored together.

It’s ok to be bored. We can be bored together. And we can discover new things together.

I love you. I love you too much to quiet you with an iPhone or an iPad or a DS. And I can’t even apologize, because I’m really not sorry. I’m doing this so that I won’t be sorry one day.

With all my love,

Mom

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711 replies
  1. Kori S
    Kori S says:

    Renee,

    You’re words are exactly my thoughts when it comes to electronics. Thank you for expressing so beautifully my struggle. We had friends over the other night and they had the iPhone at the dinner table to help their 15 month old eat! My 2 year old shouted “I want to watch Mickey!” and of course I said, “no, it’s time for dinner. Not time for a show.” It’s so hard raising children in this age of electronics, thank you for showing me I am not alone in this fight!

    Kori S.

  2. Keri Campbell
    Keri Campbell says:

    I’m glad see other mommies see things the way I do. My girls are 14 and 7 and while it is harder to keep my 14 yr old off the phone it is not impossible. We have set down rules within our home. No phone use at the dinner table, period. That is family time. When we are together that is just it we are together. No spending the night out every weekend. They are only kids once, cherish the time it will fly!

  3. Rachael
    Rachael says:

    Yes!!! I have 5 girls. Hopefully in 10-20 years they can meet your sons! These are the men I pray my daughters find!

  4. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    I completely agree with you. My 2.5 year old watches no TV and has no “screen time” on a tablet. While it would make my life easier at times, I would rather him learn how to deal with boredom and grow his imagination naturally. Being able to have dinner out with him and not shoving my phone at him to quiet him seems to be an anomaly. I hope I am able to explain why we make these choices as eloquently as you did in your letter to your sons.
    It gives me hope that more parents will choose to take full responsibility for their children instead of taking the easy way.

  5. Christie
    Christie says:

    I am an elementary teacher and have raised 3 boys just as technology was getting started. I can tell you that this young mom is TOTALLY on the right track. Each year I increasingly get the majority of 20 students who don’t know simple manners, can’t get along with others, can’t communicate with others and have NO imagination. When I ask 2nd graders to write about a personal experience, they don’t know what to write about – MANY write about video games or having a play date where they played a particular video game. I do think technology has a great place in our world, but it is quickly becoming a sad epidemic in our young children.

  6. Hattie
    Hattie says:

    Agreed. We can do this. We HAVE to do this. Our kids are lost in this digital haze. Let’s unplug, tuck away, throw away, decide not to purchase, bury, smash, these devices that keep up from hearing and knowing our children. I am with you. No apologies, whether or not my son thanks me later.

  7. Sandi
    Sandi says:

    As a grandmother these words ring true not only in the way we raised our own but now for our children for our precious grandchildren

  8. Renee
    Renee says:

    Christie-Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree, there is a great place for technology, but it is overused and is hurting our children and our families. Blessings!

  9. Renee
    Renee says:

    Melissa- you are not alone. The amount of feedback this post has received is evidence that many of us hold to these thoughts. It is hard, but so worth it to fight for our kids and our families.

  10. Renee
    Renee says:

    Keri-
    I couldn’t agree more. The time will fly by and we can’t reclaim the time. We have to cherish every moment we are given. Blessings to you!

  11. Perry simmons
    Perry simmons says:

    Renee,
    I’ll admit to not being as diligent with my kids. But, yours is a refreshing viewpoint. There is no greater, nor more rewarding, relationship than we have with our children.

    Thanks for the read

  12. Hank Osborne
    Hank Osborne says:

    “Wow Convicting!” The words my wife wrote on a FB post pointing me to this article. Yes, we have become too reliant on electronics to quite our kids in doctors’ offices in particular. We spend a lot of time in doctors’ offices. The screen is an easy way out. Thanks for the encouragement that we needed today to reconsider some of our habits.

  13. Rosie
    Rosie says:

    Renee, my 5 sons are grown and I thank God phones were just that, phones! I got to see and know my kids when they were growing and saw the amazement when discovering little things they never would have seen in this day & age. Discovering there is a wonderful creator. Even ad adults there are family times I wishthe electronics hadn’t been brought out. Fellowship with loved ones is not the same and you are right about everything you said. It would be great if what you wrote could show as an alert to everyone’s phone. Your words may be just what they need to read to understand the big picture!! Thanks for that and God
    bless you. You degfinitly have a gift with words!

  14. Beth
    Beth says:

    I guess I see this issue a bit differently than most commenters. I get that wasting hours upon hours of screen time can be and is harmful, but I think that a good balance is possible here. In some of the scenarios described-like going out for dinner, would you take issue with your young child coloring with the resturaunt-provided crayons while they wait for their food? Or an older child reading a book during a long Dr. appt.? Why is a screen considered worse? Why is it not possible to connect with your kids and bulid relationships by using technology as well? My older son and husband have had an amazing time playing an iPhone game that involves building and maintaining a village together. I’ve sat with my kids and spent lots of time watching the wonder on their faces as they discover live, recorded bird calls on our iPad app that they may not otherwise have gotten to experience, and the books we’ve been able to read on tablets and then discuss have been endless.
    So, I can see your point and your heart behind the post, but I think it’s important not to assume the worst about technology or live in fear that it will destroy our kids minds and our relationships with them as well. My husband grew up locked in his bedroom playing video games in order to drown out the noise of his dysfunctional parents loud arguing and violence, and yet, he is totally capable and very good at looking deeply into my eyes and treasuring me.
    Just another perspective….

  15. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    I agree and disagree. I agree with not letting kids be consumed by technology or to use it as a babysitter but at the same time I would want my children to access to it everyday for at least a short period of time. The truth is, is our world is a tech world and if our kids do not know how to use these skills how will they land a good job or keep up. Even business meetings are thru technology. Also my kids have learned so much thru the internet…. They have learned about all kinds of animals and species, different countries and cultures ect.. maybe it’s just better not to let kids be indulged in video games or cartoons. Also my children are outside a lot too:)

  16. Chris
    Chris says:

    I enjoy the idea of saying “no” to screen time, but I wonder based upon what I read – how do you teach your boys to use technology appropriately when they are not allowed to use it at all? As parents we want to keep them away from things like TV an cell phones (an trust me, I am all for limiting and having boundaries with these things), but the reality is, they will grow up and be functioning members of society that involve TV’s and cell phones. If they have never had any exposure or real exposure to technology before that, what will they do then?

    I understand I am making some gross assumptions but they are based upon what I read in your post. As a parent of two boys, I want screen time to be limited too. But I think it is my responsibility as a parent to help them know how to use it in a healthy way too.

  17. Josephine
    Josephine says:

    I am the mother of 2 boys and must say I feel more like Beth. Technology is and always will be a way of life. You can choice to take that away from your children or you can teach them how to use it to there advantage. My boys are 5 and 20 months. They both know how to use iPads and laptops and other technology. They are limited only to educational programs, learning games and age appropriate reading and music. Both my children are far advanced for their age. My 5 year old reads better than most 2 graders, he knows sign language, basic math and has a vocabulary of a 10 year old. As much as I would like to take credit for teaching him, most of this came from learning apps, videos, and games. I get complements for my children singing the alphabet song in walmart playing on my iphone. It keeps them happy while shopping and often entertaining to the people around us! I still enforce no games at dinner and other times. But I think to say no technology at all is extreme and can limit your child’s learning. Just another mothers opinion.

  18. Josephine
    Josephine says:

    I apologize for the typos, it’s often hard to check my grammar on my phone. Auto correct often thinks it’s smarter than me! 😉

  19. Linda Sikes
    Linda Sikes says:

    I did not purchase these devices for my children either. They were interested each time their friends got a new game system for a while, but were bored quickly. I bought them a dump truck load of dirt to play on instead. I also have a saying ” my favorite tv and radio station is WOFF. they all have one”. I have given this advice to young mothers and have been thanked for it many times. When you pick you children up from school or practice at the end of the day, don’t have the radio playing. You will hear 90% of what is going on in your child’s life in the first 20 minutes (whether you want to or not) if you just let them talk uninterrupted. If you wait until the dinner table and ask “how was your day” you wont get much. My son and daughter were required to play a sport of their choosing and finish the period they signed up for. They were also required to play an instrument. They were not required to be good at any of these, but it turns out that they were. We also said we would match whatever funds they saved to buy their first car and we would pay the first 6 months car insurance, then they were on their own. They became soccer referees at age 13 and saved their money. They both graduated from a prestigious private college, making the dean’s list, became teachers, are married, one with children. and they both married gamers! They still see it as a big waste of time and money. Now I hear myself coming out of their mouths “Go play outside in the fresh air and sunshine” I think the devices are fine if they are set for Kindle and the child is reading the classics, but hours of mindcraft or grand theft auto is neglect.

  20. Renee
    Renee says:

    Perry- Thank you for your comment. I’m not as diligent all the time either. None of us are. We live in a time where it’s harder and harder. But we can make intentional efforts that will lead to rewards. Blessings!

  21. Renee
    Renee says:

    Linda-thank you for your comment. I love your advice about not having the radio on. Now that you mention it, after school is when they are most talkative. And right before they go to bed. Thanks for the advice!

  22. Renee
    Renee says:

    Josephine- thank you for your comment. We do not have a “no electronics rule” in our house. We simply place limits such as not in public so they can practice social skills, learn patience, etc. I agree that withholding it completely would make no sense. Technology is a part of life. I’m not opposed to it, but as a mom of boys that are 10, 8 and 5 I see more bad than good as far as family bonding and interactions. Blessings!

  23. Renee
    Renee says:

    Chris- thank you for commenting. I do not say no to electronics completely. Technology isn’t hard to understand or learn. Look how fast we picked it up 🙂 Our kids are the same. Takes one time and they get it down pat! Our kids have PLENTY of electronics time, so we aren’t doing them a disservice in that area. We place limits and boundaries that protect our time as a family and allow for training that technology can never come close to.
    I agree with you, we have a responsibility as parents to train and model what is appropriate before we release them into the world. Withholding it completely would not be the best road either. Balance and moderation are key. Blessings!

  24. Renee
    Renee says:

    Thank you, Nicole. Yes I’m not suggesting a complete removal of technology at all. Our family uses technology well (example….I write online 🙂 ) For me, I want to guard myself from allowing technology to become a crutch, pacifier, or babysitter. I’m the one that will lose in the end. But my boys are given time daily. We train them in setting limits and using self-control. But we have strict rules about not taking devices into public so they can bury in that away from life and the real world. Blessings!

  25. Renee
    Renee says:

    Hank- thank you for your comment. We all slip into patterns. I do as well. Then I see what I’ve been missing. We scale back and see the best of our kids again. It’s all about limits and moderation. Blessings!

  26. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I agree with Beth – while I would prefer reading or coloring than addictive games on the ipad, and I think more can come out of reading a book and then talking about it for example, I also think making devices so taboo can be limiting. It shouldn’t be all or nothing. You can have a good balance, and technology with limits and used in certain situations can be inspiring, have good teaching moments, and be an opportunity to bond and talk as well.

    I don’t allow my kids to use devices during meals, family time, etc. But I do allow them time with their devices and monitor and suggest certain types of apps and activities and try to do things that incorporate mom/dad, siblings, etc. so it’s just not shutting themselves off. Because of this and talking about the technology and apps that are used instead of just letting them veg out, my 10 year old son became interested in programming. He’s got great (though slightly grand) ideas for the kinds of apps he wants to build and has immersed himself in kid-friendly programming tutorials and books and wants to take classes this summer. That wouldn’t have happened if he was restricted of almost all technology free time. We do need people who can connect with each other, but we also need people who can lead the next generation of technology and be inspired to think of new and innovative solutions to problems in the world.

    Having said that, I greatly appreciate the sentiment and ideals of parents who aren’t just blindly letting their kids watch movies, play incredibly addictive games, and zone out with screens and this was very beautifully written. I just think there’s balance there that’s can expose things just as valuable as the no-devices benefits desired here.

  27. Bill
    Bill says:

    Your point is well made. Nothing can replace parental involvement with children. I, however, rarely see this. What I do see is kids with their faces in a device while the others in the room carry on a conversation. Frequently the parents are doing the same. Social interaction skills are becoming increasingly rarer and rarer. Reading a book in a Dr.’s office is a good way to pass the time. Coloring in a restaurant is a once in a while opportunity. Family time with electronics can be a wonderful shared entertainment time. Staring at a device every time the family gets together, though, is thoughtless, rude and self indulgent. The same goes for those who answer their cell phones while someone is trying to interact with them. There’s a time and a place for everything, but not when it ostracizes those who prefer one’s company over electronics. Kids will develop habits if certain behaviors are left unchecked.

  28. Renee
    Renee says:

    Bill, thank you for your comment. I agree that there are appropriate times for everything. You are right we see more faces buried these days and it is very rude. Thank you for your perspective. Blessings!

  29. Renee
    Renee says:

    Rachel-thank you. Yes, we do not take the taboo stance. That isn’t very practical. A healthy balance with a strong focus on social interaction and family involvement is needed.

  30. jacy
    jacy says:

    Wow! I loved this so much. I am a mom of three young boys who are venturing into the world of electronics and this was such a blessing to me to read…now I have the words to explain why I say no so often!

  31. Jake
    Jake says:

    Read the whole thing! All I can say is… WOW! As a 19 year-old who is well-aware of the impact of electronics in our present society, I couldn’t help but read astonishing letter in my own mother’s voice. She too is a carina, loving woman who supports my sisters in I in whatever she can. She never gives up on us and she never will. I understand that my loving parents and family all want the attention they give me, though after reading this article, this really struck me in a way that I realize that the joys in life are most carried through the experiences you have with your loved ones. Thank you for writing this letter and sharing it with the world. I’m more than positive that many other kids around my age will come across this, also. Thanks again! You’re a brilliant writer and a most fantastic mother. God bless you and your family!

  32. amy
    amy says:

    Amen. As a mom of boys 17, 14, and 10 and a daughter who is 6, I have to wholeheartedly agree. I agree we don’t need to totally keep technology from our kids. But limit. Limit. Limit. I think it is like anything else you might give your kids. If they have everything under the sun given to them by the time they are a few years old, what do they have to look forward to? When the new wears off of things kids go looking for the next new thrill. They don’t learn about earning the right to have or use things. My kids have always been able to sit in a waiting room, sit in church, sit on a plane, on and on. They have always been able to do this quietly and with respect for others because we taught them this without putting a screen in front of all our faces. My kids all have their own devices and use our devices. But they have set times and earn extra time when possible. Mom’s of little ones, you hear it all the time, but I can’t stress enough how fast this all goes. Hearing a book read by a child’s parent does not compare to hearing it on a device. Choosing a color out of a few choices on a coloring app does not compare to picking out of a box of 64. Keeping your kids little as long as possible will pay you big dividends when you don’t have a 12 year old making decisions a 17 year old should be making. Don’t be “normal” when raising your kids. Take pride in being the different family that talks and smiles and laughs. Our country needs different and your kids could make the difference. Think of the joy when your older child gets to figure out how to make an app instead of just play one. And no, they don’t have to be playing apps at two to be able to do that. My 17 year old didn’t play apps at two, we’d never heard of them. But he can write them and play them now. He’s going to an honors camp for computer engineering this summer. He didn’t have his own computer until he was twelve. (still to young imo:)). Playing on a device does not make you a techie, my grandma can play a video game! Knowing how to make it run will though. You learn that by being inquisitive, asking questions, being excited about something. Kids are excited when they remember doing something for the first time. They won’t remember not ever playing a device unless the parent makes that happen. Sometimes as parents you have to do things you don’t want to do. Actually a lot of times! But it will be worth it! Do little kid things when they’re little and big kids things when their big. Devices are big kids things, IMHO 🙂

  33. JoAnna McGarvie
    JoAnna McGarvie says:

    What a lovely re-refreshing post!! I am so happy to read this I have 4 miracle babies ( 9-2 , two boys two girls) And we are Electronic free house here ( as far as games and devices, I have a Lap top, and we have controlled DVD /Movie Time), we treasure every moment we have as a family and its so nice to see that we are not the only ones who do have games and such or that our children are not super glued to electronic devices .

    God Bless you and Yours !
    xoxoxoo

  34. Stacy
    Stacy says:

    Thank you so much. As the mother of two young boys, i strughle with this daily. Thank you for putting my thoughts on paper…

  35. Donna
    Donna says:

    Thank you for putting into words the way I feel about this issue. I don’t have children of my own but do have a niece and nephews and love children in general. (I just became a teacher in a midlife career change.) I just hate to see children or parents glued to screens completely ignoring the other. I recently had dinner in a restaurant and observed two children each with a screen in front of them and two parents. The kids never put the screens down, not even to eat, and the parents never said a word to their children throughout the entire meal. I so wanted to tell these parents what they were missing and what they are doing to their kids. The other thing that drives me crazy is to see a DVD playing a movie in a car and to notice that the license plate is from the same county we’re in. It’s a sad state of affairs if a parent and child can’t occupy themselves and/or have a conversation and enjoy each other’s company within an hour of home. I am going to share this and hope I have many more friends do the same. Thank you and have a great summer!

  36. Jason
    Jason says:

    FANTASTIC article! Thanks so much for sharing! I wish more parents would take this stand in our high-tech, low-touch world.
    Who do I talk to for permission to reblog?

  37. Karen Dean
    Karen Dean says:

    Thank you for the well written letter to your boys. It really opened my eyes to something I did yesterday. While at the mall with my 19 yr old daughter while she was trying on clothes I made a business call that lasted nearly 45 min, the rest of our time at the mall and more time after we got home. Though I was on hold nearly 15 min and was able to talk with her, somewhat distracted and irritated because of the nature of the call. It shortened our time together, and really could have waited till I got back home and worked on it at my desk. I find that as a parent, technology is distracting and takes away precious time from family, friends, and even work. Children especially should be limited to video games, phones, tvs etc and encouraged to interact face to face, play outside, read a book with actual pages you can touch. Thank you for reminding me whats important and to slow down and be in the moment! As now that moment is gone.

  38. Isa
    Isa says:

    Amen to your letter,
    Ralatioship is so precious. I don’t have kids on my own yet, but I can say from my memories: i enjoyed the time really playing outdoors with friends, or playing Community Games like Scrabble instead of console games.
    I wish that some day i can pass this lesson on to my future kids.

    Best regards

  39. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I just sat and read this with my 13 year old son – who is knonw to grumble about the time limits for electronics and tv. By the end we were both crying! When I finished reading I explained to him “See!! This is what aim trying to get through to you! She just says it better!” Thank you so much for reporting this! It is wonderful!

  40. Marcia Martin
    Marcia Martin says:

    It is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes!!!!Thanks for the beautiful words of wisdom!!!

  41. Alicia
    Alicia says:

    It is beautiful! Thank you for sharing this! Here’s a question I ponder. If I am bold to do this (and it is the longing of my heart), when DO I let me electronics-loving son have the computer/iphone? Instead of asking how you limit, I guess I’m asking, how do you decide when you allow it?

  42. Jane Gregis
    Jane Gregis says:

    Wow! There are a lot of families that will be changing how they rear their children…because of your letter to your boys. Really amazing. You have given a gift to everyone that reads this.

  43. Linda
    Linda says:

    This was so well written. I limited time on electronic devices when my kids were young. My oldest is the father of 4 boys. The second oldest is horribly addicted to games and will do whatever it takes to get his hands on them. Funny thing is when he is not allowed access, after the screaming and begging are done, he picks up his Mr. Potato Head and begins to use his amazing imagination! There is so much to be said for using what God provided us with at birth! Thanks… I will be sharing this post!

  44. Matthew
    Matthew says:

    I agree with the first part. I’m an 11 year old boy who has a 8 year old sister and a 10 year old brother. I don’ bring my iPad or DSi (my DSi can’t even read game cartridges anymore). It annoys me when I see other kids on their devises when they’re at stores or restaurants. My friend says my brother is on screens too much, but he stays up until 1;00 in the mornings playing video games.

  45. allie
    allie says:

    its a great reminder to not be the parent on the phone all the time when my kids are trying to talk to me and be with me. Thanks for the reminder.

  46. Renee
    Renee says:

    Hi Matthew,
    Thank you for commenting. Good for you that you have the discipline to leave your device behind when you are out and about. Maybe you can be a strong influence on your brother staying up so late playing video games. Does he do this with your parents’ permission? Blessings, Matthew 🙂

  47. Karen
    Karen says:

    I am so impressed that you have acted thoughtfully and proactively to limit electronics use. As a therapist who treats adolescents, I am getting more and more disturbed about their inability to communicate effectively and form meaningful relationships with others due to the predominance of on-screen vs face-to-face communication. I applaud your approach and respect your lovely wishes for your boys’ social and emotional development. Best of luck!

  48. Renee
    Renee says:

    Yes, Allie. I struggle with this. Daily! I just have a cell phone and no home phone. I’m tempted to get a home line, so I can just put the cell phone away and ignore the landline when it rings 🙂

  49. Renee
    Renee says:

    Linda, thank you for commenting. It is interesting how children protest initially, but find themselves happier in a short amount of time. Thank you for sharing!

  50. Renee
    Renee says:

    Jane, thank you so much for this comment. I have been overwhelmed with the messages I’ve received. To see hearts softened and lives transformed has left me speechless. Blessings!

  51. Renee
    Renee says:

    Alicia, that is a great question! This is solely my personal opinion, and many will disagree. But I don’t believe a child under 14/15 needs an iPhone. And then it needs crazy limits. I’m also a fan of family computers not personal computers in their rooms. Even in college I shared a house with 4 other girls and we had a shared computer. In a family it can be out in the open and shared. My 8 year old has a DS, but he only is allowed to play it on long car rides and even then he has to set a timer to help him manage the time. He is always shocked at how fast 30 minutes goes when in a device. My 10 year old has an iPod touch but he has no interest in it and it never turns on. We have a family Wii and have limits on days/times. I don’t know if there is a “right age”. I think it depends on the child. My children are so different. My 8 year old loves all things electronics and my 10 year old doesn’t care for them. My 5 year old is indifferent right now.

  52. Renee
    Renee says:

    Michelle, this brought tears to my eyes to read this. I’m so moved that this impacted your 13 year old as much as it impacted you. Thank you for sharing with me!

  53. Alexandra
    Alexandra says:

    Love this! My kids (11 yrs and 7 yrs) don’t have electronics or watch any tv (with the exception of a movie once in a blue moon).. It has been the best 5-6 years of our lives!

  54. Renee
    Renee says:

    Karen, I can so relate to you. I can’t tell you how many moments I’ve done the same thing. “hold on, let me respond to this comment.” “Hold on, let me respond to this message.” We feel we must handle everything immediately. But what we should handle is right in front of our faces. I’m challenged by this daily and am in a constant state of reminding. Thank you for sharing this story. I learn by stories. And this picture will stay with me.

  55. Renee
    Renee says:

    Alexandra- Thank you for your comment. We aren’t likely to look back and wish we’d played more video games and watched more movies. We may look back and wish we had spent more time together. I don’t want to look back with regrets. And I don’t feel I’m doing a disservice to my boys. Memories and time together conquer a new level every single time.

  56. Marion
    Marion says:

    This was the best thing I have read in a long time and I’m posting it for my boys…well, they are 21 & 24, so really young men, but always MY boys!

