This is the Future

Because good geeky content matters

MomLife

Parenting tips, challenges, and how to train up your kid to be a geek.

No screens, no problem?

My son is only 10 months old right now, but it won’t be long before he gets sucked into the “screen world” as I like to call it.  Will be become one of the many toddlers who knows how to work an iPhone better than I do?  Or can recite the whole script of the movie Cars?

As a child, I didn’t have much screen time.  I had two channels of TV in my small mountain town, plus a couple dozen VHS tapes. However, we didn’t engage much in screen time then, usually only during pizza night or Saturday morning cartoons.

Instead, I spent my days outside with my homemade bow, watching for deer so I could catch dinner (much to my disappointment I didn’t catch any, but my parents provided dinner thankfully =P).  I read books in the apple tree, I wrote stories of heroes and knights and dragons, I had an imaginary friend that went on adventures with me in the woods in our backyard.

I understand that today’s children will grow up much different than how I grew up.  But how can I, as a parent change the norm?  How can I encourage my son to read instead of playing video games, to write a story instead of watching a story on TV?  I realize that in order for my son to grow up similar to how I did, I must join in with him on limiting screens.

Here’s my thought, children are sponges, they absorb everything around in their world.  So if the parent is reading a book, they’ll want to read a book.  If their parent spends all day in front of a computer or tv screen (more on creative screen time in a moment), then the child will want to spend all day in front of a computer screen.

So I propose to myself, my husband, and my son: we will have certain days of “no screens.”  A day during the week where instead of watching Star Wars Clone Wars, I read the Thrawn Trilogy .  Instead of playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown, I play Alien Encounters with my family.  Eventually, hopefully, my family and I will have the no screen time by habit.  That Facebook won’t be our go to, that our iPads won’t be the default for our “entertainment”.

Now, you must be wanting to ask, what about all the amazing things we can do via screens?  Programming, blogging, designing, composing?  In our day and age, most of our creative outlets are on screen, so how do I balance this out?

The “no screens” day wouldn’t be everyday, it would be one or two days out of the week.  The other days I would encourage myself, my husband, and my son to be creative ON SCREEN.  This means maybe we compose a song together on GarageBand.  Maybe my son (when he’s older) will program a simple platformer game.

My point in all of this is I often depend on screens too often for my entertainment wants.  I check Twitter way too often.  I “zone out” when I play my 3DS, unaware of conversations, unaware of my son learning new skills.  Instead, I should try and focus my free time on the creative endeavors outside and inside the computer world.  The no screens day would help remind my family and I that there is a whole world outside of the Internet, outside of a video game.  There’s beauty, there’s adventure, there’s a whole world to explore.

I also want my son to have a similar upbringing that I did.  Before I became a tech nut, I was a writer, reader, explorer, superhero, a Jedi, an athlete.  I still am these things, but I must limit my screen time to flesh them out.  To awaken the creativity, the imagination that I once had.

You may not agree with me on this, you may love spending all your time on screens everyday.  But for my family, I must make this decision.  I must give my son the opportunity to explore the world, inside a book, and outside in the nearby greenspace.  There is a time and place for creativity on the screen, but sometimes, we all need a break from that bright Retina light, and look at the real, sunlight outside our windows.

No screens, no problem?

My son is only 10 months old right now, but it won’t be long before he gets sucked into the “screen world” as I like to call it.  Will be become one of the many toddlers who knows how to work an iPhone better than I do?  Or can recite the whole script of the movie Cars?

As a child, I didn’t have much screen time.  I had two channels of TV in my small mountain town, plus a couple dozen VHS tapes. However, we didn’t engage much in screen time then, usually only during pizza night or Saturday morning cartoons.

Instead, I spent my days outside with my homemade bow, watching for deer so I could catch dinner (much to my disappointment I didn’t catch any, but my parents provided dinner thankfully =P).  I read books in the apple tree, I wrote stories of heroes and knights and dragons, I had an imaginary friend that went on adventures with me in the woods in our backyard.

I understand that today’s children will grow up much different than how I grew up.  But how can I, as a parent change the norm?  How can I encourage my son to read instead of playing video games, to write a story instead of watching a story on TV?  I realize that in order for my son to grow up similar to how I did, I must join in with him on limiting screens.

Here’s my thought, children are sponges, they absorb everything around in their world.  So if the parent is reading a book, they’ll want to read a book.  If their parent spends all day in front of a computer or tv screen (more on creative screen time in a moment), then the child will want to spend all day in front of a computer screen.

So I propose to myself, my husband, and my son: we will have certain days of “no screens.”  A day during the week where instead of watching Star Wars Clone Wars, I read the Thrawn Trilogy .  Instead of playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown, I play Alien Encounters with my family.  Eventually, hopefully, my family and I will have the no screen time by habit.  That Facebook won’t be our go to, that our iPads won’t be the default for our “entertainment”.

Now, you must be wanting to ask, what about all the amazing things we can