  57. Jenny
    Jenny says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I have been saying these same words to everyone who will listen for a couple years now and unfortunately so many people just scoff and say “it’s the way of the world” my daughter is only 20months but some people think it’s ridiculous that she’s never “seen” a screen. But guess what? She is speaking in sentences, she’s curious, she’s adventurous, she loves books and singing songs. And like you said, I LOVE spending every second watching her learn and grow and helping her explore the world around her. I am a teacher and it breaks my heart to see what screens are doing to our children. Right before I read your letter I posted this on my Facebook wall.

    Today as I was reading with a sweet kindergarten child, I had to ask her this question as part of the assessment I was giving. “would you rather have someone else read to you or would you rather read to someone?” and her response was, “I’d rather read to someone and it would be more mom because she would be so proud! She doesn’t know that I can read.” so I asked her, “why doesn’t your mom know that you can read?” and she said, “because she’s never listened to me read before because she’s too busy on her tablet to read with me”

    My heart broke for this little girl but also for her mom that is missing out on the opportunity to experience her child’s successes. Unfortunately in the world our kids are growing up in, I fear this is the norm.

    I pray more parents like you can spread the word and educate other parents on this topic.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  58. Renee
    Renee says:

    Jenny, this made me cry. Like so many comments,this one made my heart ache. We all lose when screens win. Thank you for sharing.

  59. Cindy Dorman
    Cindy Dorman says:

    What an incredible message to your boys. If they don’t appreciate it now, they certainly will when they are older. I love everything you said. I’m a 62 year old wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend that is battling cancer. I’m cherishing every single moment with each member of my family. I’m also not a fan of electronics being pulled out at events, dinners, sporting events etc. I like you want to see people’s faces and their reactions to what is being said. Bless you for your letter to your boys . I would love to be able to write a letter to my family and friends speaking to them from my heart of what this cancer is doing to me but what all of them mean to me and that I hope that each understand that whatever time I do have left will be a time well spent with each of them. Thank you .

  60. kimberly
    kimberly says:

    Wow. Powerful message. I completely agree with you and I appreciate these words of encouragement, especially as we enter into summer. I definitely limit electronics at my house too, although I am guilty of the iphone out at restaurants..which you are absolutely right about it being the easy way out. Thank you for this post, it is very eye opening!

  61. Pat.
    Pat. says:

    I totally agree with you, We have a 2 year young grandson. If he even sees our cell, he wants to play with it. Many times he will sneak it from me. He can even scroll across it and I ddi not have to teach him this. I like seeing him play outside and I want him to learn about God, nature, this beautiful creation, how things are made and learn love from his grandparents. thanks for this article. I will be sharing it.

  62. Sheryl LoGatto
    Sheryl LoGatto says:

    I am a mother of 4 children, (2 older brothers and 2 younger sisters,) now aged 24 to almost 30. They grew up before the types of electronics you mentioned were available BUT everyone they knew had game systems at home and gameboys in the car….but they did not! My husband and I felt exactly as you described. We enjoyed each other’s company and we played family games and had family discussions. We explored nature and the outdoors together. While traveling we spent time TOGETHER (not isolated with music playing into anyone’s ears via headphones) in the car, talking, playing car games, singing, telling stories, or reading to each other. At home, the kids played together and used their imaginations, indoors and out. They grew up close and loving, and they still are. I tell you honestly, they did not fight, bicker, or argue. And to this day they are close and loving…even though right now they live in different states far away from each other. They are all unique people who have many interests and are well-rounded. I am so thankful that we raised them as we did, and as you say, we have no regrets! Thanks for an insightful article that will hopefully help many families make and important change!

  63. Chaille
    Chaille says:

    I love not only this post, but also your gracious responses to others. Too many blog posts take an all-or-nothing approach to anything (electronics, sugar, etc.). No one can live like that! So thank you for the balance. 🙂 We, too, go through cycles of screen time usage. Right now, I think it’s ME that’s most out of whack (I recently scrolled through the iPad at the dinner table. Yup.)! So I think I’ll start this week by setting a screen-limiting example and see how my boys follow suit. Thanks for the inspiration!

  64. Dana
    Dana says:

    Renee, YOU ARE AWESOME! I agree with you 100%. I have two boys. The oldest is 22, the youngest 9. My oldest had electronics growing up, nothing to the degree that is ever present nowadays, but he was never allowed to just sit and play hours upon hours. He was 13 when he received his first cell phone. My youngest also has electronics. His first electronic was an iPod. He now has a Wii and an iPad. He will not get a cell phone until he is, you got it, 13 years old!
    Both my boys were raised on a farm and have chores to complete and animals to feed and water. I never had to think about my oldest having an electronic shoved in his face as the technology wasn’t there when he was growing up. He was very involved with sports.
    But it’s a whole different ballgame with my youngest. He isn’t allowed to take his iPad outside the home unless we are going to be traveling a great distance. He hardly ever plays his Wii because he would rather be outside playing. He also plays the violin.
    Both my boys know how to interact with people and are capable of carrying on an intelligent conversation.
    I work at an elementary school and you can see a difference in kids that are allowed to be consumed by electronics and those that aren’t. Those that aren’t will look at you, in the eye, when speaking to you and can carry on a conservation.
    Okay, here’s the kicker to all this! I never paid for any of the electronics my boys own. They worked, earned the money and paid for them theirselves.
    I am one proud Momma!
    Keep up the great parenting Renee! Who cares what other people think about how you raise your kids!
    Proverbs 22:6 Proverbs 22:6 KJV
    Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

  65. Heather
    Heather says:

    Wow, how amazing to know their our other mothers that feel the same way I do. My children make it seem like they are going to die without the iPad at the table while we eat or when we are out some where! I try and explain this very thing to my boys all the time. Telling them that they are my precious gifts from God and I selfishly want their time. Time to learn with them and discover new things through their innocent eyes and souls. You are truly inspiration and so was your letter. Thanks for sharing such honesty

  66. Suzy
    Suzy says:

    I agree with you. I also think moms nowadays (I’m guilty of it) spend too much time on their phones and not enjoying their kids- like at parks I often see moms on their phones. You inspired me to use my phone less and have my four kids not use the iPad of phones as much too. Thank you!!

  67. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Thank you for your article. It was very well written and you brought about many wonderful points. I agree and disagree as well. Setting limits on usage, as you have done, is a MUST! Having said that, I will admit to you that I am THAT mom you see in the doctor’s office allowing her seven year old to play on my phone or iPad. What my neighbor in the waiting room doesn’t see, however, are the hours leading up to the appointment, or what took place before we sat down for the meal. That’s when I was at the park with my son, or hiking at a local state park. You might also find me in the back yard swimming laps alongside him, or racing to the other end of the pool. The point I am trying to make is simply this: be very careful not to judge a book by it’s cover. The mom in that waiting room or restaurant seemingly ignoring her child with their nose in an app…she may have spent the five hours prior to that moment in deep conversation with her child.

    That’s my two cents, for what it’s worth. It is OBVIOUS you are an amazing mother and your children are blessed to have you.

  68. Mistie Babin
    Mistie Babin says:

    So very true. I often wonder how the children of this generation are going to turn out.. I see it in teenagers all the time. They listen while typing on Facebook or texting. It’s spreading. Our babies are only little for a short time, lets enjoy them!

  69. Ginny Bowlby
    Ginny Bowlby says:

    Thank you for an awesome, well written letter! As a mother of young adults and a teacher of first graders, I wish every parent would read and take heed!

  70. Erin
    Erin says:

    Thank you for this letter! My 4-year-old has been allowed too much screen time in the past and it hasn’t done him or I any good! But I, too, am guilty of looking at my phone, of disengaging because I’m tired or stressed. I think that in restricting our kids screen time, we need to examine our own as well. Facebook can wait!

  71. Layla
    Layla says:

    This is so beautiful and impactful. After reading all the literature with scientific reasons for limiting screen time, this is what really made me understand why I will not stick my son in front of a tv or iPad. Thank you.

  72. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    As the mom of 3 grown sons, I personally loved this. As a single mom, I was often critized by my own family for letting them be involved in so many sports. That being said, I would do it again. I loved being a mom (still do) but time flies by. God bless you

  73. Bear
    Bear says:

    OH! If there were only more parents, JUST LIKE YOU!! When our nieces and nephews were young, having family gatherings was truly a joy. We would spend the better part of a day interacting with the kids. We listened to what was going on in their lives. We shared stories with each other and best of all laughed with each other. Now that they’ve grown up they can hardly manage to put down their phones. Their thumbs seem to go a million miles an hour as they text each other while in the same room. We did find a few ways to get them to put the phones down and interact. It’s funny, but it’s the same way we got them to engage when they were little. By playing games. It’s pretty obvious it’s something they look forward to, because they always ask, can we play that game we did last time? I pray that each of them will someday realize that they have a much better time in life when they put down the electronics and talk to people face to face.

  74. Christy
    Christy says:

    What a great read to wake up to this morning. This is an area in our lives that we have been adjusting as well. I could say a lot of what’s already been said as a mother of four
    ( 16,13,12 and 6) but I think the greatest thing I can say is thank you. In this busy crazy world it’s nice to have another friend in Christ share truth in love! Let’s bring balance to the lives of more children. Blessings!

  75. ginger
    ginger says:

    I would like to remind people not to be quick to judge when you see people in resteraunts with children on a device. My 9 year old son has high functioning autism and sometimes the only way we can make it through the loud long sensory overwhelming wait for food is to give him some ” downtime” on a device. I do agree with most of your letter and love the sentimate

  76. Emily
    Emily says:

    So true! Thank you! This is exactly what my husband and I feel, but couldn’t have said it any better. We have two boys under the age two and I pray that we don’t miss out on any moments with them 🙂

  77. Emily
    Emily says:

    You are a beautiful visionary. I agree whole heartedly and find my kids enjoy the conversation more than the electronics and often their screens go to sleep as the kids are interacting w others. Parents there is hope, and a beautiful future for our little ones!

  78. Steve
    Steve says:

    Beautiful… Written from a loving individual who understands we are not in this world alone. You are dead-on with your observations. Thanks for the uplifting message and I hope we all put at least a few of these ideas into practice!

  79. Mindy
    Mindy says:

    That was an incredible letter – it is so true, and you have given me so much to think about, for it all will be over in the blink of an eye.

  80. Lesley
    Lesley says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post Renee. I couldn’t agree with you more! We do not by any means ban screens altogether but we very much limit it. Are there times on long roadtrips when it would be easier if he was comatose, fixated on a screen in the back of the seat? Absolutely! But then I’d miss out on the silly song sing alongs, ispy and precious opportunities for uninterrupted conversation. He knows how to entertain himself and has a wonderful imagination. I treasure our mommy/son dinner dates out at restaurants when my husband is working. Are there times we have to take our desserts to go because his attention span has worn out? Sure, but as he gets older that will change. Again, kuddos Renee!

  81. Renee
    Renee says:

    Jake-thank you for your comment. How refreshing to hear feedback from a 19 year old! I only hope my boys would describe me as you describe your parents. Sounds like you are well-rounded and have a good start to your young adult life. Good luck to you. Glad to see you already realize the value of relationships. Blessings!

  82. Edwina
    Edwina says:

    I just chatted with my son about this yesterday. He is still unconvinced, I’m afraid. But that’s okay. I am very close some days to giving more screen time. We had an emergency run to the library to find an old-fashioned method way to fill a summer day. Thanks for your words. Glad we are not alone in our wacky decision to parent our son.

  83. Dana Boyd
    Dana Boyd says:

    Beautifully written. How I have longed for the days I grew up in… before cell phones and satellite tv and computers… those days when we carried a quarter in our pocket in case we needed to call home. Those summer nights when we played outside until dark only to collapse into bed exhausted and happy! I still believe we can have those times in this changing world and I am determined to teach my kids the things you so eloquently wrote about!! Thank you….

  84. Mary
    Mary says:

    Just last night my children were insisting that they were “the only kids in school” without an ipad/iPad mini/iPod etc. do my kids occasionally play on my ipad? Yes, but it’s a very special treat to do so. Each of them has a first generation Kindle that a relative gifted to them. They cannot access the internet on it, only read. We went out to dinner the other night and I was quite taken aback by the blue glow of all of the electronic devices in use (parents and children alike). The other day at my son’s baseball game I noticed one little boy that kept looking at his Mom and sibling, both of their faces buried in an iPhone. I must say, I chuckled to myself when an errant ball hit the mother’s phone. I think we as parents need to do a better job of setting an example with electronics.

  85. Denise
    Denise says:

    I am so impressed by your thoughtful and patient responses to those who did not read your introduction stating that your children do know how to use electronics well. I would be tempted to respond by cutting and pasting an excerpt. You have encouraged me to be more proactive in this area. My youngest, age 8, can go unnoticed and spend time on my phone. My older three were not allowed to do that. I, too, enjoy them all so much. I’ve decided to put my own cell phone away, and have it forward my calls when I am home because if this letter. Thank you.

  86. Carol
    Carol says:

    Thank you for this. Beautifully written and something I need to remember as well (my screen time included) during the summer. I plan to show this to my boys (13 and 11).

  87. Marcia
    Marcia says:

    We have been the exact same way raising our 5 children! We loved our family time (still do) and have taken every opportunity to invest in each others lives and cultivate the importance of relationships! I am so thankful for the way we have lived life as my oldest son at 21 just died in a tragic car accident and we praise God that we don’t live with regret but amazing memories of life together! Our oldest was an amazing connector and loved well others around him! He has left the hand print of God on all that he knew. Everyone who spoke at his memorial talked about how other centered he was and what a cultivator he had been in their relationship and they marveled at that because they said they have had few friends who make that kind of time and investment. Continue to hold to standards that promote, preserve and protect authentic relationships that build a lifetime of memories. Our time together is brief.

  88. Laura Alvin
    Laura Alvin says:

    Dear Renee, Thank you for this. My husband and I lived a lot of our lives internationally, in developing countries, where children still have only their imagination to entertain themselves. We started our lives as parents a bit older than some, but with a real love for the outdoors, the power of imagination, the need to challenge and explore and (yes!) be bored together as a family. It has been a bit of a shock for us to return to the US with our 2 small boys in tow (3 and 5) and see the lack of children outside with dirty feet and cheeky grins. We strive for balance and it helped me a lot today to read your words. My best memories of childhood were born out of ‘boredom’ on a random afternoon with the neighbourhood kids. I can only hope for the same for ours. Best, Laura

  89. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    I’m only 18, but my parents never had smart phones or ipads for us to play on. When we went somewhere and knew we were going to be bored we took books with us. When I got a little older I learned how to solve a rubik’s cube and I carry one with me all time. The funny thing is that when I pull it out of my purse and start to solve it people become interested. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met and talked to just because I had the cube in my hands. I find myself wishing that other young people could experience that as well.

  90. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Thank you for this! My kids are 12 and 13 and I am the “only” parent who restricts time with electronics. They don’t have phones and the time they have on their ipods are very limited. It breaks my heart to hear my 13 year old say that she needs her “phone” (iphone device but not connected to service, basically an ipod on steroids) when she gets together with her friends because otherwise, she’s sitting by herself while they are all texting other people who aren’t there. It makes cringe when my husband gives my 12 year old permission to use his “phone” throughout all three periods of his sister’s hockey games. It is an addiction to them, but it is more than that. I have struggled putting into words why I am so adamant about the limitations on the devices and you pretty much cover it all. Thank you for this encouragement! I am going to print it out and give a copy of it to my hubands and both kids :-)!

  91. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Beautiful Renee. Can we send this message home with every new mother, and share it at every parenting class? Thank you for your wisdom. Much love to you and your boys.

  92. Gail
    Gail says:

    So well written and worth the time to read. Thank you for putting into words what so many mother’s feel. I have small children that I do not allow electronics for mind numbing passage of time. I want them to know what a family is and does for each other. I want them to experience the world around them and not on a screen. I hope one day my girls will be thankful that I cared enough to want to see and hear everything about their lives. They are absolutely the best thing I have ever done and I want to experience it all…the good and the bad! Again thank you for writing this!

  93. Teanna
    Teanna says:

    I have restricted my children mostly because I don’ t feel they NEED to be entertained all the time. I, like you, have three boys. God designed them to have adventure, be wild, courageous, warriors…not to stare at a screen. Thank you for this letter, it gave a whole new clarity to me on WHY I do the same thing with my boys! Bless you!

  94. Ray
    Ray says:

    It is sad to see a stance of zero taken with kids and the number of people who support this type of thinking. An absolute zero will result in rebellion!

    While you feel you are doing something good for them, you are really restricting them on needed skills for their future. Too often I see adults locked out of job advancement because they have their learned limitations because they refuse to adapt to electronics. I have five boys, who are in various stages of life. I have encouraged them to learn electronic devices, and it is difficult to communicate at times when I refused to adapt to their communication styles. But today’s world is evolving so fast, it is so much easier to get caught in social and economical disadvantages because of the electronic knowledge gap.

    Rather than an absolute zero, there should be fun things done together to embrace the technology. Do things like computer classes, internet classes, even do some virtual reality and gaming together. I have taken cross country trips with my kids where I cycled the amount of time they could play on their various electronic devices as video games, and we would have times of no electronics, camp fires, swimming in the ocean, looking out the window enjoying miles of scenery and other things together.

    So, what is going to happen when your kids have to carry an electronic devices because their college no longer teaches from printed books? Or assignments require email conversations to complete the work? Will you be happy when they are put in remedial classes because of their lack of knowledge of using an electronic device? Today’s youth are bored from memorizing what is written on a chalk board… But wait, many classrooms don’t use chalk, they use power point presentations.

    Moderation should be practiced and forcing your kids to your way of thinking will hurt them in the long run.

  95. Leigha
    Leigha says:

    Amazing letter!! Our son is only 4 months old. We already argue over who gets to hold him first in the morning and last at night. It’s so easy even for parents to be so enthralled in technology that they miss something so special. We plan to continue being selfish parents and we are proud of it. Do we know we will probably have a 10 year old that whines because he isn’t the best at a certain level of a game? Yes, but when he is 30 years old and in his own home he can play whatever games he wants for however long he wants. Until then I plan to use my short time being a selfish mom and his father being a selfish father. Loved your words of wisdom!! Thanks for sharing!!

  96. Frank Gilbert
    Frank Gilbert says:

    Great common sense and honesty. Would apply to young and old. Many are “addicted” to the electronic devices and forget the world and their love ones around them. Thanks for the eye opening letter.

  97. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    My boys are 16, 14, and 12. We have lived our lives in this way and I have thoroughly enjoyed and am still enjoying those guys! Keep up the hard work, it really does pay off. My kids have a balanced use of electronics and still stop and look at a person in the eye and speak in complete sentences!

  98. Lee Ann
    Lee Ann says:

    This was beautiful, and says so much of what I have discovered. For the first year or so I was with my boyfriend and his 6 year old daughter, there was no internet. We didn’t have TV or the computer or any other electronics. We spent time together, we enjoyed each others company. Looking back on that time, I truly believe we were all three happier then. We played together, we talked to each other….now we are all too busy (yes, me included) with our electronic of choice. I find it quite funny that I never heard my boyfriend’s daughter complain of being bored back then, yet now she has the computer, TV, 3DS, PS3, IPOD and all I hear out of her is how bored she is. I would like to get away from the electronics, but I am always met with opposition when I suggest it.

  99. Lindsey
    Lindsey says:

    THANK YOU FOR SPEAKING FOR THE RIGHT THING vs what’s popular or easy. While we need technology, it’s the death to education and social skills. Too often we do what’s convenient and not what is right by our children, and I am guilty too. If anyone is negative toward these thoughts, they need to re-evaluate their own lives as they cannot justify the benefits of playing non-stop computer games. They will try, but it simply isn’t the okay. The rise in lack of attention/retention is proven to be linked to computers/games, high school students are not respectful to teachers by being on phones in class & believe they do not need to retain knowledge since they can “just Google it”, and it’s okay to sit a listen to adult conversation or be bored! 🙂 We need more limits for our children, more patience, and less distractions. Life will not always entertain you, you must develop and entertain yourself. I love your article and your words of truth and encouragement for us mommies who see reality! THANK YOU!

  100. Karen G.
    Karen G. says:

    Right on, mama. I’m with you 100%, though I hadn’t yet put it into such profound sentences. Besides, kids who have felt “different” at one point or another end up more empathetic, I believe. Thank you for being a strong mom in a tough world.

  101. M Johnson
    M Johnson says:

    Excellent! My kids thought they were deprived because we did not put tvs in their rooms or give them cell phones or video game consuls in their rooms- but I also think this applies to couples when I see them in restaurants each using their phones instead of relating to one another at all – so sad.

  102. Pamela Leding
    Pamela Leding says:

    Hi Renee,

    Thank you for your excellent article! I was wondering whether there could be a balance. Could the Internet be used for good….such as your blog? I remember my dad not letting us eat sugar and we proceeded to buy it and hide it from him….of course we weren’t believers. Anyway, just some thoughts. Do you have any thoughts on this? Again, thank you for your encouraging article and wonderful insight.

    Blessings,
    Pam

  103. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    Thank you!! I too limit my children’s time but I was doing it so their little brains would grow. Not only does this letter show me more reasons but helps me grow as a mother. It will finally be a good reason to tell me children why I’m doing what I’m doing. Thank you

  104. Dean
    Dean says:

    As a father of 3 sons as well (and three daughters) whose ages span 20 yrs, I have had a first-hand experience with the encroachment of technology into our lives. Now, with the youngest (7), I am following a similar pattern as yourself. When we are out to eat, we talk or make up games we can play at the table (at our Pizza Hut, they have a checkerboard pattern on the tables, and we use sweetener packets to play checkers 🙂

    Like you, I do not want to miss out on those moments and the memories they create.

    BTW, I noticed a lot of commenters were assuming that you didn’t allow any access to electronics at all, which you clearly state in your introduction is not the case. Maybe adding the word “Sometimes” to your title would help avoid the confusion. 🙂

  105. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    My son and I just had this talk of why he can’t have electronics and that all his friends had them why can’t he. I said cause I am not everyother kids mom but I am yours and you don’t have to have them all the time. Your story is amazing and just what I needed to here and help me with the situation. Thank you so much!

  106. Kelli
    Kelli says:

    This is right on point and exactly how things work in my house. My boys are 8 and almost 13. I tell my boys that when we go out to dinner, it is a time to practice our table manners and enjoy each other’s company. They often receive little games in Easter baskets and Christmas stockings that are perfect to take on the road and into a restaurant. A couple examples include Chat Pack and another is Family Talk. They are both little card sets of questions to pose to the family and everyone’s different answers create fun, family conversations that usually result in laughter. We do allow electronics for down time and learning activities. But their screen time is also treated as a privilege that is often earned, especially with our 8-year-old. Our older son has a phone because of his school activities, and we are blessed that he does not abuse it. We believe in balance when it comes to electronics. Thank you for putting valuable words to this important topic that is so often ignored for an easier parenting path.

  107. Renee
    Renee says:

    Dean, thank you for your comment. The moments are too fleeting to miss out on. Thank you for sharing with us here. Yes, many commenters are missing my introduction it seems 🙂 A title change might just be in order!

  108. Renee
    Renee says:

    Pam, thank you for commenting. I definitely think there is good in technology within limits. We have rules for weekend only usage. In summer we do allow some during the week but it comes in the late afternoon. We use time limits of 30 minutes once a day. In the summer, if it’s a rainy day for example, we may do 2 30 minute sessions. Total withholding isn’t always the answer. It might be for some families, but what works for us is limiting and training them in time management.

  109. Renee
    Renee says:

    Thank you, Rebecca. This is refreshing to hear since you are a few years ahead. I hope for the same thing with my boys!

  110. Renee
    Renee says:

    Thank you, Leigha. Enjoy that baby! I remember when my 10 year old was 5 months old and fell asleep on me for the last time. We sat in a swing and he just fell peacefully asleep. I thought, “This could be the last time in his life this happens.” I soaked in that moment. It never happened again. Granted, we’ve had lots of hugs and snuggles. But each moment is precious in its own right. I want to taste them all!

  111. Renee
    Renee says:

    Ray, if you read the introduction, you would see I don’t take a zero tolerance position. We practice moderation in our home and train in time management. I never suggested abstinence from electronics. Balance is key. But we all are prone to slipping into unhealthy patterns and need reminding at time. I’m speaking to myself as much as anyone. Relationship is precious and needs live fostering.

  112. Jason Monaghan
    Jason Monaghan says:

    My wife sent this to me and this is just as big of a message to the parents, me included, that when we are buried in technology we are letting are kids know that whatever is in front of me is more important than them. Thank you for the reminder and encouragement.

  113. Sue N.
    Sue N. says:

    In an instant the “safe” sites your young ones are looking at on their IPads turn to pornography as they go into their teen years. Please parents, do not give up the due diligence of being absolutely sure you know what your children are watching/playing/searching, etc. As a 13 yo, our son had a friend forward him a YouTube video link with the message, “This is GROSS!” What 13 yo boy wouldn’t open it up? What was gross was a couple “having sex” in a parody of a skittles commercial. THAT quick! THAT fast! Our 16 yo is into trucks and truck components. As he was on a site for mufflers and such, on the side bar were links to “pretty girls in your area”. Simply sliding his cursor over to that panel and THAT quick! THAT fast! pops up inappropriate photos. Playing games is the least of our problems today.

  114. Marrilou
    Marrilou says:

    Renee, I understand your point and agree with you 100%! However, what concerns me the most is the tremendous amounts of garbage our kids have access to trough electronic devices; and we don’t even know it! Do you know that the percentage of children, both boys and girls middle school age addicted to pornography is 78% as of April 2012? Do you know that most parents believe their children are in bed sleeping at night, when in fact they are in bed watching pornography and sharing pictures with their friends through instagram and who knows what other social media? Once you give a child an electronic device you are handing him/her over to the rulers of darkness of this world! Instead we must teach our children to “put on the whole armour of God, that they may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Eph. 6:11-12

  115. Renee
    Renee says:

    Marrilou- this is an excellent point. This letter didn’t go there since it was based on a different topic and from a different perspective. But you are very right. My son was exposed to pornography while watching a youtube video at a friends house. We don’t allow access to the computer at home unattended. But he was at a friends house and they looked up Super Mario and ended up at porn. It’s ridiculous how our children are being targeted. Very scary. Thank you for this insight. Blessings!

  116. Renee
    Renee says:

    This is a fantastic point, Sue. The access our children have is scary and they are targets. The pornography addiction is unbelievable and most of us parents are clueless that our kids are entrapped. You are right, playing games is the least of our worries.

  117. Lynn Clippinger
    Lynn Clippinger says:

    Great letter to your boys and as with many things, they will thank you one day for this! Thanks for the courage to write it and post it and for giving others the courage to do the same. I will be limiting my children’s screen time this summer and making the most of the opportunity given me with them! Thank you & God bless!!

  118. petra
    petra says:

    Oh my gosh love this! that’s our belief in our home. Its sad because kids think without the technology gadgets they can’t function. I recently took my daughter to dinner after her 6 grade formal it was my daughter and a friend my husband and me. We were having a great time but I noticed the people behind my daughter, I believe father and daughter they were stuck on there cell phones the whole time the only time they put the phones down were to eat,that was time lost from each other I was so saddened by it. I love listening to all the things my kiddos have to say also love there ?’s. well god bless. I am going to have my teens read this.

  119. Martha
    Martha says:

    This is good advice to grown children also. When visiting in the home or restaurant it is sad when adult children and Grandchildren are texting, etc when Grandmother loves to visit with them.

  120. Paulo
    Paulo says:

    Renee,

    Your are so right. This is true also for grandparents, with your permission I will read this letter to my precious granddaughter over time, she is only seven months old now.
    Thank you and God bless you and your family.

    Paulo

  121. seema
    seema says:

    Can’t agree more!! Iam a fulltime physician and have 2 boys ages 4 and 8yrs. you are absolutely right saying that electronics is the easy way out. We both parents try our best to limit the TV time and even when they watch it is always something educational.

    I so hope that all the parents start telling their kids this , hopefully kids will have no peer pressure about all these fancy gadgets and video games.
    I still remember the day when I bought the Wii because my son was crying, his friends donot want to come to our house for playdaye because we don’t have the wii or X box. that was the day I caved in and Iam sure a lot of us do that just to make our kids happy, under peer pressure or just opting a easy way out.
    seema

  122. Cole
    Cole says:

    I work with children that have special needs, many of which have sensory processing disorder. SPD can be very difficult to cope with. I think the way you described your children was beautiful. The parent with a child who has special needs will describe their child no less beautiful but different in the way they process their environment and accept the love and attention that you described investing into your own children. I have three children, none of which have special needs. One that is “very active”, “all boy” if you will. However, having worked with children that have special needs and talking with their caregivers, I can see through their eyes what they go through on a daily basis. Things that we “typical” families take for granted. Like, sitting at a restaurant without a knot in your stomach because you are dealing with your child’s 8th meltdown of the day. Like, attending a family get together without hearing, “Boy he really likes his tablet doesn’t he :)”. And my favorite, “If you would just discipline him he would not…….”. I appreciate your thoughts and time to share the love you have for your kids. But, it just may be that the family sitting next to you with children who are on their devices are getting the first real chance to sit in some peace and quiet. We can’t assume that a child that we only see for a moment on their device, is always on their device. No more than If I observe you sitting with yours and assume that your family does not own one. Just another side of the coin !!!

  123. Renee
    Renee says:

    Cole, thank you for your insight and the kind way you shared your opinion. You are absolutely right that we should not judge parents or children because their situation could be atypical (besides the fact we shouldn’t be in a state of judgement anyway). I received many very nasty comments from this perspective that I disallowed simply because of the way they attacked me personally. So I’m glad you shared this viewpoint in a positive way that we can all learn from. 🙂 And I am glad you were able to realize that since my children do not have special needs that require the use of electronics for therapy or other reasons, the scope of this letter did not address that. Thank you for realizing that my heart in this post was for the “typical” family like myself. I cannot speak to a road I have not traveled. Nor would I try. Blessings!

  124. Jackie
    Jackie says:

    It amazes me that so many people seem to think that you are advocating “no” electronic use in your home. Apparently they did not read your letter in it’s entirety. I agree with you whole heartedly, and also fear the consequences of so much contact with the radio frequency of these devices. This can only have negative effects on our children being subjected to it at such an early age.
    Jackie

  125. Renee
    Renee says:

    Thank you, Jackie, for your comment. Yes, I’m a bit confused how some are interpreting the message. I can only think they are commenting from the title without reading.

  126. Jan
    Jan says:

    I do not envy parents in this era – raising kids just 15 years ago was less electronic. I’m glad i didn’t have to face this; I may have taken the easy route. As it was they were stuck talking to me at meals – didn’t know how lucky i was to know my kids while I raised them. Good conversation for current and new parents!

  127. Kiki Bacaro
    Kiki Bacaro says:

    Did anybody read this post. Her kids are VERY tech savvy. The restrictions are for times when kids should be conversing with their parents, siblings and other humans. And even when they would be bored. Boredom is a great time of learning patience, self control and self soothing and entertainment. When I look back on my childhood, my friends and I knew how to sit still in church, doctors offices, restaurants and visiting my parents friends. I learned much by sitting next to my parents and people we were visiting and just quietly listening. I recently contacted a distant family member to tell her that I nursed my kids for a long time and my only example of nursing in my entire life was seeing her nursing her toddler in my living room when she came for a family reunion and I never forgot that and the conversation that ensued. Anyway, this is a great post and I am impressed with the balance that you have found with your boys.

  128. Karen
    Karen says:

    Dear Renee, Sigh!! Parenting in 2014 is a challenge. As the mom of 4 sweet children, 3 girls and 1 boy, I am faced DAILY with the upstream battle of being a different kind of mom. We have never had video games in our home. We do not allow cell phones until that child is in an extra curricular that requires contact with us. We do not allow cell phones in their bedrooms once they have them. We have boundaries on the usage of their phones.
    We love our kids but more, we LIKE them. We only get to share life this close for a small period of time. We want to train them to be reality focused. We want to train them how to handle real world situations! We want to spend time with them, grabbing their thoughts, dreams, desires and passions.
    It is a challenge. But it is a challenge my husband and I gladly take on and face together. How can we not?
    Thank you for so eloquently putting my thoughts and heart into words! I will be copying the letter and passing it out at dinner tonight! <3
    Blessings to you!

  129. Carley
    Carley says:

    Life changing. I don’t have children yet but I plan on it one day. But my philosophy in life is that time is fleeting and we are not guaranteed another day.

  130. Susan Wood
    Susan Wood says:

    I love this!!! We have three children. 18, 12 & 18 months. I have considered having a device collection basket in the van. Automatic collection. The baby already loves his “shows”. I love seeing him smile and play and discover. 🙂 thank you. Needed this reminder. 🙂

  131. Deb
    Deb says:

    I’ve often wondered why parents DON’T have restrictions on electronic use. We aren’t quite as tight but I think we’re doing a great job and our daughter is growing into an amazing young woman. She’ll turn 15 this summer. We don’t allow any electronics on the second floor. So when she’s upstairs reading, or doing homework, or going to bed, she DOES NOT have her phone (or computer, or ipad, or ipod). It’s been the rule since the beginning so she’s never complained. When we go out to eat, her phone is not allowed to go into the restaurant. She’s doing an amazing job in school and loves to play sports. Because she can do without her phone during these periods, I feel fairly confident she can resist it when she starts to drive. The rest of the teenagers scare the crap out of me because if they can’t put their phone down now, they won’t be able to when they’re driving. Infuriates me.

  132. Tiffany W.
    Tiffany W. says:

    I’ll tell you. Everyone thinks I was crazy to not allow our daughter (now 11) to use a computer until she was in 1st grade and doing so again with our son (3). If nothing else I want them to just be kids. Play outside, play inside, make up games, get creative, etc. I will admit that with our daughter now we allow too much screen time but are working on a reward system with a max amount of time per day. If she goes above and beyond, minds her manners (this is a tough one right now), etc., she earns x amount of time on the iPad/computer. In return, if she doesn’t doe the things that are required of her (chores, help when asked, etc) she will lose x amount of time that she’s already earned for the day. We feel that this will reduce her sense of entitlement that currently exists with the electronics as well as just improve her as a whole being. Plus, heck, it helps keep us sane at the same time 🙂

    I applaud you for what you do and the letter was truly touching and beautiful.

  133. Donna Boboch
    Donna Boboch says:

    This is the best article ever written and expressed, with all her heart and soul, by a mother to her children. The best heartfelt advice and most timely, for our still growing non-stop Electronic Age.
    It could not have been expressed more honestly and more effectively. Therefore, I thank you, remarkably loving and insightful mother–I will share it and reshare it, with all within my circle of influence. It needed to be said, just so, and now. And thank you my great niece, Helena McMann, (another awesome mother of two boys and a daughter!!!) for sharing this with us, from warm and loving Canada!

  134. Sarah Ramsey
    Sarah Ramsey says:

    This is AWESOME!!!!!! I have a almost the year old son, Logan, who loves his Leap Pad 2 and my Samsung Tablet. We’ve let him use it because it had been really educational for him, but here lately he wants it when we’re going to eat it we’re doing something as a family. This really resonated with me. Thank you. We lost a son at birth last June so, I think I’ve been more apt to letting him use it more. I’m currently for months pregnant with another boy and I don’t want to miss anything with them. THANK YOU!!!,

  135. Sarah Ramsey
    Sarah Ramsey says:

    This is AWESOME!!!!!! I have an almost three year old son, Logan, who loves his Leap Pad 2 and my Samsung Tablet. We’ve let him use it because it had been really educational for him, but here lately he wants it when we’re going to eat it we’re doing something as a family. This really resonated with me. Thank you. We lost a son at birth last June so, I think I’ve been more apt to letting him use it more. I’m currently for months pregnant with another boy and I don’t want to miss anything with them. THANK YOU!!!,

  136. Susan Turney
    Susan Turney says:

    Renee
    I am so happy that there are moms like you out there. I have taught for 32 years and I witness almost daily the disintegration of communication skills and creativity.

  137. N J Mac
    N J Mac says:

    I enjoyed your words so much – you’re giving your boys a wonderful gift and they will appreciate it. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for reminding people how important human communication is and how VITALLY important our families are.

  138. Jeani
    Jeani says:

    Guilty! Thank you for sharing your story and really making me realize the damage I’m doing! Our children are precious gifts and I don’t want to miss a second! THANK YOU!

  139. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    Beautifully put. So glad to know there are other parents who feel connections trump electronics. My kids have not noticed it as much yet as they are 5 and 3 but they do ask me to get a smart phone so they can play on them like they see their cousins do. I hope more people take this stance to help all people connect better in the “real” world.

  140. Misty
    Misty says:

    What I love most about this article is that you are not in any way attacking the parents of other children and their choices. You have simply explained your own choices for your family. So often today we end up attacking one another for making a different decision than we would have made….from breastfeeding to parenting style and on and on. For whatever reason, so many people take it personally if you make a different decision than they have – like it is some sort of personal attack on their own choices. I appreciate how you have spoken with love to your own children and explained your choices for them.

  141. Julia Cortez
    Julia Cortez says:

    I am a 72 yo grandmother/great-granmother. when my kids were young we didn’t have those distractions so they had to do exactly what you want your sons to do. But unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the grandkids! Their parents are missing out so much in their childrens lives!! I love what your are doing!!

  142. angie
    angie says:

    Renee,
    As a small business owner without kids, I can assure you that you are also ensuring you’re children have the skills truly needed in business. Everyone knows how to use technology, but few know how to interact with people. Your boys will have a huge advantage in job opportunities with their abilities to interact relationally with others.

    As a side , two of my friends who don’t know each other shared this with me. Great job getting these thoughts out there. God bless you.

  143. Casey
    Casey says:

    Excellent! So well written! Thank you for saying what’s been in my heart but hadn’t been able to articulate yet!

  144. Laura
    Laura says:

    As a homeschooling mother of 3 I greatly appreciate the sentiment expressed here. Your heart towards your children is beautiful! I think the reason you have gotten several comments about “balance” and ended up feeling the need to qualify this repeat post with some explanations about not fearing technology- is that it does come across a bit black and white or all-or-nothing. However each family needs to do what works for them, both practically and philosophically. We use a system with “tickets” for media time, and once the allotment for the day is gone then it’s gone! (no saving up tickets for the next day either) This works wonderfully especially for my oldest. (mine are 8, 5, and 2 and one on the way 🙂 ) He budgets his time and decides what he would rather spend it on. He just got into Minecraft and saves a ticket for the end of the day so he can play it with his Dad, great bonding time for them. There are days when it’s tempting to give them more tv/games…especially being a homeschooler and having them all home all day! But this is all the more reason why I need to be careful, it could easily become a habit that gets out of control.
    I am not against using it in public places, it can be useful and honestly- if they are already limited in the amount of time they spend on media then I don’t believe there isn’t any harm in using it as a form of entertainment in certain situations. I had all 3 at the doctor’s office today and no one asked to play on my smartphone, instead the younger two eagerly piled books on my lap (way more than I could have read in our waiting time). However, if the circumstances had been different…if one were very ill and needed my undivided attention, or if we had not used much media time that day and they asked for some in the waiting room, why not? Same goes for restaurants (while waiting for food), and other similar situations. We only allow movies in the car for rides over 30 minutes, and my kids sometimes don’t notice or ask even if the ride is longer than that! (Other times I OFFER it if the ride is long and I’m noticing boredom fueled crankiness set in- it is one option they have along with books, coloring, daydreaming, etc.)

    No I didn’t have all of these things when I was a kid. I was a voracious reader and excelled in school. I also remember being bored to the point of claustrophobia at times. I’m thankful that I can help my kids to develop skills to entertain themselves without electronics, but also give them the chance to enjoy it when appropriate. This has nothing to do with feeling they need to learn how to use it to function in society, I just think it’s not a bad thing if you are disciplined with it!

    It is good to see so many have been inspired by your letter, it’s certainly a stance more families in our society need to take. I also like how you approach it from the angle of connectedness and not just “it’s bad for your brain”. Thank you for posting.

  145. Kristen
    Kristen says:

    I so appreciate your words and commitment to shepherd your boys. Everything you wrote resonates with me as communication and seizing the moments we have with whoever we are with is a priority to me for our family. I was struck though as I read this that too often I am the one buried in my phone, too busy or distracted to listen to what my children are saying or too lazy to address their hearts. So thank you for the reminder, not just for us in parenting, but for us, as parents who need to lead my example!

  146. rob Edwards
    rob Edwards says:

    Enjoyed the letter very much. My best time with my 12 year old twin girls is when we get away to the wilderness, where talking is the only way to communicate. I learn more about my girls in that time when there are no distractions and only conversation to pass the time. I limit my girls’ screen time closely but truly value the “off-grid” time to truly get to know them even better.

    Thanks for the great article. Wish more felt the way we do!

    Rob

  147. Laura
    Laura says:

    Thanks for the re-girding this provides me. I also hold to daily limits of 30 mins and no taking it in the car, to restaurants, etc. My two are 8 and 11 and are a delight to be around (most of the time). My son reads constantly, which can create the same barrier. I don’t allow him to bring books to the table, of course. It’s such a battle, mainly with my 11yo and other parents’ attitudes about what ‘s appropriate. I am ok being that mom though. Thx for this.

  148. Kara
    Kara says:

    I am a freshmen in high school. I have grown up so far without a phone of my own but I know how to use devices and technology. I have gathered so many precious memories from my childhood. Just walking across the street to me and my sister’s friend’s house. I even cherish the pre-k jump start learning games. I love my family so much. We have been through so much together.
    I am scared to think of those years with no play-mates but virtual characters. Instead of sneaking up on our older brother like lions sorting colors on a screen. Instead of prowling the library in search for good stories while my mother turned in books, but trailing behind her on a phone.
    I am torn to see these symptoms in my younger brother. I burn inside for him, for what he is missing. He is missing those exiting discoveries. Sometimes he spends 6 hours on the computer straight. This letter gave me so much hope for him. To know that even though I am not a parent I can still help him to see and look up and around.

  149. Laura
    Laura says:

    Love this. I am the same way with my kids but could never have put the “why” into words so beautifully. Thank you!

  150. Karen
    Karen says:

    Great letter! A couple things….Love this line…” I know that feeding the desire to play in your device is like giving you candy. It satisfies for a moment but provides no long term nutrition. It does more harm than good.”

    Also, feeling convicted about how much time I spend on my screen (s). 🙁

    Thank you for a wonderful HEADS UP!!

  151. Kelley
    Kelley says:

    Great read. I have two boys, 14 and 16. I have been a single parent since they were babies and I was often tempted to plunk them in front of the tv when I needed a time out. The house rules have always been strict — no tv on school nights, no video games ever. I bought them a Wii a few years ago — they are lucky to play on it once a month.. They are too busy with sports to spend time in front of the tv or on the Wii, anyway.
    They have iPhones with histories that only I can clear. Texts have to have a purpose (e.g., to ask about homework). The phones must be left at the door when they arrive home. The family computer sits in an open area where I can see the screen. They have never had a DS. On long car trips, they can read or play cards if they are bored with talking or staring out the window. There are more benefits to gain from reading than from gaming!
    They are both *very* computer literate. Their school marks are amazing. It’s all about balance.

  152. Athena Mikesell
    Athena Mikesell says:

    I am guilty of doing these things more than I should. Although I am getting better and this letter really motivated me to do it more. My boys only get time on the wii on the weekend and for a limited time, that they earn. But I do catch myself letting them go from one screen to another without realizing it was still screen time… Even if it is an educational computer game. We have since limited all screens.
    Our children’s best memories are never made while looking at a screen, and it is my goal to make so many amazing memories that we will share and remember for our whole lives… But as adults we too need to limit our screen time and pay attention to our children because we might miss the most important part of rehire day because we were too busy looking at our phone or device.
    Thank you so much for your letter to your boys. I have 2 sons and your words really moved me. Bless you and your family.

  153. April
    April says:

    Renee
    thank you for such a beautiful letter. I couldn’t agree with you more. When I was growing up we played outside until it was dark and never once asked for my computer which I did have as a child. I am 32 so we had computers and Nintendo s but we were brought up outdoors and playing with friends and family. Now days that’s all you see are kids non stop with ds’ s and iPhones, iPods and ipads. Not to mention the wii u and Xbox I could go on and on. Im not going to lie my two boys have all those things but I like you limit them on when and how long they play on them. I want memories with my two young boys. To cherish years from now and for them to also have memories of me playing with them and doing fun things and talking about their day. Your letter was so heartfelt and meaningful. Thank you for being willing to share such a beautiful letter.

  154. Morgan
    Morgan says:

    I’d like to point on I came across this article by surfing the internet. 🙂 As a 17 year old, I am generally categorized as the “rest of the teenage world” as having a device of some sort in my/ our faces at all times. This can be frustrating, especially as I am not the type to text and walk through parking lots as most teenagers are known for. This article was very refreshing! I have been told that I am quite good at carrying conversation with many different age groups, in part because of the rules of my family and the rules you impose on your boys. I love going in public and seeing teenagers/ young children actually talk to those around them. Thank you for this writing!

  155. Carrie
    Carrie says:

    Sadly this overuse of technology is not just a “kid” problem…my husband and I comment about the adults we see in restaurants that are out together but not connecting with one another because they are on their phones etc. I feel so sad for their children since they will learn by their example. Thank you for this letter…it makes me want to go and wake my children just to talk with them a bit longer. I think we all can cherish the time we have with our kids a bit more. I fight against technology because I miss the days of not having those distractions…I miss the days of people not being so rude…I miss the days where the only entertainment my children knew was their mommy or daddy reading them funny stories and making them laugh until they couldn’t catch their breath. Time with our children is temporary…let’s make the most of it before it is gone.

  156. Shannon
    Shannon says:

    Thank you for sharing this and for reinforcing what really matters. Thank you for reminding me of how much fun we had using our imaginations and playing as children before the onslaught of technology. Thank you for reminding me that I don’t have to feel guilty for not giving in to the constant pressure of using the t.v. as a babysitter, or the iPad as means of distracting my 4 yr. old. I would rather have the joy of listening to our son making up stories as he plays with his trains/planes/babies, of answering his many questions, even when they’re a bit tricky, for reading his favourite books for the umpteenth time, for singing crazy songs together and laughing at ourselves. And finally, thank you for stating so eloquently on what it means to be a loving, caring, giving parent.

  157. Lois Peterson
    Lois Peterson says:

    This coming week two of my sons will be here in our home, together, for the first time in over 30 years. One recently released from many years in prison. The other just retired from the Air Force where he was very successful. As I read your letter to your boys my thoughts were, “did I ever connect with my sons in a similar fashion? My son who was in prison is now a born-again believer. He has found Jesus Christ to be the one who has not only saved him from Hell, but from living a life of hell because of drugs and anger and disappointment and. . . To see Christ in him and to share the Lord with him is the greatest comfort to me, and of course to him. My other son, my youngest, still carries about much disappointment (altho’ he was so successful in his life) but, without Christ. Even tho’ he claimed to have accepted Christ in high school. I am so thankful that Christ Jesus is the faithful one. I don’t know if I am to blame for some of their failures, but as a mom I so want to have them all know that no electronic devices, TV or the myriad of other things available will ever make any difference in their knowing what a relationship with their parents or any society or their own family, with wives and children, etc .can be. Only knowing Christ personally will bring them to know what life was meant to be. Keep writing and sharing with all of us. I liked this letter.

  158. Heather
    Heather says:

    Amazing. In tears at 6 am. I don’t even have kids yet and this breaks my heart. Beautifully written. Thank you for posting.

  159. Cristian
    Cristian says:

    This is inspiring and captures much of what is already in my heart. I struggle with screen time as the father of a seven month old boy, thinking he doesn’t know any better, or that it’s mom’s turn to give him face time. Baloney. This kid looks with utter curiosity at the glow of my smart phone. And my eyes are often not meeting his. Thank you for writing this. I recently purchased a “dumb” phone on ebay which allows me to remove my SIM card from my smart phone and use it in a device with limited capabilities other than making calls. It’s time to get back to a true connection. Great letter.

    Cristian
    Dallas, TX

  160. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    We have an only child, a daughter, we limit her technology time. 2 hours a day of TV, iPad, phone whatever, even in the summer. like you no electronics at the table, restaurant or with family. As a teacher I see the damage all of this technology time is causing. Thank you for this post.

  161. Gracie
    Gracie says:

    Christie–You could not be more correct. I, too, am a teacher, and it breaks my heart to see how consumed children are with video games. I have two young kids at home, ages 3 and 4, and they have to “suffer” with the boredom of no screen time with my husband and I. They stay with a babysitter while we’re working, and are in front of a tv for the majority of the time. When they are home, I want their attention. When we are driving down the road, I want them to look around at their surroundings and see what’s out in the world. Yes, it would be easy to hand them my phone and not have to hear for the fiftieth time “what’s that there for,” but then my babies would be missing out on learning opportunities! I am so glad to hear that I am not alone in my endeavors to keep my family and old fashioned family who likes to actually TALK to each other!

    Renee–Great, Great letter! You’re and inspiration!

  162. Gracie
    Gracie says:

    AN* old fashioned family..
    You’re AN* inspiration…

    Proofreading would go a long ways! lol

  163. Janice Powell
    Janice Powell says:

    Your words spoke my heart as I struggle with my 15 year old son who wants to spend most of his time on the computer. You helped me provide a way to communicate to him on the subject. But you also opened my eyes to the fact that I have been griping at him and nagging him rather than speaking in love. Have a little work to do there! Thank you!

  164. Monica
    Monica says:

    How cooler would this be for a kid to write this to their parents … 🙂

    Kids are missing out on their parents!

    Great letter!

  165. Patty
    Patty says:

    This is perfect! I am anti-electronics as well! Limited time only bc like you, I want to experience my boys as they experience the world! Thank you for putting this to paper, as I couldn’t have said this better myself! Thank you! Thank you!

  166. Tammy W.
    Tammy W. says:

    In our family, it’s the grandma that can’t seem to put her phone down! We just had my parents visit (after not seeing them in 10 months!), and my mom was tied to her phone half the time. My 5-, 3-, and almost 1-year-old children will not be allowed to do that!

  167. Molly
    Molly says:

    This is how it was when we were growing up. I want the same thing for my son and I. Thank you for this beautiful letter. God bless you!!

  168. LeeAnn
    LeeAnn says:

    Unfortunately, I did not learn this lesson. I thought technology in my home was fine ad long as I monitored it. Little did I know that my boys were sneaking up in the middle of the night and they were Mich more advanced on the internet than I was so I did not know the dark places they went to. My 26 year old son got through OK he is a little red about constantly texting but very good in society. My 24 year old is socially awkward. He is a wonderful person but does not communicate very well face to face. I fear he will never have a meaningful relationship. My 19 year old son is where it turns into a bad nightmare. He found secret perverse sexual world out there and is seriously addicted. He is very naieve and had now been warped to natural love and relationships. He is living dangerously sneaking off to meet with people. Counseling is not helping as he has become a master at lying. I have had tough love and much prayer. I get a lot of advice on what I should do bit until you live through it-it is not easy to do a lot that you would like to. Any prayers for him are greatly appreciated as I have had to turn him over to God. My 12 year old now suffers the consequences of his older brothers and is not happy about his limitations. If I had it to do all over again, I would never ever allow devices in the privacy of their rooms. Internet would be restricted to schoolwork and family time. Good job Renee it sound like you are making healthy choices for your sons.

  169. Renee
    Renee says:

    LeeAnn, my heart breaks for your pain. Thank you for being vulnerable and transparent with us. Sharing your sorrow here could be just what someone needs to hear to make a change that could save their child. I will be praying for your family. And I know others in this community will as well. You are right, placing him in God’s hands is all you can do. Blessings to you.

  170. ~LL~
    ~LL~ says:

    Wonderfully wise!

    I struggle with this as I get distracted by my own work. I do limit….even then, I sometimes wish we didn’t have any. I have 4 boys ages 8-14. We do “No Technology Tuesdays and Sundays.” It is hard….but helpful.

    Bless you

  171. Victoria
    Victoria says:

    Thank you for your words and oh how I envy you. I work hard to do this as well with my three boys and I would like (if you will permit me) to add something to your letter. I too have three boys. All 3 of my boys have special needs. I too want to give them all I can and strive for that daily. I must say I fail too …. more than I want to admit. But along with EVERYTHING you said I have asked that people do not judge those of us who have allowed our sons to use electronics. One uses it for communication (Autismate allows our son to place an order with a waiter or hostess and show them as well as use words to convey what he would like to eat). One uses it for his anxiety issues (being around large groups of people in an enclosed environment is a nightmare….for instance a restaurant) and the third has it from coming from an abusive situation in the foster care system. To him he uses it as a toddler would use a security blanket. Once people get past “judging us” and realize each of our sons electronics (the iPad, iPod, and Kindle) have programs where they have to engage others (the waiters, other customers etc) they see how these “electronics” if used properly and with tact can help those with severe issues be able to communicate with the outside world. It is something where electronics do benefit a person. But if I had a nickel for how many times my husband and I have been stopped by good meaning folks criticizing us about allowing the use of electronics in stores and restaurants I would be able to pay for all their therapies without ever having to save up extra money. For those who read this post I 100% agree with you but ask that others please do not judge those of us who have found the electronic world to BLESS us in ways we cannot begin to describe.

    I believe our real problem in our world is people who choose not to “be with their children” but look for those things that can “babysit their children.” We all have limited time with our children. My prayer is for those to focus on their children and quit judging others. We all have battles. We all have issues. Let us embrace one another and help one another instead of judging and being critical.

    Again, thank you for your words. May we all treasure this precious time we have with our children.

  172. Anthony
    Anthony says:

    Electronics are an essential part of Modern everyday life. The more you are involved with electronics the better off you will be in the long run. Knowing how to send and receive emails , use social media and other things on computers these days if you want your child to get a college degree learning all they can now about electronics is essential . You look at electronics as a waste of time when in reality the kids who are immersed in using electronics now have the upper hand in getting accepted in to college. The word “I ” appeared 54 times so this letter isn’t to your children it’s a letter to yourself. When left to make their own decisions children sometimes get bored and move on to something else but it is clear that you’re not willing to let that happen.

  173. Darlene DeForest
    Darlene DeForest says:

    I need to give this to my husband…..he is the one who is overly connected! My son just turned 18, and on April vacation, he went on a class trip to Peru, where there was no internet/wifi/gaming going on. He didn’t miss it one bit, being able to live in the moment, to experience the culture of the villages in Peru, he would go back in a heartbeat. When he came home after 10 days away, he said he missed not being not connected, whereas todays kids & adults are just too connected! He totally gets it! I hope more parents would limit their childrens time with their face buried behind a screen. It will make for a better world in the end, IMHO.

  174. MARY HELEN TALL
    MARY HELEN TALL says:

    THAT LETTER OF YOURS BROUGHT TEARS TO MY EYES BECAUSE MY SONS ARE ALL GROWN WITH FAMILIES OF THEIR OWN.DUE TO CIRCUMSTANCES, I WAS NOT ABLE TO STAY AT HOME AND TO BE WITH THEM AS THEY GREW UP.THEIR DAD AND I WERE DIVORCED AND I HAD TO WORK TO SUPPORT THEM.THE GOOD THING ABOUT MY JOB IS IT WAS ONLY A BLOCK FROM MY HOUSE AND I REFUSED TO WORK NIGHTS SO I COULD AT LEAST BE HOME WITH THEM AFTER SCHOOL AND TIL BEDTIME . MY SONS AL GREW UP TO BE FINE CITIZENS WITH NO BLEMISHES..THEY ARE AND HAVE BEEN HARD WORKERS AND THEY RANGE IN AGE FROM 37 TO 55 BUT I REGRET ALL MISSED ..I COULD WRITE A BOOK ABOUT HOW PROUD I AM OF ALL MY SONS AND THEIR FAMILIES I AM RETIRED NOW AND HAVE BEEN SINCE MY HEART ATTACK FORCED ME TO IN 1997..GOD HAS BEEN GOOD TO ME AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW I REALLY ENJOYED YOUR LETTER TO YOUR SON…MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY..

  175. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    I try to do the same. My kids have tablets, but they only use them for a certain amount of time at night. The second they don’t want to go outside because they are playing a game. The devices are gone. My kids play outside most of the day. We drive 27 miles over Ortega highway, where there is no cell service. We sing, talk, and play our own games… I know who my kid ate lunch with and played with, we do homework and spelling in the car so we can play when we get home! Kids who are plugged in are loosening out on life. My kids can still work my phone better than I can so they will be just fine in life. They are truely excited to get to play a video game at a friends house because to them it’s a treat. I love every second we get to play together….

  176. Laurie
    Laurie says:

    Thank you for sharing your letter!! It is so refreshing to know I’m not alone in the technology department. So many have shared that my kids will have difficulty socializing with other children because I have not introduced video games! On top of that our new neighbors have two children and were completely shocked that we stay away from them. The response was so detailed and lengthy of all the reasons why their kids play them. It can be exhausting and responding can be challenging as well.
    Thank you again for sharing your heart!!!!
    What an amazing mommy you are…

  177. Holly
    Holly says:

    Thank you for those honest words! I read that thinking of my children and I don’t want to miss a minute and while they don’t understand that now, one day they will, I am a teacher and it breaks my heart to see how relationships are important and yet given minimal time. My husband and I both feel that relationships are most important at home , work and church/ community. Thank you for your amazing words !!

  178. Tara Hooks
    Tara Hooks says:

    Well said. I think many parents would be surprised at how many kids there out do not have it in them to unplug themselves. And I believe that many parents don’t demand it of them. I hope that my kids will grow up with the ability to hold a conversation with anyone and know how to spell without spellcheck correcting it for them. They are 8 and 10 and each of them have had friends show up at our house for a playdate with their Ipad in hand asking me for the code to get online. I have told each friend that comes in that I do not do that. If you are here to play, then play. Eventually, they figure it out and they are off making forts, making bracelets to sell or busting out the old box of legos. They are happy and almost seem relieved to have a chance to be creative, have a voice and be social. I’m glad my kids are messy kids in the house. That means that they are having fun and not staring at screens all day. More parents should put limits on electronics. The kids will appreciate it without admitting it and most of all…they will survive. Thanks for sharing this article. I’m unplugging now and about to race my kids in the pool – a real race – not a virtual race.

  179. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    WOW….just WOW!! I’m sorry I didn’t see this the first time in January. This is absolutely beautiful. I have two boys who are quickly growing up (16 and almost 13) into young men. I am very guilty of letting them have too much screen time and I am now more encouraged (because of your letter) than ever to cut them back on their time! WE, as a family, do almost everything TOGETHER 🙂 I have been lightly teased by friends b/c we have our boys attend each other’s events when they could have just stayed home. And even our boys will moan sometimes about “having to go” to something; but as I explain to my boys – we are a FAMILY. A family supports one another in all that they do. I want them to have those memories, even if they really didn’t want to go (ha,ha). I want them to understand what a FAMILY means. I recently pinned a quote and added how Thankful and Blessed I am to have a Husband and Children who ENJOY going to church with me 🙂 For us, it is: Family, Faith, Friends…..in that order! THANK YOU, THANK YOU Renee for writing such an outstanding, wonderful message to families! YOU inspire me 🙂

  180. Monica Colomer
    Monica Colomer says:

    Absolutely amazing letter to your boys. As a wife I get what you are telling your boys. As a mother I too want to communicate that to my children. Thank you for sharing. God’s love & peace. Mo~

  181. Goodlu
    Goodlu says:

    Loved reading all the varying opinions …yes technology is very important part of our lives and it’s essential to keep up with it….and this goes for all ages..I think what I understood from the post is that as in everything moderation is the key…Kids and adults now a days are forgetting basic etiquettes which make us all enjoy each other as well as look like civilized human beings. Technology if used to learn and grow is totally different than using it to be rude…I think we all are guilty of cell phone use at the cost of offending others around us…let’s all keep moderation and consideration while enjoying the great strides in technology. Let’s embrace it as tool and convenience we all need to use…but not at the cost of good manners ..

  182. Jeanette
    Jeanette says:

    Lovely letter.. thank you so much for sharing and for the much needed reminder. My two oldest were virtually electronic free, rarely watched tv etc. We read a lot and they were always outside building something. I’m afraid my youngest (6 and 8 years younger than my 2 oldest) it is much different, partly because he is almost an only child in a way. (oldest two in college now)

    Regardless, the same is true.

    Thank you again for the much needed reminder.

  183. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    I love how you love your boys enough to be so honest and ‘demanding’ of their time, their eyes, their thoughts, their quirks, etc. You are so right….we have such precious little time with one another that it shouldn’t be wasted. My children are grown now and are so distracted by these devices that it’s hard to hold discussions with them. I absolutely demand that they not be brought to the dinner table. We live far apart from one another and when we do get together, I don’t want their smartphones to join us! I’m planning on sharing your letter with them. Thank you! Blessings to you and your family.

  184. Catherine
    Catherine says:

    This is wonderful . . . I grew up in the 90’s, which was the dawn of the Nintendo and Playstation consoles, so many of my childhood friends (as well as myself, I admit) were often glued to the tv screen during the summertime. This article makes me appreciate my mother so much, who would firmly turn off that tv and tell me and my sisters to go outside and play. I’m so glad she did . . . I bonded closely with my sisters during those little adventures we had in our yard, and our relationship remains strong even as we grew up and flew the nest. Thank you for being such a brave, loving Mom! I know challenging the status quo can be a tough road to travel, but your kids will one day appreciate what you are doing for them, and that’s all that really matters in the end. God bless!

  185. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    As a new mom to a 2 month old, I thank you for sharing your heart. I see how quickly my son is changing already and I too want to cherish every minute. May God bless you and your family!

  186. Pam White
    Pam White says:

    Simply WOW!!!! Perhaps this could be published for parents to rethink their way of using Electrics as a babysitter. Thank you Renee for keeping it REAL>!!! Some might call your thinking “old School” but I call it “WORDS of WISDOM”.

    God bless you and yours

    Pam White/ old school mother and grandmother

  187. Lori
    Lori says:

    I loved reading this. It’s how I feel about my children and technology. We did a week of no video games, TV, or texting. My kids friends and some parents thought we were crazy. But, I wanted to remind them how important everyday that you have with your family is important and that we don’t realized how much time we’re wasting everyday on those devices. We already set limits for all of us in the family on TV and video games. I believe this is one reason I’m so close to my kids. Thank you for sharing!! Blessings!

  188. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Wonderfully written, applies not just to sons but daughters, all family and friends of all ages. We all need to disconnect the devices and reconnect with our attention to those we love.

  189. Nathan
    Nathan says:

    Thank you for sharing this it is well written, and contained a lot of truth. It will really help them when they are older and can spend an afternoon getting to know friends with out brining out there cellphone every 5 minutes to check a text message that they have received or Facebook and instead enjoy the presence of there family and friends.

  190. Lorene Bowles
    Lorene Bowles says:

    This is so beautiful! I am one of those grandmothers who sits at a family gathering and watches her grandchildren using their phones and other electronic gadgets and truly becomes saddened (and a little unhappy) that their parents don’t make them put those things away. Actually, sometimes the parents do the same things. We’ve missed way too many moments together because of the barrier those things erect between us. This is a beautiful letter. Thank you. I’m going to try to put it on my Facebook page, but I’m not sure how to do that.

  191. Anne Bennett Brosnan
    Anne Bennett Brosnan says:

    I’m due my third little boy tomorrow and understand the value of what you write. Having a real connection with mommy is the utmost in our relationship. Loved this beautiful post. Thank you, Anne

  192. Renee
    Renee says:

    Rekehl-you are not a failure and there is always hope. Change is always available to us if we want it.

  193. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    I just want to let you know how much your letter touched me. We do not have a DS or handheld devices for that reason. I would never judge another parent on this – it’s just your words are exactly how I feel. So thank you!

  194. Sally Ann Gray
    Sally Ann Gray says:

    This is so wonderful and applies to every family member including spouses . Thank you for these wise words

  195. Jennifer S
    Jennifer S says:

    Someone posted this on Facebook and I loved it! I have 5 children (4 of them boys). As I approach summer this was an awesome reminder for me. I feel the same way that you do, but you articulated it so well! I have been thinking about what our “summer tech” rules will be. Perfect timing.

    Another related point…I think less tech gives our children a better chance to learn to deal with conflict between themselves. With the number of kids in our family it would be easy for me to give them computer/Ipad time when I see them argue or show their “brotherly love” or even play fight. I usually let it go and let them work it out. I have been tempted at times to give in and let electronics soothe all disagreements but I feel it is detrimental in the long run.

    Thanks again!!

  196. Kathryn
    Kathryn says:

    Thank you for your wisdom! I agree 110%!! I am amazed at some of the comments here by people thinking you have a “no electronics” rule?!? Did they not read the article in it’s entirety? It is clear that you use electronics in balance and moderation…and you are so sweet in your comments when you reply to those individuals! Just had to comment on that 😉 Keep on keeping on! God Bless!!!

  197. Rita
    Rita says:

    Renee, I do not know you, but I love you just the same:) It’s counter-culture and it’s fine to be that way. It’s better than fine–it’s what we’re called to be. If they haven’t thanked you yet, they will one day! God bless your family.

  198. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    You beautifully put into words the feelings in my heart. I printed this out for all of my children ( 2 boys and a girl) to share with them. I am also including an apology for the times I have escaped to Facebook or the internet instead of being present to them. I promised them that I would be more present to them. I want to lead by example and limit my screen time too.

  199. JustMamaKoolaid
    JustMamaKoolaid says:

    I feel like you are equating distance and barriers between people as being the fault of electronics not that of the people involved. Each member of my family spends at least 20 hours a week on our electronic devices, yet you will never meet a closer family who cheers each on for their individuality and encourages each in pursuing their unique dreams. That is not in spite of our electronics but because of them. I have a disablity in which a gentle hug often causes the need to scream. We game together and hang out through our xboxes. Our devices have also allowed us the maximum control over our ADHD and has increased our attention span.

    I also notice that you feel memories can’t be made together on electronic devices. Some of our best memories have happened while we are on ours. It’s the doing things together not what we are doing that fosters closeness and memories.

    I have the feeling you personally dislike electronic devices and so your bias against them pushes the cause of distance between people on the incorrect cause. It’s the attitude not the device that causes such distance.

    Lastly, you equate eye contact with true connection. All the best people in my life have been met through electronic devices. By the time we’ve met in person we are all so intertwined in one another’s lives that it is a homecoming of sorts. I drove 3 hours to hang out with a friend from xbox this Memorial Day weekend. I was invited to just walk in upon arrival without knocking, an given free range as well. The house was still lived in and not cleaned just for my arrival. To any outsider you would assume we’d been friends forever and been together offline many times.

    I do however appreciate your call for families to become closer and truly connect.

  200. ali
    ali says:

    I too wrote a blog entry regarding the terrible use of technology with today’s youth, and I too was absolutely destroyed and publicly humiliated. I applaud you for your courage and your determination to post this important message again. My husband and I are 100% adamant about screen free time. Our 3 and 5 year old have no I Pad, no access to our cell phone and limited Television Programming. Our children are well behaved, well mannered and intelligent. I like to think our avoidance of technology, as well as my husband’s and my guidance, are reasons for their success. It is refreshing to know there are other families like us. Thank you for your post

  201. Joy McGee
    Joy McGee says:

    I read every word! I am thankful that my children were almost grown before they ever had a cell phone or computer of their own. We often played video games together when they were little, back in the ’80s. Mostly Mario Brothers 🙂 I didn’t permit any violent games at all!

    I would like an article such as this one written from a 9th grade science teacher’s point of view because electronics have ruined so many of my students’ lives for school and probably for their home life and true social life as well!!

    Thanks for sharing! I’m bookmarking for future reference!!

  202. Andie
    Andie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I do not have children yet but I am a firm believer in the truth of what you said here. Time is the most precious thing and it breaks my heart to see kids addicted to electronic devices. Your words are a refreshing blessing! Thanks again.

  203. NikkiM
    NikkiM says:

    It never ceases to amaze me the way that God speaks to us, especially in our times of greatest need. Thank you for writing this. For teaching your boys this. For sharing it with others so we may get these reminders in life. I have been spending a lot of time trying to wrap my brain around filling those endless summer hours with my 6 and 9 YO daughters and this has reminded me that this summer is a gift. I GET to spend time with my girls and it IS a gift.

  204. Student
    Student says:

    Renee,

    I am a student who has just recently started university. I have lived my life with my parents limiting my video games, telling me what I should and shouldn’t play, constantly monitoring what I was doing on the screen, advising me to do other worthwhile things with my time. I sort of understood why they wanted this, but I never really knew how much of an impact these games would have on my life. What you’ve said above is absolutely right – playing video games has lead me to neglect my family, my friends, my studies and my life. I wish that I had understood the reasons above for not playing them, for living my life and not another, meaningless one on a screen. Please, continue to tell your boys this – it is one of the greatest gifts that you could ever give them. May God bless your efforts to raise a family focused on Him!

  205. George Snider
    George Snider says:

    I was thinking on my way home from the rodeo the other night and got touched by the spirit, so I wrote it down.
    It is just something to think about….
    I wonder what would happen if we treated our Bibles like we treat our cell phones.
    What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?
    What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?What if we flipped through it several times a day?
    What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
    What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?
    What if we gave them to kids as gifts?
    What if we used it as we traveled?
    What if we used it in case of an emergency?
    Something to make you say hmmm, and where is my Bible?
    God bless and keep sharing the Good News !!! ~ Cowboys4Christ 3/18/14

  206. MaryJo
    MaryJo says:

    I was scrolling down my FB page and came across this article. Reading this makes ME feel ashamed, I am the one that is guilty of having my face in a screen. I have ADHD and always feel like I need to be doing something, sitting still is not in my blood. I find having a smartphone with access to computer games, email, fb, etc.. has made me a more patient person. I no longer mind; sitting at the orthodontist office, waiting in line at the grocery store, sitting in the car waiting for their practices to get over, or school to get out. Just last week my son had a double header baseball game, I got restless sitting on the bleachers so after about an hour I pulled out my phone and started to play a game, I was on and off my phone for the rest of his game. On the way home I told him it was a good game and I thought he played well, his response was, “how would you know you were on your phone the whole time” OUCH – that hurt.

    I have four kids, two of them are in their mid 20’s and never had electronics growing up, just a basic cell phone when they were in HS. My other two are young teenagers, the oldest has a smartphone and an Ipad, the younger one has an ipod and basic cell phone. I have caught them up late at night on their electronics so I recently took them away at bedtime. I’ve never allowed them during family meals, and I do limit their use.. After reading this article I realize I need to leave my phone in the car during their games, and limit MY use when they are home.

    Thank you for writing this article and bringing it to my attention.

  207. Heather
    Heather says:

    WOW! I have 4 boys and this is EXACTLY how I feel. Thank you SO much for posting this! I have never been able to put into words how I feel about my boys using electronics and all I do is say ‘no.’ Of course they never understand and so they just get upset. I feel so lost in our world because when my kids say “Well, so and so gets to…” they are RIGHT! I see SO many parents on their phones during games and programs that I literally interrupt their tech time when I see their child make an accomplishment…I’m saddened they were about to miss it! I also take all of my kids to watch their brothers games and again, they don’t understand why they have to be there. I feel empowered by your letter. THANK YOU!!

  208. colleen splitter
    colleen splitter says:

    Love this! We have one TV in our house. In order for our son to watch it he has to spend time exercising, reading books, studying or spending time finishing his merit badges for Scouts. He also doesn’t have the latest phone so he can’t surf the internet when ever he wants. IPad use is limited as well. He understands why I would prefer to not have a TV, not play video games all afternoon or live on the internet. He read this and smiled…his response “She is right Mom. We don’t have long and I will be away to college.”. So nice there are others in the world that value family time and good old fashioned interaction with the people in our lives.

  209. Annette Davis
    Annette Davis says:

    My parents limited my TV time, I limited my son’s screen time–you are on target. As a librarian, I noticed you didn’t mention reading which may have just been because you were sticking to your topic. Taking books to the doctor’s office and both of you reading during that hour long wait is a powerful model for a child. Building the love of story that motivates a child to be a lifelong reader takes exposure to a range of books the child enjoys. And listening to audiobooks during car drives can spark some amazing discussions.

  210. Aaron Erndt
    Aaron Erndt says:

    I have really enjoyed taking the time to read this article. You are absolutely right about showing our children moderation. Since the title is very gender specific, I feel it is acceptable to comment on our roles as fathers. Daddy’s support and example cannot be overlooked here. Our little guys need to see dad using his hands to understand what they (boys) should do with theirs. They observe and watch our every activity and this kinetic magnum opus is repeated over and over. The sanctity of this relationship is imperative and it cannot change as society continues to devalue fathers in the “Information Age”. Dads and sons need that shoulder to shoulder time to work on projects together and avoid tuning each other out between screens. When that precious time together presents itself, dad needs to resist the urge to be distracted by electronic interference. Cherish the Y chromosome in the home!

  211. Renae
    Renae says:

    I so needed to hear this!! Our family has been struggling with the fact that we don’t have an xbox or wii – I’ve had my small group ladies pray over this. Telling a child to live differently from others can be hard – and I haven’t had a good reason other than we are afraid to lose you (I guess I’m not this creative)… and your brain may be impacted… all that stuff. He does have an ipod and plays games M-T-TH- and Sat – and must take Wed., Fri. and Sun off – and that seems to work – what is hard is when he goes to other kids houses and sees all that they have available at any time of the day. I’m inspired to write him his very own letter about our family choice to not have xbox or wii ….. One thing that did bother me though is when Joshua has to take an electronic (either his ipod, my ipad, or my phone) in the grocery if it’s on “one of his days”…. that just really bothers me – because he is that kids blindly following me behind the grocery cart with his head down in a screen…. after reading your letter – I have a new strategy to change all that!! Thank you.

  212. Lenore
    Lenore says:

    We also actively choose doctors that do not have television screens in the waiting area either. We even went to a vet once that told us that our twins were the only ones they’d seen in a long time that was wanting the books read to them from their bookshelf – our twins were 2 at the time – and they wanted all of them read. They are still like that even at age 3.5 We forbid TV and all screens except Skype to chat with their father if he is traveling on business.

  213. Sheila
    Sheila says:

    Amen. Awesome mother that actually wants to raise her children. Your boys will look back & thank you.

  214. MEL
    MEL says:

    You have written exactly how I feel about my kids and technology. For us, it is honoring God with the precious time He has given us. “Thou shall not steal” does not only mean not stealing material things from other people but also not stealing the precious resources that are given to us. Without sounding legalistic my 3 kids ages 8, 6, and 4 don’t play video games and watch only 20 minutes of TV a day. They do very well without electronics, their main toy of choice are pen and paper and books. They stay occupied by drawing, playing with each other, asking lots of questions, playing board games, building their own toys out of ordinary objects around the house. We have survived an 11 flight and an additional 8 hour lay over without any electronic devices. They are never bored and have learned to be productive without a lot of guidance from me.

    We went through a time when my kids would turn on the TV first thing in the morning, I tried many ways to get them off the habit. It was easier to “pacify” them with the TV. We went through a whole year of de-programming. I started reading more to them, bought drawing books and origami books. We traded our old habits with the new ones until it became a lifestyle. They are a lot happier because they are being productive. Our rule on how to spend our time are: 1. doing something to grow spiritually 2. doing something for someone, 3. creating something with our hands or 4. doing something for our intellectual growth.

    Before I had kids – I worked as a Software Developer for 11 years. I am not anti-technology but I know that they are designed as a productivity tool and never meant for entertainment. I did not touch a computer until I went to high school – our kids will learn technology with ease once they have developed the maturity and responsibility to handle it.

  215. Renee
    Renee says:

    Mel-I love this. I love your 4 rules. I love how you see the benefits of technology for productivity and realize our kids will not fail. I didn’t have a computer until college and I do just fine as well. So will our kids 🙂

  216. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    As a third grade teacher in NYC, I constantly am asked by children to bring in their electronic games for recess and for the school bus ride for a trip. When I say no, they always say, “But what are we going to do for the long ride or if there is traffic? Or I don’t like recess. Um how about talk to your buddy sitting next to you?? Look out the window at the sights??, or even rest or read a book. Elementary school children seem to have a huge problem managing their time without electronics. I hate to say that while some parents are waiting for report card conferences or meetings at school they are blatantly ignoring these same children as they are locked on their own phones. No one is perfect, I am guilty myself at times checking in with email, or posting a pic, but this is definitely something that needs more awareness. The effects….. Thank you for posting 🙂

  217. Erin earhart
    Erin earhart says:

    This is beautiful. I got misty-eyed while reading it…truly. Their lives go by in a blink and I don’t want to miss one second.
    My parents didn’t let us watch much tv, and we didn’t have cell phones when I was a child. My parents made us eat dinner at the kitchen table and talk about our day whether we wanted to or not. I can honestly say, it truly was a blessing. I am closer with my parents than most of my friends, and our relationship has grown from parent-child to true friendship in adulthood. What you are doing will pay off for you and your children more than you know (this coming from the child side of it, of course).
    As a new parent, I try to to emulate my parents (and you) by avoiding tv, phones, and iPads. It’s a struggle, especially when you’re tired, to not give them whatever object will keep them occupied. I try to remind myself everyday that these moments will pass too quickly.
    Thank you for sharing this and helping all of us like-minded parents. Children are a joy and a true gift from god. We should cherish these moments before they are gone.

  218. Norma Carleton
    Norma Carleton says:

    I think this message could also go the other way… From Child to Parent – when the parent is always occupied with electronics instead of just spending quality moments which come and go too fast with their Precious Gifts from God…
    Amen –

  219. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    I agree with your sentiments about limiting the use of technology and how important it is to put it away so we can connect as families and be more aware about the world around us. However, your discussion loses much of its power when you start out with your examples of what all those “other” parents let their kids do. Making your point in your important message based on assumptions about the choices of others whom you have merely observed, perhaps only in passing, is divisive and judgmental, and leads others to also make judgmental comments about those “other” parents and kids. Can we not share our positive thoughts and ideas for healthy living without making negative comparisons to people who have made different choices?

  220. Renee
    Renee says:

    Tracy-thank you for your comment. I’m very sorry you felt judged by the article. It certainly wasn’t my intent and I do not feel others felt judged by it. The fact is that my boys do very often feel “different” than other kids. I am not judging anyone. It’s a fact. When we are at a restaurant, they are the minority and they feel awkward. When we are at sporting events, they aren’t allowed to take a device, others sometimes can….they feel different. In order to make my point to them, I had to use examples they could relate to. I wrote a letter to my boys explaining why I make the choice I do, which leads them to feel different. If you were a reader here, you would quickly realize that I’m not divisive at all and genuinely love people. If you read through my past articles, you will see how I share my failures very openly. I do not attempt to set myself above anyone else. Blessings to you!

  221. Phyllis
    Phyllis says:

    My son is 26 and oh how I wish I would have read this years ago. We used the computer to help him with difficulties reading and spelling, and it awakened his voracious appetite for video games. While he doesn’t have an ipad or iphone, he does spend a great deal of time playing games rather than interacting with others. Your post applies to both girls and boys, however, and I hope others will reconsider how much technology takes away the joys of childhood and discovering how to play on one’s own and creating relationships with others. Great advice and hope others will find help in sharing with young parents and grandparents.

  222. nancy spears
    nancy spears says:

    This is the best.with me raising a teen grandchild Its hard but your feeling is mine also .God bless you and I know one day your boys will thank you

  223. LeAnn
    LeAnn says:

    Wow, what power you have put into something this day & time that has overtaken not only kids, but adults too. How often do we go into a restaurant and all head’s are bowed, not praying, but focused in on Facebook in the middle of others lives rather than being focused on their own. I have made it a rule at my table, no phones allowed, at home or at the restaurant. I purposely leave my phone in the car, so that not even a distraction of a phone call interrupt our dinner conversation. My kids will sometimes complain when I have taken their phones. I just share with them, they were nonexistent when I was growing up. Then when I share where I lived, out in the country, I couldn’t even talk to friends except for 3 after school, b/c everyone was long distance. Even worse than that, we had a party line! Does anyone remember those days, sharing one line with 3 other house holds? I look back to those days which really weren’t that long ago. I didn’t even own an electronic anything except for a cassette player & calculator! We had to think, imagine & discover to do things that we made up out of what we had. Some of the best times was picking my grandpa’s huge garden, then sitting on the porch shelling & snapping beans, pulling husks from corn. Then the best rewarding thing when we were done, Grandpa would bring out a nice cold watermelon half and we would dig in! Where did all that time come from? It’s all you can do to just get by with the have to’s. I really miss those days, I truly believe the days get shorter with time. It’s such a fast paced world. I have twin daughters that will be graduating this Thursday. We have sar and looked at pictures, where did time go? They are graduating a year early, from hard work. They are graduating from our Church school. While I am so very proud of them & their accomplishments, it also saddens me, b/c they will beginning a new chapter in their lives, a year earlier than expected. I also have an eleven year old son. I hope I can take some of your thoughts and incorporate them with mine. Thank you so much for this letter. It is very touching & an eye opener. I think we as adults should take this and apply it to our lives as well. May God bless you : )

  224. Misti Green
    Misti Green says:

    This is a constant problem in our home. My two boys love gaming and electronics. I have made a few good rules for Summer and their will be more in the Fall. This is so heavy on my heart as well. Great article. I am so glad to know I am not the only mom that cares about this area in her son’s life. Great Article!!!

  225. Deborah Tibbetts
    Deborah Tibbetts says:

    I truly applaud you! My husband and I raised four boys during the 80s when computers were just coming on the scene. Although they used them at school, they just weren’t that interested. They loved to play in the woods and on the mountains, camp, ride their bikes, and generally just loved being with each other and doing things they loved. To this day, they are all close and would stop anything to help each other. They are all fine young men with lovely wives and families and we couldn’t be more proud! I thank God for the opportunity to have that time with them. They all come home on a regular basis and we all still love having the time together. Stick to your guns Renee. You are a wonderful mother and those boys will be able to tell you in a meaningful way just how much that meant to them, and just how much they love you for it!!

  226. shauna
    shauna says:

    I understand your wanting to have and catch every precious moment you can of your boys lives. I have 2 boys of my own, who are both tech savy and able to carry on an appropriate conversation with an adult since they were 5. They are 13 and 20 now. Technology hasn’t hindered them but given them endless possibilities, allowed them to travel because they had a phone. We wouldn’t have allowed them to go places with groups or their friends families, otherwise. I can not stand the parent, who finds it acceptable at the doctors office to allow there child to climb on the furniture or me or even ramble on and on, to discover themselves. Great time for technology a phone for a Kindle book or a Kindle to read. My son and I usually read the same book to discuss it later for school. As for restaurants, I have come to believe that when I was a baby if I acted up my Mom removed me and I did the same until the boys were behaving and then back to the table. Parents today for the most part think only of their world and don’t care if their screaming baby or child kicking or hanging over your booth bothers your dinner. So here are my thought electronic have their place and uses but that is after you in still good olé fashion values in your children, first by picking them up and removing them from the situation when they are fussy as a baby at places and then take them back. Walk your 2 -5 year old out discuss right from wrong and then go back to situation, don’t just give them a movie, because more than likely they are still hanging over the booth at the restaurant but this time I have been hit in the head with your phone or ipad. If you have instilled great values in your children young you don’t have to worry about telling them to put away an electronic device at each others events, they do it because the respect one another, love one another and respect your values. As for the Internet and limiting time children are on their, I don’t limit them, well the older one he is 20 and graduating college. I am limiting my younger one either it is like TV, I monitor what he does. So technology has it time and it’s place and it is a great tool to broaden a child’s future. It is a great tool to keep a child busy if used correctly and as learning experience. In reading your letter I just wonder though are you that Mom that even though she said oh your boys have no electronic in their hands, was it because she thought it a good thing or do you also subscribe to the boys will be boys motto and she was thinking wow their leaving the store. If you are not that Mom, I commend you.

  227. Loren Saunders
    Loren Saunders says:

    To anyone wondering if their kids are missing out by not having access to electronics at an early age I have a few questions…

    1. how long did it take you to learn how to dial a call on a cell phone or use your ipad?

    2. what makes you think your kid will be any different when they finally need it?

    3. what did kids do before we had all that stuff?

    For people looking for schools and supportive communities of people in this effort (actually having relationships with people instead of things) check out any Waldorf school.

    Good luck!

  228. AJ Collins
    AJ Collins says:

    Wonderful letter! I also limit my kids’ screen time, we play tic-tac-toe and do madlibs in restaurants and play 20 questions while we wait. We tell stories and jokes and talk about our days around our dinner table each evening. We teach our children manners and make them order for themselves in restaurants and talk on the phone to grandparents and use manners when speaking to us and each other at home. It is worth it… every time.

  229. Abby
    Abby says:

    I’d like to suggest that you all don’t judge those who let their kids use electronics at the doctor’s office, sporting events, dinners out, etc. Most likely they, too, have limitations on their kids use, but choose to use these moments to allow the use of electronics. It doesn’t make them less interested in their children or in their children’s well being. In my family, they are only allowed to use their electronics at these times because they are times when my attention is already distracted from them (watching siblings, enjoying a discussion with my husband, etc.). I find it a great use of electronics. My 4 year old can be a supportive sibling without watching his sister’s gymnastics class twice a week. I don’t feel guilty about enjoying a dinner out and focusing on my husband in lieu of my children. I stay at home and spend all day with the kids, but my husband doesn’t get near the attention he deserves.

    Just my opinion.

  230. Charles Allen
    Charles Allen says:

    Has anyone seen the commercial by Verizon where the kids are being driven to their grandmothers house by their father and they look all sad in the back seat because grandmas house is boring. When they get there grandma surprisingly has for them an ipad, internet, games, etc.. By the time their father comes to pick them up they don’t want to leave. My point is that this problem is exacerbated by the big Companies that profit off these devices and services. I believe this is the trade-off for freedom. Only the smart ones make the differentiations.

  231. Brian
    Brian says:

    Hi Renee,

    I truly enjoyed your post and the words speak volumes about how we feel about our children. We are actually selling most of our belongings to go out on a two year adventure with our kids traveling through the US. We don’t want to regret not taking the opportunity to do it and want to create memories with them that will last a lifetime. Thanks for the post and hopefully it inspires many more parents to limit the screen time.

  232. Marilyn
    Marilyn says:

    Ma’am, this is phenomenal! I am a mother of three sons and a daughter – now grown, but we shared these values in our home when it was basically just television, computer games and videos which were the main craze. They did not have a phone until they were old enough to work and pay for their own. I admire your choice to build relationships. You are the kind of mom who will be successful in communicating with your children that their heavenly Father truly cares about a personal relationship. Keep up the tremendous parenting!

  233. FRANK
    FRANK says:

    I HATE TO BREAK THIS TO YOU, BUT AS SOMEONE WHO WAS IN MIDDLE SCHOOL BEFORE THE INTERNET WAS READILY ACCESSIBLE….. 78% OF MIDDLE SCHOOL BOYS WERE ADDICTED TO PORN THEN TOO. GETTING PORNOGRAPHIC MATERIALS IS PRETTY MUCH A FULL TIME OCCUPATION FOR MOST BOYS GOING THROUGH PUBERTY. BEFOER THE INTERNET, THERE WERE VIDEO TAPES. BEFORE THAT, THERE WERE MAGAZINES. BEFORE THAT, THERE WERE BOOKS. BEFORE THAT AND BEFORE THAT AND BEFORE THAT ALL THE WAY BACK THROUGHOUT HISTORY. THE TECHNOLOGY HASN’T MADE IT ANY DIFFERENT.

  234. Kristina
    Kristina says:

    Just want to say that this hit me right in the heart. I’ve been feeling like this, but I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. It’s a beautiful reminder! Thank You,
    ~Kristina God Bless

  235. Cammy
    Cammy says:

    A friend passed this on to me and I can’t express how much it moved me. This is how I have always felt and live by. I have 3 boys and last night I told them to get in bed and I had something I wanted to share with them. I explained to them that I did not write this but this is exactly how I feel and I want you to listen like I wrote this to you guys. Thank you for writing it and me being able to share it with my boys.

  236. Trina Licavoli Gunzel
    Trina Licavoli Gunzel says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your letter. I struggle telling my little ones know when they want to use them to zone out, but i want them to plug in to their life. We balance electronics with outdoor project based activities and I absolutely notice a difference in their behavior when we have “unplugged” days. I believe technology has a place, but with supervision and guidance. Time limits and supervision of content is so important to not only protect them, but to give them opportunities to think, create, and play! There is something to be said for joyful learning and creating and designing things to play with from materials found in nature. I pray for all of our children that we can have purposeful, meaningful, present experiences with them. This time goes so quickly and we’ll be Skyping with our grandchildren wishing we could hold them more someday! Thank you!

    Trina

  237. Paul
    Paul says:

    It’s sad that today’s children don’t know how to “pretend.” Thank God I grew up in the late 40’s and 50’s when most Moms were at home and nobody worried about their kids being kidnapped–(an over-exaggerated topic with the news media these days, according to Dr. Rosemond!) Hooray for parents who are being parents instead of needlessly struggling to be “friends” with their children before they’re grown! Question: How do all these college students (?) have time to be making calls, playing games, watching TV, and texting when they should be studying like crazy?? Is it any wonder so many end up moving back in with Mom and Pop??

  238. Lorraine
    Lorraine says:

    You are an AWESOME mum! Congratulations, and thankyou for sharing your article with the world. God bless you. xx

  239. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    You so eloquently wrote what I feel so strongly. We also live this way and I KNOW in my heart it is the right thing. I am also impressed with the eloquence and grace that you have handled the comments here. Kudos!

  240. Mya
    Mya says:

    I love this. I now know I am not alone in the eletronics struggle. I do set limits but we push the limits all the time. With summer being here there is a whole world to explore outside. I don’t want to keep my boys from exploring the world and all the things the Lord has placed into it. It really made me think I want to see there face when they see the new things for the first time. Thanks for posting!

  241. Becka
    Becka says:

    I applaud you and I have to say… I’m envious of your strength. I *feel* the same but I give in because it’s easier. I’m robbing my children (and myself) of opportunities to live and love because I’m lazy. It’s hard to admit. But it’s the truth. Even though it disgusts me, I let them spend far too much time with their noses pressed to the screen. 🙁

  242. Robyn
    Robyn says:

    Your post speaks so much to the reasons that we limit electronics. We have daughters and we want them to communicate with their parents (so we can really get to know them and enjoy them), and to communicate with others and grow healthy relationships and eye contact! We truly want to enjoy every moment with them – we see how time is fleeting. We want them to love reading and enjoy so much more that our World has to offer. Your post was beautifully written! These are exactly the kind of men that we want our girls to find! Thank you.

  243. Jenny Johnston
    Jenny Johnston says:

    What a refreshing essay. I’ve never seen your blog, but I really enjoyed this post. I hope to have time to check out some other of your posts soon.

    My husband and I are raising are girls similar to you (except they dont know how to use a computer yet or play video games! They are 6 and 9) We do not own a TV. We have one laptop that lives in a closet most of the time. Our family enjoys being outside camping, hiking and biking better than anything else so we make is a goal to get away every weekend to do something together. I have actually been told that my girls are neglected because we do not participate in sports!

    I have homeschooled them their entire life. I also do not want to miss even one MOMENT with them.

    Our family leaves in 10 days to go on a 7 week bike tour through British Columbia. When we tell people about our trip they say, “Where are the kids girls gonna be?” We say – ON OUR BIKES!!!

    It is so refreshing to know there are others out there like us. I sometimes feel like we live in a bubble, but we are EXTREMELY HAPPY in our bubble, so why not!!

    Thanks for your post.
    Jenny

  244. Colin Cody
    Colin Cody says:

    I wonder if our kids could send the same basic message to us. A lot of parents I see have THEIR noses in their phones checking Facebook, twitter, ESPN etc. Maybe as parents we are not modeling a technology interdependent existence. We yearn for a “like” of our kids pictures on Facebook or need to know the score of the game NOW as opposed to waiting an hour. And because of it, we bury our own heads in our phones hoping for some technology induced “hit” to help us along in our lives. Let’s be honest. What are we modeling?

  245. A. Sutton
    A. Sutton says:

    I also think even if it makes me selfish that I want to know my children’s thoughts now they are adults.(26 and30). What is their take on the world and what are their plans after marriage? What are their goals now they have college educations? Talk to me,. I didn’t allow TV’s in your bedrooms, hand held devices to play games, etc, i sent you to college prep private schools so you would be able to communicate in the real world and anything else I could do to make you successful. I wanted to be able to share ideas and hopefully now you both are grown I hope my selfishness paid off. I feel it did.

  246. Mindi
    Mindi says:

    Nice to know there other parents that feel that way. We have had rules and limits on technology use. Our kids have to earn time on ps3 or other devices. Reading, chores, etc. Working with children it is sad to see the disconnect to others because of technology use. Stained relationships, no communication skills, and lack of interest in other things. Being bored is a part of life. Imagination is lacking in too many children today.

  247. Becky
    Becky says:

    This is so good. I have a friend who said, when she pulls in her driveway, she leaves her phone in the car and doesn’t go get it until after dinner and the children are in bed. Good idea for parents.

  248. Aylie M
    Aylie M says:

    My sister shared this with me as she is two months away from having her first child. This is something she feels very strongly about and I have to say I agree. I am only 24 yrs old and not yet a mother but I was raised with minimal electronics and my ability to imagine and entertain myself flourished. Without those experiences as a kid, I would never have come out of my shell and become engaging with people. I plan to raise my children the same way, hopefully giving them a thirst for knowledge and experiencing reality and life around them. Thank you for so eloquently voicing what many people feel and providing an example to help explain what some of us struggle to put into words for our children, friends, and others.

  249. Julia
    Julia says:

    Thank you, thank you!!! I am sharing this with my children. While my three children, ages 7, 11, & 13, have occasional access to my laptop and kindle fire, they do not have their own electronic devices. I have done this by design. They do feel left out among their peers but I feel that it is in their best interest. You put into words, beautifully, how I feel about this issue.

  250. FrednInIT
    FrednInIT says:

    I agree with your sentiment. In that, children (and some adults) spend two much screen time and not enough face-to-face time. But, also think that there can be an appropriate balance between the screen time and real world time. If, for instance you are at the 2hr baseball practice and the brother would like to play while they are doing calisthenics or conditioning drills… (or driving across Kansas!) fine But, when game is on – nose out of the screen (or book). Witness the moment when Bro hit the homer, caught the winning pop-fly… or struck out – swinging or… missed catching the ball. Both the triumphs and defeats. I agree with the need to be alone with your own thoughts. To develop the necessary concept of ‘self’, the skills to think through a problem, or even to daydream. But, there is also a need to be entertained. In short, there needs to be an appropriate balance between the two.

    I have a follow-up question – that maybe you could answer. So, when *do* you feel it is appropriate to allow them distractions and entertainment? I’m just asking to find out where you feel the balance lies.

    Thanks

    FredInIT

  251. Venus
    Venus says:

    I really appreciate these heartfelt and honest sentiments that you’ve shared with us. And as a mother of two small boys, I also am aware of some of the dangers of too much screen time. Having said that, in my own life, I have a distinct distaste for hypocrisy. I am not in any way shape or form implying that *you* are hypocritical, please don’t hear that. Instead, what I mean is that, for whatever reason, I am not the type of person to sit in a doctor’s office and talk with the person I’m with (husband, children, whomever). I don’t like having personal conversations in front of other people in closely confined spaces, and I’d rather not make innocuous small talk just to fill a silence. So, when I’m in a doctor’s office, I read a book. Sometimes it’s a paper book, sometimes I’m reading my Kindle (e-reader). If my children are with me, I can’t very well ask them to do something I am not willing to do. So in that situation, as they are too young yet to read on their own, we may very well play in some way (phone, ipad).

    When I’m on a long car drive, and I am not the one driving, I often read – unless my job is to talk to the driver to make sure they don’t get sleepy on longer drives. I fully expect my children will do the same when they can hold a book (and assuming they don’t get carsick).

    Even sometimes at home when we need some quiet time, my older son (three) and I will read a book together, or will play together on the ipad, or sometimes he plays a game while I sit next to him reading.

    And, my husband and I have always watched TV when we eat dinner (unless we’re out, or were in the middle of a conversation while cooking that was interesting enough to keep going while eating). We don’t watch a lot of TV, this is some of the only time we do. Sometimes it’s political satire, sometimes it’s a cooking show, or even a murder mystery. Now that the boys are old enough to really pay attention, we’ve cut down on the murder and the political satire, and mostly it’s cooking shows now.

    Since my husband and I enjoy that kind of entertainment, how could I in good conscience deny it to our children (unless also denying it to ourselves, which we may do in the future as our kids spend more time away from home and we don’t have as many opportunities to talk)? We do allow our 3yo to watch cartoons (we control what choices he has) while he eats, though sometimes he enjoys watching what we are. And, when we have guests at the house, we definitely don’t allow cartoon watching during food (or play). We make it a point to say that we don’t play with the ipad when we have guests.

    We also take our kids outside a ton, do projects, etc. They are not always in front of a screen or game. But I think it’s important to make sure that as adults, we don’t ask our kids to do things we wouldn’t be willing to do ourselves. I don’t think that’s something you have to worry about in your family – you don’t strike me as the type to preach but not practice. 🙂

    I think the most important thing is that as parents we do things with intent and aren’t passive as we make decisions about how to raise our children. Carelessness seems to be one of the biggest mistakes a parent can make. I like that your article shows how much you care and think seriously about your kids, and the way you raise them. I hope it inspires others to do so as well!

  252. Renee
    Renee says:

    Venus- I think you make a valid point. We as parents cannot expect anything out of our children we aren’t willing to do ourselves. I do not like hypocrisy either. And my 10 year old in particular calls it out when he sees it, so that wouldn’t fly here anyway 🙂 Each family makes the right decision for them. This letter addresses particular questions my children have asked me. Thanks for your comment. Blessings!

  253. Renee
    Renee says:

    Fred, thank you for commenting. Balance is hard to strike but not impossible. I do believe this balance is different for each family and there is no magic formula. I’m not of the belief that what we practice in our family is the golden rule for all families. I can tell you what we do, but again, I do not say this is the “right” way for every family as each family faces unique schedules and challenges. For us we allow during the school year weekend electronics. Friday one 30 minute session, Saturday and Sunday two 30 minute sessions. Electronics of their choice….tv, iPad (no internet), Wii, handheld game. During the week, we do no electronics. There is generally no time anyway. By the time homework is done, they’ve played outside with friends, had dinner, after school sports, it’s time for bed. During the summer, they are given 30 minutes a day of their choice. We have a firm rule of not allowing devices at restaurants or when we are with other families or friends, including at ballgames and practices. Even if they aren’t entertained, there are people who may talk to them or play with them if they aren’t distracted. And they are fine with this. They accept the rule and move on as they know when they are allowed to play. We allow them on long car rides and ask them to set a timer for 30 minutes. We don’t allow more than 30 minutes any one session. If the car ride is 5 hours, they will get 2 sessions. Hope that helps! Blessings!

  254. School OT
    School OT says:

    As a school based OT I am so heartened to see your note!!! All our children do not need to be zombis to electronics to let us do our work or eat dinner in peace. I see some of the after effects all the time in school!

  255. Jenny L.
    Jenny L. says:

    Any way you look at it, bad parenting is bad parenting. There are many things parents use or give their children that is a disconnect. It can be so many things and not just electronics. I do not think there is such a thing as “quality time.” Kids need “quantity time.” They do grow up so fast and empty nest comes way too soon. I agree that you should limit their screen time. Especially with boys – they love their games; however, I have many friends that were too strict with their kids and did not let them have anything like their peers had and that spells disaster too. You don’t want them to feel so different that it isolates them. Everything in moderation.

  256. Angie
    Angie says:

    Thanks for sharing for loving your boys by making limits. Thanks for your example and inspiration to remind us why it is worth it to make unpopular choices for our kids. Thanks for reminding us of all we are missing out on when we allow so much screen time.

  257. heather beamon
    heather beamon says:

    omy gosh you sound like me .. but I think we must be the only two people saying this stuff…and its getting soo out of control…thank u thanku thank u…but seriously that was great..exactly how I feel.. I miss the old world a lot

  258. Janice
    Janice says:

    Awesome! We limit screen time, but it’s so easy to fall into the trap of allowing technology be a babysitter. My 10 yr. old son struggles with not being allowed to watch all the movies and games his peers do. I printed your letter out for him to read, and for us to have on hand whenever we need a reminder. Some of our pastimes are reading books, learning to do household chores, playing hands on games, and just good ‘ol outdoor play weather permitting. And shopping together can be very educational. 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  259. kirsten
    kirsten says:

    Love Love Love this…. I totally relate. God made us to relate with Him and one another. That can’t happen with a screen in our face 24/7. Thank you!

  260. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    I am that mom as well with my kids ages 10 and 11. We had pleasant surprise from a stranger the other night. Just as we were finishing dinner at a local restaurant, a lady at a nearby table came over and laid down a ten dollar bill. She complemented our family for not having any personal devises while we had been in the restaurant. She told us to keep up the good work and left. I say the same to you!

  261. Patricia Harreld
    Patricia Harreld says:

    I refuse to own any electronic device other than my computer. I am in complete agreement with you. It’s a lesson adults could learn as well. As one writer to another, Brava Renee!

  262. Diane
    Diane says:

    I feel so relieved! I thought I was one of very few in the word who totally limit their kids device/computer time. My eldest has a DS but very rarely asks to play it and when she does it’s limited. My 4yo like to pretend she has one. Car trips under 4 hours are managed with toys, crayons and paper. Over 4 hours I bring the portable DVD player. Drive me CRAZY when I see people going to the grocery store and their kids need to watch a movie for the 5 minute drive. Both my kids are very capable of amusing themselves. My eldest draws beautifully and creates amazing Lego pieces, if she spent her time on a device she would not have learned to love these things. My 4yo loves to “read” and tells amazing stories. Also drives me nuts when I see a mom/dad pushing their child in a stroller or at the park and devoting all their time to their phone. My time with my kids is limited and I want it to be quality. We eat dinner together, we talk, we sing, we play outside (GASP!). Love that I am not the oddity I thought I was!!!

  263. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    Thanks for putting words to my thoughts! Recently, my 3 older kids started sharing the Kindle on car trips when the traffic is slow. My youngest, a 3 yr old asked for it while the two of us were out driving and I nonchalantly agreed. I regretted this decision after when I wanted him to stop to watch his favorite big truck drive by or a deer in a field and he couldn’t put his game down. How easy it is to get used to an electronic babysitter and think this is our “new” normal for the age we live in. It was a good lesson for me. I also agree with Venus, that as adults, we need to make sure we are not pulled into our own electronic world yet expect our kids to go without. There needs to be balance and limits in all things.

  264. Ruthie
    Ruthie says:

    Love your words of wisdom, which are so in-line with our efforts to keep childhood REAL! We advocate for face-to-face and eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart . . . in our parenting guides including the latest, “Face to Face: Cultivating Kids’ Social Lives in Today’s Digital World.” Wish we could have included your lovely letter to your boys in the book; it would have been a perfect match! Thank you for the good work you do in the world!

  265. Ray
    Ray says:

    I like what you wrote. I do take exception to one point only and it has nothing to do with electronics. You wrote “…When you pack up and leave for college, I want to look back with no regrets over the time I spent with you. …” What if God has gifted them as highly skilled tradesmen? The majority of small businesses are owned and operated by tradesmen (not just men, but women too). Many tradesmen earn more than college grades, while not amassing college debts.
    Please keep your boys eyes fixed on the world around them, but please don’t prejudice them against honest and honourable work that may not include a college degree.

  266. sa myo aye
    sa myo aye says:

    It’s really good to know the true reasons for saying no to electronics….. i’m gonna be a father soon and honestly i’ll be applying this to my kid at home. Need to have some limit in using. Thank you for inspiring us thru your lovely writing

  267. Lorna Dsouza Philip
    Lorna Dsouza Philip says:

    Hi Rennee,
    I cant agree with you more. It is so important to set limits and routine for children. in this case u have done so with the eletronics, I too would have been just like u if they were the” in thing” in the early 90`s. I can`t agree with you on how much I have enjoyed moments with my children in their younger days and i would be very upset if I had to be replaced with a gadget. My children are yound adults today and even know when we go out as a family we try not to use these electronics. On a recent holiday that we took, we had no proper internet access and so there was no way of using our phones, etc. and I was so impressed with my young adult children who said, ” we don`t need this stuff we are having such a good time.” God Bless you and your children and thank you for sharing, U`ve said all that I would have loved to say. Thankyou.

  268. Renee
    Renee says:

    Becka- I appreciate your honesty. That takes a great deal of courage to admit our weaknesses and where we feel we fail. You are right it is easier. Maybe begin taking baby steps. Change is always easier when taken in chunks. Try cutting back 30 minutes a day initially. During that time do something together. Take a walk, sit outside and read, work on a collection. There are many simple things. But being intentional and having a plan ahead of time will help you. Replace screen time with something else or you will be tempted to go to the screens. Good luck to you. Blessings!

  269. Rick Martinez
    Rick Martinez says:

    So you don’t say NO to electronics but you make sure the kids don’t indulge into them…you teach self control…that’s good.

    Too bad most parents don’t do this.

    I have the daughters and some of my best moments are just having conversation without devices.

    BUT- some of my best moments are playing games on our devices with my girls…laughing…conversing….and creating memories.

    It is important to find opportunity in any moment and important to think outside the box.

  270. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    Rennee,
    Thank you for having the courage to be different and to teach your children that being different can be a great thing. I have three boys from 11 – 20. We have youth over all the time whose noses are often in their phones even though their friends are sitting all around them! We have tried to be different with when we allow our boys to have a smart phone for many of the reasons stated by you and others. Our oldest got one at the end of high school. Our middle one just finished his junior year and is really pushing for one. Even all of our 6th grader’s friends have them. I like your reminders of your rules of use rather than saying no all together especially with summer now here. We recently moved our 6th graders Xbox time to the end of the day instead of off and on all day and what a difference it has made in how he acts, plays, and responds. I need to remotivate myself because it is hard to take a stand and hard to enforce limits and be ok with boredom. I also need to be a better example with my own phone! Thank you for the reminders! My boys have often felt they’re the only ones without a device in their hands and it’s good to know others feel the same!
    Cathy

  271. Rachel Talavera
    Rachel Talavera says:

    This is the most amazing letter and explanation for limiting electronics. I have three boys and we also limit their electronics – but the manner in which you described the reasons you do this was absolutely amazing. I live in Costa Rica and am in the process of translating your letter to share it with my friends that don’t speak English, the parents of my children’s classmates and the pastor of our church. Amazing – incredible amazing!!!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  272. Jenny
    Jenny says:

    My kids get so angry at me when I will not allow electronics at their siblings sports games or at doctors offices or at family meals out. You are so right. I am glad their are other parents who feel the same way. Thank you for this article.

  273. Mildred Huff
    Mildred Huff says:

    I started to say may the Lord bless you. But I know he already has. It is great to know someone thinks like I do. My son has two sons and one is married now, the other one is 15 and spends too much time playing games etc. I would appreciate your prayers for him.
    It is great to know there is a mother in the world like.

  274. Sheryl Martins
    Sheryl Martins says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! I am so happy that I am not the only mother that say’s NO to electronics. My son is only 11 and he tells me that all his friends are plugged in, all the time. I can’t stand it and I refuse to give in. I can’t wait to share this letter with him. You have put all my feelings in words and I hope that by reading this, he will understand. At least a little.
    Thank you again!!!

  275. michelle
    michelle says:

    It is so reassuring to know there are others who feel similarly. I am not yet a mother; but I know how I plan to raise my kids. I grew up with technology (computer, nintendo, all that was popular in the 90s); however, I always chose to go out and play with my friends or talk with my family instead. I hope my future kids will feel the same. I recall going to a friends house for a party, her kids were in the back room with a few other kids – each with their own ds or ipad. I talked and played with the kids for a bit (without their devices) but they refused to come out and socialize with everyone else in the livingroom. It saddened me that the kids actually wanted real social interaction b/c they loved joking around and our tickle fight; but they wouldn’t leave the room to socialize more. I want my kids to appreciate life and absorb it; be thankful for the world we life in and for each person/thing in it.. I am fearful and realistic – nowadays, its so easy to slip into the technology world. It just takes determination and willingness to avoid getting on the bandwagon. People need to see/realize the beauty of a simple smile and the joy it can bring to others; there are so many little things in life that can make one happy, one just has to open up his/her eyes to see it. Thank you for your letter.

  276. Rachelle
    Rachelle says:

    I thank you for this, teaching your children respect and socialization. Parenting is not for the weak. The horror of seeing a father out to dinner with his two young children (about 10 & 12), who both had on headphones while watching a movie on their individual i-pads at the table, was confirming enough of my choices in limiting my 4 children and their electronics.

  277. Allison B
    Allison B says:

    I also limit my kids and myself with technology. As a blogger it would be so easy to be on the computer or my phone all the time but I limit it. We don’t go out to eat often, but when we do we talk to eachother, just like at home. it usually shocks people when they discover that we don’t even own a tablet. I don’t see why we need one at this point in time. My kids use my computer to play games so they’re exposed, just not without limits. Thanks for writing this. I feel like the only mom in my circle who views technology this way, it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  278. Sam
    Sam says:

    I believe in balance. I believe in family value and choice. All families are different which is what makes this a wonderful place. I also believe that judging another is not okay. I have children ranging in age of 27 to 13. My 13 year old has been more exposed to this new electronic tech world. She has things her siblings didnt have at their age because of this and our financial situation being able to afford it. We has been taught balance. Academically she is thriving, give 100% plus some, she holds a job working for friends of the family, she shows respect to her family, friends, teachers, ect. She plays on her phone, uses it to call people, reads from her nook, goes out and plays outside like I did when I was a kid, sits and has conversations with us at dinner. She recently made a decision to close down all her social media ~ including texting because she has had some issues with some kids not being so nice to her ~ she thinks that plays a role in it ~ being so easy to hide behind a screen. I was and am so very proud of her for being able to make this hard decision at this age of peer pressure.
    What I am saying with all this to those saying no tech is the way to a perfectly rounded family is the way to go ~ and the rest of us who choice to have it are not doing the best at our parenting skills ~ you are wrong. I am with the crowd of those saying find balance, know when to say no, and when to say yes. And allow the child to have some choice. Renee I know you are not saying no electronics ~ This more goes out to those saying their way is the correct way to raise a child. Their childhood does go quickly ~ so to enjoy them while they are young is precious. To not have their face hidden in a screen is important. Having family guidelines is important. Being their for our children is important. Balance…….Is important.

  279. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    Renee,
    Thank you for having the courage to be different and to teach your children that being different can be a great thing. I have three boys from 11 – 20. We have youth over all the time whose noses are often in their phones even though their friends are sitting all around them! We have tried to be different with when we allow our boys to have a smart phone for many of the reasons stated by you and others. Our oldest got one at the end of high school. Our middle one just finished his junior year and is really pushing for one. Even all of our 6th grader’s friends have them. I like your reminders of your rules of use rather than saying no all together especially with summer now here. We recently moved our 6th graders Xbox time to the end of the day instead of off and on all day and what a difference it has made in how he acts, plays, and responds. I need to remotivate myself because it is hard to take a stand and hard to enforce limits and be ok with boredom. I also need to be a better example with my own phone! Thank you for the reminders! My boys have often felt they’re the only ones without a device in their hands and it’s good to know others feel the same!
    Cathy

  280. Katherine
    Katherine says:

    Amen. Just out of curiosity, how old are your boys? When do you allow them to go TV/Games/etc.?

    I did an experiment with my 4 year old a few months back, and was shocked at the difference one week without TV made. It was really eye- opening, and I felt like I got my sweet innocent boy back, after months of struggle… and almost immediately. (I posted my experience and story about it here, http://www.chroniclesofmomia.com/category/parenting-lessons/my-tv-ditching-experiment/ … because I was so surprised with how dramatic of a change it was. My sister did the same thing with her kiddos and had the same result.
    But still … it is nice to be able to put something on for the kiddos every once in a while… so I’ve swung both ways with this … but feel like with all things, there is a middle ground, not a legalistic forbidding of TV, but something that is there, but we’re “not being mastered by it”… it seemed like you alluded to that … so I was just curious where games / TV Shows / electronics etc fit into your day / life with your boys?

  281. Becca
    Becca says:

    SO REFRESHING, to read this article. I am a mom to two girls and a step-mom to three boys. All the kids live with us and I am a firm believer in device/screen limiting. I have been called so many bad names (by my in-laws and the boys’ mom and her family) because I limit the device time for ALL the children in my house. But my house is a place where we gather around the table to eat dinner every night and we TALK. My home is a place where you can hear people playing musical instruments to pass the time, where you can see kids reading books to pass the time. My home is a place where ALL my kids come to me and ask questions, seek advice, tell jokes and KNOW that I have the time to hear them and spend with them.

    The funny thing is that I have a great relationship with ALL the kids in my house. Better than those people that think I am a big old wicked stepwitch for limiting device time. There are many people in the boys’ lives who let them device all they want….and then there is my home. The boys tell me that they know that this is their home because there is time for them here and because they know we are looking out for them and paying attention to what they are doing. ALL of the kids in my house will step out into the real world knowing how to pass the time without devices and they will also know how to use devices (because they all have them….they just don’t HAVE to be on them all the time).

    Saying no to our kids is okay. I actually think they kind of love it when we force them to spend time with us (but don’t tell them I said so!).

  282. Elaine
    Elaine says:

    THANK YOU! This is EXACTLY what I’ve been feeling, and is keep trying to explain to my son, every time he balks at me limiting his screen time, I can go blue in the face talking about the damage it’s doing to his brain with its short term rewards, or the addictive properties of video games, etc…,but it boils down to my desire to LIVE these years with him, to grow plants together, and talk about life, and build things together, and share this short time we have together,

  283. Terry
    Terry says:

    You are so right on. More Mom’s and Dad’s need to take this stand. These kids are the future and need to be aware of what is going on around them. Thank you for taking a stand.

  284. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    I raised my kids in the 80’s like one of the other mom’s. We chose not to allow the kids to have TV’s, phones ( land line) or computers in their rooms. If they needed to use any of these items, it was the one the whole family used, in the family living room.
    The bigger problem today is the parents have their faces in the phones rather than being with their kids.
    I remember one time, my daughter was at band practice, and my two sons and I were waiting in the school parking lot for her to finish. Their entertainment was playing cup ball in the parking lot while we waited. We landed up haveing to go to the doctor for stitches, but the whole remembered experience was better than if I had tried to force them to stay in the van.
    I am glad there are still parents who realize the importance of engaging and actually raising their kids.

  285. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    Bravo, Talking about “swimming against the tide”! My boy are 31,30,27,25,22,14, and we limited being “plugged in” in their growing up years. Sat morning, for an hour was play on the computer time. When my oldest were young there was no PC’s, but as they got in their teens we decided we would never let them neglect the great out doors, family time, reading or playing with each other for electronics. Height of rudeness is plugging in to a device while you are with other people. What a warped generation.

  286. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    Sheryl, it is going to harder before it gets better, 11 -14 is the hardest. Kids can’t see the forest from the trees. HANG TOUGH!!!! Someday he’ll thank you….mine did. Mother of 6 sons, 31,-14

  287. Harsha Puttagunta
    Harsha Puttagunta says:

    Renee! That was beautiful. I am a dad and all feel the same. But one day my sin came to me with a sad face with almost tears dripping and when I asked what’s wrong he said I am scared. He is just 6. So I got him to sit in my lap and asked him what’s wrong. Is it the fight with the sister over the toys and he says no. He said he is scared that he will never know how to use computer or a phone or a tablet. So I laughed and gave him a hug and told him that I know computers very well and I can teach him in few days every thing he needs to know about all of them. The next minute he forgot about the stuff and started fighting about the toys with the 2 sisters.

  288. Rose Leao
    Rose Leao says:

    I totally agree with you. You are soooo right! My son in law works for EA creating all these games the kids love so much nowadays and he is the first not to let my grandson to be playing with the. iPhone, ipad, etc, also his tv time is very limited. He knows how addictive and harmfull the electronics games can be. He knows how much time they take from the lives of the kids today. In good dosages they are interesting and stimulating but there are so many other things for kids to do, electronics could be just a small part of their lives. Congrats on your beautiful letter.

  289. rich ferrick
    rich ferrick says:

    Thanks Renee–I feel sad when I’m one of the few in my JC class that is not playing with and I-pad or I-phone. It used to make me mad but then I realized these young men and women were weaned on electronic distraction. Your words will help turn the tide, but what an uphill battle….

  290. Eve Bodeux
    Eve Bodeux says:

    Thanks for sharing this and letting me know that I am NOT the only one that feels like this. I could have written your letter (well, perhaps not so elegantly). Thanks for your conviction and sharing!

  291. Eve
    Eve says:

    Well, I disagree that she was judging others. It is a FACT that most of our society lets their children do this. Even adults do it! I think that puts a lot of pressure on those of us who don’t want to let our kids be on video games so much….it makes US seem different. That seems to me the impetus for why she needed to write the letter – to her kids but also for herself, since her approach is different from much of society. I see it as not a judgement but an (accurate) observation. Looking around, I DO see kids EVERYWHERE on video games…

  292. Christi
    Christi says:

    I haven’t read all 300+ comments but I did feel somewhat judged by most of what I did read. Yup, we are that family who’s kids waiting for food are playing iPads, my boy plays it when he is waiting on his sister to be done with dance class and yes even at the recital although he did have to put it away for his sisters dance. My girl doesn’t play nearly the same amount of time but she does use it to fill time when she has to wait. I much prefer that over a temper tantrum. Here is what people can’t see. My son has Autism. He is bright and verbal and very much able to participate in life but he still has struggles. Loud places are hard for him so often if we are where it is loud and busy he is playing an electronic of some kind. We occasionally go to NBA games and yes, even there he will often “check out” for a while. Doing this allows us to all participate in activities as a family while balancing his individual needs. He often socializes through apps on his ipad. He and his sister have been playing a ton of minecraft. They talk together about what they are building, where to go and what to do next. They interact far more through this electronic app then any other activity we have found. My only point here is to not assume that when you see a child out and about when an electronic device that the parents don’t want to interact with them or want them to experence life. Sometimes allowing the electronic ALLOWS the parent to connect with their child and have the child participate in activities they wouldn’t otherwise be able to take part in.

  293. Jeremy
    Jeremy says:

    Thank you! You gave a lot of words to what my wife and I have been feeling but have left unspoken. Distraction is a great destroyer of relationship. We need reality in our kids and not zombified brains in atrophied bodies. Thank you for this post! May God bless!

  294. Sherry
    Sherry says:

    AMEN! I am a Computer Apps teacher for grades 9-12. They ask me all the time why I don’t have an Iphone, Ipod, or tablet. I tell them I have better things to do when I get home, like read, hike, bike. I also allow no phone or Ipods in my class unless the assignment calls for it. I tell them my diploma does not say Bachelor or phone police or Bachelor of playing Internet games in class. It quite proudly states that I have a Bachelor of Education and that’s what I intend to do for the 70 minutes they’re in my class. I try to instill in them self-discipline, meaning there is a time and place for electronic devices and they need to learn it.

    I have students who hardly say 10 words to me the entire semester because they have NO communication skills and they can’t function unless they have “ear buds” glued to their ears.

    It’s quite a disheartening generation! Keep up what you’re doing!

  295. Peaceful
    Peaceful says:

    The general message, although a little judgemental, is nice.
    I’ve raised my kids not to rely on electronics as a constant in their lives. I assume most involved parents do the same.
    No one told me to do this. It’s just common sense.

  296. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Wow. My feelings exactly, put so beautifully into words. My daughter is an only child and I’m a single mom so when I’m busy, she’s really on her own. I love to see all the things she comes up with to do, instead of sit in front of a screen! And I love listening to her sing softly to herself. Sometimes she makes me insane grasping for my attention but it’s totally worth it.

  297. Renee
    Renee says:

    Peaceful-I’m sorry you felt the tone was judgmental. I disagree that most involved parents do not allow electronics as a constant in their lives. That statement feels judgmental to me. Just because a parent allows electronics to become a crutch does not mean they are not involved. That is an unfair assessment. I also disagree that it’s common sense. If you read through the comments, you will quickly see this is not common sense. It may be a reminder, however. Blessings!

  298. LeeAnne Matusek
    LeeAnne Matusek says:

    Great blog on Boys and no electronics. I think it can apply to girls as well but as a Mom of three boys, it was what I needed to read right now! Thanks.

  299. Mike Liebler
    Mike Liebler says:

    I agree dinner time is a special time for the family to get together and be as one. We need to value our time as a family and not divide it up by individuals isolating themselves while hiding their faces in a screen during dinner. Studies have shown the benefits of family dinner time for kids. hasbehttp://theyouthculturereport.com/?s=dinner

  300. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    I am a grandmother now with eleven grandchildren. When my youngest child was nine years old we got our first computer and the computer games — very primitive. I remember so well thanking God that I had nine years with my youngest before this happened. I had trouble controlling computer usage then. I can only imagine the difficulty now with so many devices. I see my grandchildren (not all of them) with something in their hands most of the time. Thank you for the reminder that there is a better life to be lived than the one with a device in our hands or a screen in our face.

  301. Miken
    Miken says:

    I have two cute creative girls with wild imaginations……we need to hook our kids up when they r older. Thank you for believing and making amazing men for daughters like mine. I pray every night that they will find someone unplugged. God bless you!!!

  302. Mark
    Mark says:

    Renee,
    I applaud and concur with your concerns. I am so happy you voiced them as well! I am a 30-yr old Navy Vet who was raised in the time when families would sit down together and pray before the meal and there was no TV or radio in the dining room… Cell phones were non-existent or too expensive(they still are). And it was exactly that, Family Time! Talk about how school went, what did we learn, yes, parents truly knew their kids back then. Now, iPads, tablets, tv’s and cell phones are cheap babysitters and just keep their kid’s mouths shut! So, so sad, these broken homes from the inside-out basically restricting children at a young age from learning empathy, love, compassion and just how to listen… Pray for our youth and continue to be the voice proclaiming truth! Mark McDonald

  303. Shannon
    Shannon says:

    I feel this way. We live in a cold weather climate so I am more apt to let my 7 yr old watch some TV when it’s icky outside, but we do not own a tablet or smartphone and he doesn’t use the computer. We also do not have cable or anything fancy on the TV. The one thing I do let him stay busy with if needed (say, while in the car or at dr) is books. We are a reading family and occasionally I do have to tell him to put the book down, but honestly, I’d prefer his nose be stuck in that than any electronic device.

  304. Vivien
    Vivien says:

    Thank you soooo much. I will translate that for my children. Well written, better than I could express it.
    It strengthens me to know that I´m not the only one fighting this fight every day.

  305. Sandeep Shrivastava
    Sandeep Shrivastava says:

    Renee, Most of the parents of all social backgrounds are facing this issue but some realize sooner and some later. Many of us choose to look other way and start blaming other factors sometimes like education system, our government, society, each other in family etc but we hardly realize that actually our life style is causing these issues.
    I read it completely and encouraged my 13 year old son also to read it completely and I am happy, because he just loved reading this post!! Which itself give me some comfort that he has alteast acknowledged and will follow some of it in future. Well articulated…..very interesting read indeed….thanks a lot!!!

  306. Jodi Pollack
    Jodi Pollack says:

    Raising my 3 year old son in the exact same way, and I completely agree! Thus far it has been that big of a deal, I don’t think my son has really noticed all that much, I’m sure that will change as he gets older though. The single thing he loves to do most is get outside and play (which makes this mom very very happy), when we go on car rides he notices the scenery, the trucks on the road and the world around him. When we go to the store he takes his little shopping cart and shops right along with me, when we go to the restaurant I’m probably the only parent there who packs up a box of matchbox cars, stickers and crayons. One of the things I love most is when a child his age who is waiting with his I-Pad, notices that my son is playing with his waiting toy and puts the I-Pad down to join him. More often than not it’s the parents who are astonishing that their child was interested in such toys and that they actually held their attention and interest for the long wait. Those are my shining moments. I have found other parents excuses for consuming their children with technology to be ridiculous and without merit. Even though my 3 year old has been extremely limited in his technology use he can still work my husbands smart phone when given the opportunity, the same with the computer, he also knows how to use the credit card machine at the store and a million other devices simply because they are a part of society a part of his world. I’m not worried in the least that he will be technology illiterate because I didn’t let him play video games. I’ve already seen the result of those children who have been consumed by it and frankly it’s a depressing future. Technology is a tool nothing more, it shouldn’t be life.

  307. Carlitos Bostic
    Carlitos Bostic says:

    I thought my wife and I were the only parens who think/thought like this. Thank you for sharing. This will be a tough war to win, especially since the little battles are daily fights. Outdoors seem to be a strange wilderness to my 9 year old son. My 16 year old daughter said she cannot live without her i-phone… So we are slowly taking her off of it, just to see what/how she reacts to it-to show her the dependance she has for it… Awesome piece!!!

    Carlitos & Yolanda Bostic

  308. Karolina
    Karolina says:

    Dear Renee,
    Not often the written word chokes me up like your beautiful and powerful letter did. I am a mom of two boys – 4 and 6.5 years old and am staring to learn the hard way how strongly the young brains are affected by exposure to iPads and computers. In my son’s case, what started as innocent apps, which were supposed to help with writing letters and spelling simple words, became a full blown addiction to the screen and it happened almost instantly. It manifested itself as unusual aggression, mood swings, diminishing creativity and lack of interest in anything not related to the screen. You would think we let it happen by keeping child in front of the screen for hours daily … Not at all. It was never longer than an hour. My gut feeling was that it is just not right, but at the same time I knew that the most of this time was spent on some school related activities. More over, the new principal in our 960 API public school is a huge advocate of technology, eagerly spending most of PTA money on computers and iPads with ultimate goal to reach 1:1 ratio of students:electronic devices.
    I honestly do not see a point nor a need for spending so much money on electronics, while there is no money for art and music not to mention a proper PE. But I had trust that the educators know what they are doing.I am afraid it was a wrong assumption. The tipping point was when I have realized that the bad behaviour of my son correlated quite well with the time spent on the screen at school even after we had already banned the iPad time at home. I then have learned that the screen time at school was not supervised and was mainly devoted to some “educational” games which cause the hormonal imbalance of the brain pretty much the same way as other computer games do.
    The school year is almost over and there is not much I can do at this point. However, as much as I admire the “free range” philosophy of parenting, the next year I will be watching my son’s 2nd grade teacher very closely demanding limited and structured screen time for my son if necessary.
    With warm regards,
    Karolina

  309. Nadeen gayle
    Nadeen gayle says:

    Can you please contact me. I am a literary agent and would like to speak to you. Thanks. Awesome letter!!

  310. Carrie
    Carrie says:

    My boys are grown .. But a wealthy friend of mine came for Christmas one year and felt bad for my boys ,she thought we couldn’t afford to buy them x-box / game boy.. So she bought them one.. It was all you said above..And my boys understood as well when we returned it..

  311. Shahin
    Shahin says:

    Thanks for sharing!! This is the best letter I have read for long time. Please keep sharing.

    shahin

  312. logan p
    logan p says:

    hi, i am a 14 year old boy, and my mom recently ( in February or March) put a rule against all electronics for thursday and tuesday every week all year ( i believe ) and i had thought that this was crazy. ( the electronics are phone, kindle, ipod, tv, xbox, laptop, etc. ) i do have a brother though. But reading this helped me realize what it was all about! thankyou so much. I thought of the negative things like, oh it is the same as being grounded and she is only punishing us. This is because she loves me. and now that summer is nearing it is time for more memories. you are such a good parent and i would love to be like you when i am a dad 🙂 this is truly inspiring 🙂 i teared up… and i do get all a’s, and am an all honor student heading to the 9th grade, but plays frequent electronics. plus she did not get me and my brother when my mom and dad divorced. So she missed out on so many moments. when it was the summer after 5th grade… i decided to move to my moms, i have an amazing step-dad there to, mike! drag racer mike demayo. i look up to him on so much. he is also inspiring and so are both all my parents. teaching me so much! THANK YOU again :))))))

  313. Robert Kyle
    Robert Kyle says:

    Great post. myself and my siblings were brought up with a limit on TV, of course there were no such things as cell phones back then. I agree with what your post with one HUGE exception. ” I welcome all comments, but if you plan to comment in a negative or nasty way, it will be discarded.” You welcomes ALL comments, hardly. I can certainly understand deleting a “nasty” comment but to delete one which is negative towards your point of view, or that you disagree with, well, in my opinion that is just wrong.

  314. Renee
    Renee says:

    Robert, thank you for your comment. I did not say I would delete comments that held a different viewpoint. Scrolling through the comments for 10 seconds you will quickly find I did not do this. I welcome opposing viewpoints as many have been very enlightening. I said I would delete negative and nasty comments. I have received some very shocking comments that have no place on this blog. If your comment attacks me as a person, I will disallow. Use language that is offensive, I will disallow. I never said I would not welcome comments that I disagreed with. If your comment respectfully states your opinion, it is more than welcome. No matter if it agrees with me or not. I do not hold a position of having the “right” answer. This is my opinion held for my family. All comments welcome if spoken with respect and love towards all people. Blessings!

  315. Connie King
    Connie King says:

    Renee, Thank you. you are one of the few moms I have seen that does not shove a toy / tech junk into her child’s hands to have ” Me Time”. As a family we see the disconnect in families all around us. It sometimes is frightening to me. Celebrate every moment with your kids! I do and I know I will never lookover my should and say “If only” I should of”
    Thank you Lord for your blessings you give us everyday through our families!

  316. Rochelle Miguel
    Rochelle Miguel says:

    Renee – My children are older and we were lucky to have not had all of the technology available while they were growing up. Cell phones were just coming on the scene and video games and computers did not enter our home until around 2000. I have four children. They played outside and used their imaginations to occupy themselves. They never really asked why they did not have a hand held game or cell phone. My youngest grew up more in the technology world, but he was still in high school (2009) when he got his first cell phone (he still has the same phone, no internet, no video games on it, he can text)) and that was because of practice changes after school. There is still only one t.v. in the house and it is in the family room. I do not believe in televisions in the bedrooms. Please hold true to yourself. Your children will be forever grateful that you did.

  317. KC
    KC says:

    As Dory asked Nemo “Are you my conscious?” I am printing this out and giving this to my children! Are you the fly on MY wall! You and I-Parents with guts! Love it!

  318. Donna
    Donna says:

    Just because kids play on iPads, phones, or a DS doesn’t mean that they’re not getting a lot of good quality time with their parents and family. There are plenty of hours in the day and this is just one of many activities that can be part of a kid’s day. You and so many of the commenters on here make this a very black-and-white issue and come off sounding very judgmental. This article is full of insinuations that are unfair and hurtful to parents who have a more moderate approach to electronic devices who let their kids use these devices with responsible limits and in appropriate places. Reading this left me feeling sad, a little mad, and defensive, the opposite of what your blog title says is the intent of your writing. I’m really not inspired at all. (I understand you probably won’t publish this because it disagrees with you, but I still wanted to respond.)

  319. Gwen Dear Halsey
    Gwen Dear Halsey says:

    Renee, SMALL WORLD! Just saw this on a friend’s FB page from Evansville, IN. I immediately came here to read what you wrote. Congrats on your success and how God has and is blessing you! Totally agree on your take on electronics and am raising my kids the same in this regard! Hi to the family! All the best- Gwen

  320. Dawn
    Dawn says:

    I hope my daughter gets to marry one of YOUR boys! It is so scary to think that how other people parent will affect our own children in the future! I completely agree with everything you are doing…thank you for being one more great parent and for encouraging others to do the same!

  321. Kelsey
    Kelsey says:

    I thought most educated folks would know that the AAP recommends against ANY screens before 2 yrs old. It astonishes me every time when parents/friends try to calm their small child with a screen.

  322. Trish
    Trish says:

    Dear Renee,
    i completely agree whole heartedly.children as young as they are don’t need even cell phones le alone walking around with them. when my son was little computer games were just comming out.
    nintendo was the big hit.That is as close as to computer games my son got at that time. it was never kids waling around with the cell phones, or video things. Sp i can imagine gosh how hard it must be for the moms today. For the moms that limit the device usage. i say kudos for them. a big amen and congragulations. its bad enough you can’t even talk to an adult on the street to ask directions without them having the cel phone to their ears. and now children only do what they see the grown ups do.
    So again i say congratualtions to the mom who limits.

    may God bless
    Trish

  323. Barb Choma
    Barb Choma says:

    First, let me dry my tears! Now, I’d never imagine in this day & age , I’d hear another mother with the same values, thoughts , desires & true love for their children, to not be afraid nor ashamed to go against “society”, just because that’s what so many parents do!
    I applaud you and 100% agree with Every word you wrote. My son’s are both adults now, and I’m 53 years young :). Yet, when I took my younger son out to eat every 2 wks on payday, he simply knew to turn his cell phone off the minute we arrived to the restaurant! !!!! I can even remember one time he slipped up and forgot, and received a text message from a friend. He automatically
    picked up the phone and replied. Then, it was at that moment, he looked up, realizing what he had done, by the mear look on my face. Before I could even comment, he looked me right in the eyes and said, ” I’m sorry mom, I forgot to turn off my phone, & out of habit I text my friend back”.
    It was at that moment, I knew I had done something right! We don’t have to allow our children to do things, just because, like I dreadfully hear from so many parents then and today, “That’s just how kids are today”! Nothing irritates me more then to hear that. I say and Believe, it’s called laziness & selfishness on the side of some parents today! !!!!!!!!
    I thank you for writing this, and moreso for sharing it with us all! Obviously it was eloquently written, but more importantly, shows, as I do also, how much you truly LOVE your children. I have no regrets that I did the same thing. Mainly because my youngest son, in his 4th year in college, told me that he was not only happy with his life, but also happy with the person he’s become and said, ” Mom, I know it’s mainly because of you”.
    I’m so blessed to have heard those words, that despite being recently diagnosed with cancer, even if I left this Earth tomorrow, I’ll know my most important job was done right! It wasn’t becoming an RN at 43, or all the lives I may have saved, it’s the lives I created that are what I consider my best accomplishment and lasting legacy! !!!!
    With much respect and gratitude,
    Barb Choma

  324. Beth
    Beth says:

    Hi Renee, I was so encouraged to read your article. I have purposefully restricted screen time for my children since they were very little as I recognised the dangers. They do watch movies and have time for games but it is la set amount during the week. I have one son and two daughters, my son is nearly 10 and it has got increasingly harder to manage the strong draw and pull to computer games for him. My daughters are younger but I think it is not going to be such an issue for them somehow. I think the effect of screen time is one of the greatest challenges in parenting today. I see through my work some of the the effects that excessive computer games have on teenagers on their mental health and functioning and it is so scary. Thankyou for writing this, it has encouraged me and helped me try and maintain boundaries to protect my son. To know there are other Mothers out there who also recognise these dangers and can communicate them is so encouraging to me

  325. Jenae
    Jenae says:

    Renee, I just found your letter via my “The iPad is stealing my son’s childhood post”. This is so beautiful and a great reminder to us, as parents, to live in the moment as well. Thank you for sharing!!!

  326. Heather
    Heather says:

    I also agree with Beth. I am a mother of twin 3 year olds. Even though times are chaotic, I enjoy every second with them (as you do with your kids, Renee) . I do crafts with them everyday. We experiment in the kitchen. I am a stay -at-home mom but I don’t have any help and my husband works late hours so sometimes I let them play with their Leap Pads while I cook their dinner. I find it more interactive and use of their brains then just TV. Also, it is the type of thing where if they are occupied I have the time to cook them a healthy meal rather then getting fast food or making something frozen.

    I think I dine out 2x a month with them and my husband just because it is tough to keep them entertained long so I do let them play with their leap pads so I can actually enjoy my meal and not inhale it. They are at that age where they are not going to sit and wait for us to finish our meal. I am sure when they get older it will be a different story and I will want to have more of family conversations. But for now them playing on their Leap pads for 20 minutes 2x a day gives me a break so I don’t go bonkers and lose my patience with them. I am home alone with them from 7am til 9pm and if I don’t take care of me sometimes with a break I wont be able to take care of them. I think if you just spent 3 hours playing with your kid and you both need a 20 minute break to go on the computer it is OK.

    As you see I keep on mentioned Leap Pads because I did not get them ipads or any tablet yet. They can’t get online with what they have but many 3 yr olds or even younger kids do. That I feel is too much. I don’t even want one myself because all I see at playgrounds today are parents texting or on their tablets as their kids are climbing up slides! The parents need the limit and control too. Kids follow what their parents do.

    The key to most of anything is moderation. And in the case for tablets and smart phones what is right all depends on the childs age and what you are using it for and the time limit. US parents too have to let go of our phones and Facebook postings and actually spend time with our kids too!

  327. Janet
    Janet says:

    Sometimes I feel like we are the only Americans that wont allow these electronics in our home. I have no tv we have a computer my kids can learn how to use them for research and sometimes to watch shows since we don’t have tv. We go to the library and read books and get movies. We really like to build our own library by buying books for us and our kids in the future. I grew up when this whole technology world was evolving but I didn’t have anything so I read and read. It was truley amazing having adventures in a book and learning at the same time. I’m 25 most people I know my age cannot read or don’t have the patience to. My kids will only have phones if they begin to work and i will allow them to keep my phone for when they have practice. But even sports are limited because I watch how people put their kids in sports and are running like crazy back and forth to practices and games while complaining how they are never home and are stressed. I would love for my kids to play sports but not all of them at once and all year long. There is so much for them to experience. I love taking my daughter to go see things like old forts and battle grounds. I want to educate them and show them their country and teach them to be helpful to the people around them while bonding with them.

  328. Janet
    Janet says:

    Thats really not fair to her since she was not attacking anyone. This was to her children not to you or anyone else. Its okay for people to feel like they have someone understand how they feel since so much of us who did respond most likely feel we are going completely opposite what the world is doing and this is normally the response we get from the people around us. We should be respectful of other people’s wants in their own lives and I think she was very well respectful.

  329. Terra
    Terra says:

    When I read your blog post, I felt so much relief knowing that at least one other mom of boys out there had the same views as I do about electronic devices. And now after scrolling through all these replies from other moms who also feel the same, I feel even more resolute to stand my ground. I feel like if nothing else, my boys will have the ability to purposefully look at their world and appreciate all they see and experience. I pray that my boys will one day see the value in how we have raised them. It’s so tough, but knowing there are others out there parenting the same way is such a great encouragement to me.

  330. None
    None says:

    Beautiful. I would like to add this…I am an older person who does not feel the need to be constantly connected to folks with electronics. I absolutely hate it when at our family functions everyone, children and adults are all on their devices….i believe this to be the height of rudeness. I think that if they do not want to communicate with me I will leave!

  331. katy
    katy says:

    Thank you for saying what I feel. This is such a struggle, in our homes and in our community. I printed your letter to share with our family. This is so important, and even though not popular, nor easy to reinforce, it is critical. Ive been the electronic battle since day one, but eventually I’ve given in to the peer pressure of one device after another, as it is the norm and everyone has it-does it mentality. I don’t want my kids to feel robbed, or cheated but look what they get? It really is brain candy and very addicting for some children and adults. And the obesity epidemic is totally connected to this ~sit and stare at the screen instead of getting up and moving! Kids are so overweight! At the end of the day, it’s creating a new generation, which we are already sadly aware of! On a positive note, I think many families do a great job of balancing electronics, out door activities and sports, play time, fine arts and academics, along with their spiritual life. Their kids are in good shape, polite, intelligent, creative, and they know how to use technology the way it was intended! That’s what I’m hoping for! Great article! Thanks for the reminder! God bless!

  332. joyce
    joyce says:

    While I agree wholeheartedly with this, I DO know some mommies that BLOG and FACEBOOK all the time also~Practice what you preach adults!!

  333. Denveroliver126@gmail.com
    Denveroliver126@gmail.com says:

    Im a son that just read this and had NO idea that’s how moms felt. I’m just about to put my IPad down and go talk to her and see how her days been.

  334. Renee
    Renee says:

    Your comment melted me. Of all the comments I’ve received, this one touches me deeply. Yes, we moms feel this way. Very much. You must have made your mom’s day today. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  335. Renee
    Renee says:

    Joyce, thank you for your comment. Yes, I agree, this goes both ways. However, my particular post wasn’t intended to address all issues with electronics. Just my heart towards my boys. In my case, I blog twice a week. It takes me less than an hour to write a blog post, which is 2 hours a week, and I write when my boys are in bed or in school. I check FB when they are in bed or involved in other activities. The electronics issue has many facets to explore. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Blessings!

  336. Sandra Larsen
    Sandra Larsen says:

    AMEN!!! This letter needs to attached to EVERY electronic device sold. Or somehow make every parent or guardian made to read before purchasing. I am guilty as charged. I bought my grandchildren ipads for Christmas. Thankfully their parents are good about monitoring time. But the children still ask for them ALL the time. I Love Love this letter. No truer or better words spoken. God bless you and your family.

  337. Heather
    Heather says:

    LOVE your heart here. It’s so beautiful and so needed in this world. I admit I didn’t read all of the comments.. so maybe this has been addressed.. but I do want to be the voice who says this-
    My three sons are all at different places on the autism spectrum. We play HARD at home. Outside and inside. My boys are imaginative, creative, and full of energy… but they go to many doctor appointments and sometimes the anxiety is high. Often the DS at the waiting room is the only thing keeping them from total meltdown, and often it’s the first time they’ve held their DS since the last appt. For our family, that DS Mario game helps keep boys who are terrified, focused on something outside of themselves in order to keep them calm for an evaluation. They rarely play them at home, and never in the car. While I know we aren’t the ‘norm’, I do want to throw our situation out there.. you never know what you are looking at when you see what you think you see. 🙂

  338. Jennifer juhlin
    Jennifer juhlin says:

    I LOVE this post. I feel the same and completely agree. We are raising our children just the same, and if I could write, I would have written this myself! I would LOVE to hear how others cope with the world around them when raising children like we do. I am desperate for feedback on this, because the issue we are running into is that when friends come over, especially friends of my boys, they do not know how to entertain themselves anymore. It is so frustrating for my children, because their friends don’t find very much fun outside of this. And my children are at non-traditional schools where there are so many like-minded people, but on this front, I do feel like overall our society is failing. When we have friends over, I am always upfront with the parents and let them know to have a conversation with their child before coming over, that there will be no screens, they can play games or bring their bikes or run around and throw the frisbee, but no screens. But I do feel like it’s starting to impact my son’s friend base. How to find friends of like-minded families!? Thank you for this post! So thankful today to not feel so alone…

  339. Heather Kingsbury
    Heather Kingsbury says:

    This may sound odd but I don’t have children, yet I can relate to this post. I recently wrote a blog (sewwritebrained@blogspot.com) about women and how much we are bombarded by advertisements on television, movies, etc. It’s disheartening, to think how much time we spend on electronics. It really does shape who we are and what we become. Recently, I’ve limited my television and movie watching to a minimum because I know it can cause me to stumble in many ways. I don’t get on Facebook often, but when I do, I realize that it “sucks” too much valuable time out of my precious day that I could be doing other things. Many days, I decide not to get on it at all. Thank you for you blog, I really enjoyed reading it and will definitely think about this in the future when I have children.

  340. Jerry Smith
    Jerry Smith says:

    Great read, but ladies, you can’t do this alone. You’ve got to ask for the guys to read this.

  341. Renee
    Renee says:

    Jerry-excellent point. In fact, this can cause quite the marital divide if you aren’t like-minded in this area, which is not what God intends either. Having conversations with your husband about why you feel this way is so important. Thanks for the reminder!

  342. Paul
    Paul says:

    I have to say we couldn’t agree more! Before we had kids, a nephew of mine made such an impression on me. When getting into their car to leave a family function, he immediately plugged in. And he couldn’t look up to tell me goodbye, and could hardly even recognize that I was talking to him. He was 4-5 years old. I remember telling my wife that it seemed electronics turned kids into zombies. Not far off? To this day we still limit our kids to 30 minutes per day. I have to also say, however, this was easier enforced when there were just two kids. With four the need for some quiet time or to sate the twins at an older kids’ sporting event has increased. While we still find ourselves saying ‘no’ all the time, we also find ourselves saying ‘yes’ more often as well. New inspiration lies within your letter. Thank you!!!

  343. wiggiesmom
    wiggiesmom says:

    my parents are about 70. they have adopted children who are 12,13,14,15, and 17. they don’t allow devices at the table. supper is at the table EVERY night. devices go in a basket at bedtime where Mom reviews texts, aps, etc. to ensure appropriate usage (and she can tell if they’ve been deleting too). the only internet computers are in a public area of the house. the kids do all have phones as they are in 3 different schools, and on multiple teams/activities and it’s easier for her and Dad to manage pick-up times with kids having the cell phones. They’ve raised kids in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s all without cell phones. My younger siblings can actually have a conversation with adults even though they all have learning issues from their original home environment. Just wanted you to know you aren’t alone trying to raise a second generation in this era of electronic addiction.

  344. Christy
    Christy says:

    This is amazing, moms and dads alike need to read this. I teared up just thinking about how quickly all of this will go by. My son is only two but I can’t wait to continue this amazing journey with him and know it will go by in the blink of an eye. Thanks for not only your advice but words of encouragement to parents. Amazing read!

  345. Karolyn T'kzon
    Karolyn T'kzon says:

    “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction, The world will have a generation of idiots.” – Albert Einstein.

    It has been foretold by the brilliant mind of Einstein and its too sad to find it is happening now.

  346. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    Our children are from the ”60s when TV was the problem. We had it, but it was controlled. Now we have a grandson that grew up in another state, and even though he visited occasionally, I never saw his face until I saw his graduation pictures. It had been buried in video game.

  347. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    Beautiful letter. I felt like it could also be titled “A letter to Mommy from my son”. How many times to my kids have I said, “Wait til I send this text, read this blog, check this site…”. My kids are 4&2 and I’ve continuously heard to put the electronic s away but never with the reasons you eloquently stated. I know that to teach this I must also do it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  348. Jane
    Jane says:

    Great post!! I will print and save for grandchildren. Our son never had this electronic stuff. He had no TV in his room (boy were we bad parents!!). My husband and I were our for dinner recently and across from us was a young boy, 8- 10, and his Dad. I don’t think they said 1/2 dozen words to each other the entire meal The boy was on some electronic device the entire time he was not eating. SAD………..

  349. Linda
    Linda says:

    I totally agree that phones and the like should be kept away from the table. I like that you don’t let your boys use them at other events, too. If families interacted more there would be more awareness of what is going on. My nephew just started dating a very nice girl and she hates when he has his phone out all the time. The other day she told him he could put the phone away, she was there now! Wake up people; we do want to see your eyes and hear your voice!!

  350. Sue
    Sue says:

    Oy. I get the sentiment but the judgments in the comments alone make me want to run and hide.

    None of us, not one single person here, truly knows what’s going on with another family out to eat or driving with a movie playing or looking at a device during swim practice. Can we all agree that we are all doing the best we can with the tools we’ve got? And sometimes that tool is an iPhone so your 7 year old with autism doesn’t melt down in public (and if you think judgement over screen use in public is bad, just look around while your child is having a tantrum).

    Good grief, to each thier own here.

  351. Clare
    Clare says:

    I am a primary school teacher in South Africa, and I have some of the same problems as you, Christie. I think lack of manners is to do with parents’ lack of responsibility, though – not directly with technology usage.

  352. Paco Montoya
    Paco Montoya says:

    I know times are different now, and electronics are everywhere and used in almost everything. I grew up in the 80’s/90’s and that stuff wasn’t around and even if it were, we didn’t have the money to own any of that stuff. Growing up older we did start to have more and more of that in our lives but I didn’t really get into that till around high school. I’m a real home body person, so video games were big to me after high school when I would work and go to school at nights. I love playing video games, but even then with my 2 year old, I never play in front of him. I don’t want to encourage that in his life right now. He loves playing with his toys and playing outside, and those are the most fondest memories I have as a kid. Yes, he does play games on the iPad when we feel okay letting him do it, and they’re mostly educational games. But not while we’re out or eating. Yes, it’s not easy doing it now, and they may look around and wonder why they have to live by these rules when most others don’t, but I GUARANTEE you they will thank you for that much later in life. 🙂

  353. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    Beautifully said. I have four boys, one who just recently moved out on his own, and I still speak to him about electronic usage, and the “real world”. They get so frustrated when I end their time on their devices. I wish I could have read this to him a few years ago in entirety, although I mentioned many of these things in conversation, on multiple occasions. I do believe it’s become an epidemic. As parents, we have to step up and step out. I love this quote :”What’s right, is not always popular, and what’s popular is not always right.” We have the ability to make a change, and we should!

  354. Kris
    Kris says:

    I have to admit I have not read all the comments, but am I the only one who doesn’t 100% agree? I have 2 highly intelligent, respectful, healthy children, now 16 & 18. While we don’t allow electronics at the table or when we visit the grandparents, etc., I have rarely set limits with anything in our home. (food, snacks,soda, TV, electronic devices, etc.) When I say, “turn it off”, the device gets turned off. Period. As I am sending my 18 year old off to college, I often think, “Did I do this right?” Not always. But I did pretty well. I like to compare this electronic restriction to candy restriction. In my home, we always have candy sitting out. Tons of snacks in my pantry. If you want it, take it. It’s fascinating when kids come over whose parents have restricted it, used it as a reward, forbid it…whatever. These kids go straight for the candy, every time, like they have been starved. My kids might grab an M&M or two, once or twice a week. My point is, when you make a big deal out of it, it becomes a big deal. When my friends ask me how I can allow my children to play video games so much (son) or use the iPad so much (daughter), I point to their academic careers. 3.96 & 3.85 GPAs. One got a 2070 on the SAT’s. One is attending a prestigious private college because he received copious academic merit awards. They can speak intelligently and respectfully to any adult. Voracious readers. One enjoys philosophy. One is a 2nd degree black belt, the other is an ASA softball player. Both hold jobs. They do chores at home. On and on and on…. My point is, there is a time and place for everything. There is not enough and too much of everything. Who decides? I was told by a teacher that one of my kids reads too much. This is the child that spends HOURS playing video games. Is reading too much just as bad as video gaming too much? Not to society! I believe guidance is important, and I also believe a good old fashioned “no” at my discretion is appropriate. You know in your heart what’s right/wrong for your child. It’s just that we sometime choose to ignore our hearts and listen to others’ judgement.

  355. Susan Nolan
    Susan Nolan says:

    Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to write this. It needs said. I teach junior high students and they are now allowed to use their devices at lunch. I just cringe. The kids really need to be socializing and they are not, because they are staring at screens. It also points out the differences between the haves and the have nots. I do speak up about my feelings with other staff members, but administrators made the decision.

    Some adults are becoming even worse. I love meeting new people and having conversations, but am put off when people stare at phones and don’t meet my eyes. How sad for us all.

    We need to keep speaking up and enforcing this with our children.

  356. Mattie Miller
    Mattie Miller says:

    Hello, May I print this??? My pastor would love this. As a single parent of 2 little girls I find it hard to entertain them and get my work done so I started having then work along side me here in our house but I cleaning for other people and am always afraid to have them help me for fear the will break something so its a hard balance. If I put them to a sitter then I will miss them anyway. But I refuse to put games on my phone because of this issue. It could be so easy to just let them play to there hearts content. But I want my children to explore and play in the dirt as much as possible. Thanks so much for this encouragement. If are ok with me printing this for my pastor to read email it to me in a PDF if possible. Thanks again God Bless, Mattie

  357. dana
    dana says:

    I love the post and haven’t had time to read all the comments but I would like to add another one of my primary reasons for limited screen time. Imagination! So many kids these days have very little opportunity to use their imaginations. Which is very valuable both now and in later life. I do wonder what the future holds as far as inventions and creative thinking when kids are so used to being entertained, externally stimulated (constantly) and told what to think.

  358. Renee
    Renee says:

    Kris, thank you for taking the time to comment. You are not alone at all in not agreeing 100%. Many other commenters disagreed for various reasons. I think each family has to choose what works within their home based on the personalities of the children. In our home, if candy were left out, one of my children wouldn’t be able to contain himself. But he is 10. When he is 16, that will be different possibly. One of my children has a personality that is addictive towards electronics, so self regulation doesn’t work for him. It would work for my other children though. It sounds like you have amazing children and are very blessed! I agree with you that as a parent you know in your heart what is right/wrong for your child. We are wise to use our intuition not what others think to make our decisions (some of my point here in this post). It’s hard but worth it. No one knows our children like we do. And in my case, I don’t want to miss the time I have with them because they are sucked into video games for hours. Blessings!

  359. Jerri VandePanne
    Jerri VandePanne says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Beautifully said. I have been seeing how much we miss out together for awhile now. My kids sit in their rooms with their own tv and I-pods. It is so quiet in the living room, sometimes now. I do tell them not when we are eating meals. and have expressed how much they are in their rooms, on their electronics. They will do good for awhile interactive with us. And then get busy in their rooms again. Satan sure knew what to do to separate families, but we are working on these issues. I love family time. Thanks for sharing.

  360. Amy Garcia
    Amy Garcia says:

    Thank you for writing this letter-for me. It let me know I was/am a good mother, that I did all the right things, no matter how hard they were or how bad they may have felt at times. Thank you for reminding me that everything I did as my children were growing up was exactly the right things to do. And although my 5 children are all grown up, I know they are good people, college graduates, upstanding members of society, and you gave me permission to pat myself on the back for being responsible for that. Your boys are very lucky to have you as a Mom!!

  361. Liz
    Liz says:

    I like this article because it articulated my feelings on the subject and helped solidify my stance.
    At the dr’s office the other day a little boy on his ipad was watching a show. My son came up to me, tapped me on the shoulder and asked if he could get an ipad for his birthday (which is coming up soon). I told him he could get an ipad when he grows up, gets a job and buys one. I don’t know where that came from really because I, until now, hadn’t actually set in stone a family policy on electronics. Both my husband and I have discussed the effects it has on the company we’ve had over. Kid’s we’ve watched grow up over the years come over to visit and now don’t say 2 words to you but just sit and push button or stare at a screen.
    I guess I should say thanks for writing it and I am grateful but I guess it means that mommy doesn’t get a cool ipad either. boo.. for now…

  362. michelle
    michelle says:

    Well said! I too share these same values, and like others said it does present many battles but ones I am willing to fight for the well being if my boys and our family. I notice consistently, if we have gotten lazy about monitoring our boys use of devices their behavior goes downhill. After cleansing them of this, the behavior always improves as well as our family life. I am astounded by so many parents lack of limit setting with regard to device use, “tech time”, as I call it. Many children I know who have no limits on tech time I notice can not enjoy the simple things in life, and sustain their atte.tion playing creatively for long. that is sad and I feel badly for those children. It becomes an addiction. I have had to “meet my kids in the middle”, because if I had it my way they would not have devices at all but I need to accept that this is the generation they are growing up in. My kids call me old fashioned, lol, growing up in the 70’s and not having all this technology but when I see their ear-to-ear smiles and hear their uncontrollable laughter when playing silly games on our porch on a rainy night I feel satisfied with our parenting decisions with regard to limiting technology, allowing for plenty of play, a kids very important job that is necessary for development.

  363. Joel Solomon
    Joel Solomon says:

    You live the courageously your values in the face of a lot of pressure to conform. That may be the best gift you give your boys. My wife and I have raised three boys that are now on their own. We are so glad we stood firm even when others did not understand and even criticized. With your permission I will share your letter with the parents of my congregation in Santiago, Chile, South America.

  364. Renee
    Renee says:

    Thank you for your comment 🙂 For many of us, blogs serve as a support system and offer encouragement and a community of like-minded parents. Blessings!

  365. Bessie S
    Bessie S says:

    This is so well said. Every single word is so positive and nurturing. In just one little but really important part of your letter, you are taking responsibility for raising gentlemen who can communicate with people intelligently and confidently, look them in the eye, and really exchange thoughts with them. This is exactly what so many of our young people are missing today. They have literally either lost or never developed the ability to communicate on a personal, human level. That scares me more for them than it does for me. Thank you for publishing this for us to see.

  366. Angela
    Angela says:

    This letter is not just for parents. For all of us without children, but hold the ones in our lives very dear, thank you for enlightening us.

    I feel horrible! I give my “nephew” my tablet all the time so he can play games. What was I thinking?! As an Auntie it is God given right to give him treats, but not to take to take away from his wonderment at the world.

    I will still let him play games, but I will be more careful about how and when I let him play.

  367. Chelse C
    Chelse C says:

    I don’t have kids yet, but this article has been really convicting for me personally. As a college student, I am surrounded by my peers who are attached to their screens. I’ve been guilty of it too of course, and it’s very difficult to make friends. Whenever I’m waiting for class to start I try to put my phone away and engage an actual human being. In fact, I’m working towards checking FB, Twitter, and Instagram just twice a day. It’s hard, but worth it. Thank you to the author for such a timely message.

  368. Justin
    Justin says:

    Thanks so much Renee.

    About four years ago my wife and I decided to deny out children TV from Monday to Friday. We found that as soon as it was switched on they became oblivious to everything and everyone around them: slack-jawed, goggle-eyed zombies. Everything you talked about in your letter was true. Once we enforced the rule they complained for about a day then simply got on and did other things. We found we had to play with them more (I say “we had to” because at first it felt like a small effort for us, too, especially at the end of a long day at work). But after about a week it became something we all really looked forward to at the end of each day. Now we play games, read books, TALK about stuff, roll around tickling etc (the kids are only 9 and 7) … and it’s marvellous. It is like they came back to us.

    We love TV, don’t get me wrong. The kids have ‘movie night’ every Friday, where they get to watch a movie of their choice. If we are home we all watch together. And that’s it. The only TV they get. No ads, no rubbish, no ridiculous gawping at the screen just because it is on. I sometimes think my wife and I should follow their example. Let me rephrase that: I know we should.

    As for iPhones and all: the kids have a bit of computer time during the week, mostly at school. And because they are not in the habit of needing the screen to amuse them they don’t look for it. My son is usually engrossed in a book (he was recently assessed as having a ‘reading age’ of 15), and my daughter wants to write, draw and do rainbow loom. When my son developed a screaming headache after 12 straight hours of playing computer games (we were on a long-haul flight and kind of loosened the rules a bit), we both thought it was a blessing in disguise. He hasn’t done that since.

    Thank you.

  369. Lisa R.
    Lisa R. says:

    I don’t have kids, but I understand the desire to shut out the world by immersing yourself (or having your children do so) in a device. But if you are always texting or reading banalities, or saving the princess from the Boss Troll, how will you ever come to know yourself or any one around you? Self-awareness comes from quiet reflection, not from virtually poking someone. Growth comes from talking to others and hearing their perspective and experiences. I love technology; I have a premium cable package, a smart phone, a tablet, two computers, and e reader and more gaming systems than I have time to play with. I limit my use of these items, and if, I had a child, I would limit theirs as well.

  370. Brooke
    Brooke says:

    I couldn’t agree more and I’m blessed my 7 & 10 year old daughters understand. We had a lunch date with some of their friends and their friends were on electronics the entire time!! They would try to offer it to my girls to play but I told them they were still not allowed to do so. The other mother finally took them away….briefly before the children took them back. We also went to the park and they brought the electronic device to that too. Really validated my point on why my girls can use computers for education or an hour a week for educational games.

  371. LaMargaret
    LaMargaret says:

    Thank you so much for eloquently putting some of my very thoughts into words. We have made the decision in our home to limit electronics and TV for our son. He is currently 22 months old. We want him to use his own imagination to create and be involved with those around him. Again thank you!!

  372. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I do agree with the thoughts in this piece and I do try to limit my childrens screen time. However, I will say that as a mother with two young boys with Austim, there are times when my childrens use of electronic devices is a life saver for me. At resturants, it give my husband and I a chance for a quiet family meal instead of having to jump up and run after our 7 year old nonverbal son who would running around bouncing off the walls, making a scene. I also use the DS to keep him entertained while his father preaches in church on Sunday mornings. During the day, the gaming system or a movie gives me time to clean the house or make a phone call. I applaude your letter and efforts. Just please remember that not everyone’s children are “normal” (whatever that is) and some of us use these devices to cope with the unique challenges of raising a child who needs more from us.

  373. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    First you need to start with the parents and grandparents. It is so sad to see adults who were raised before the internet and cell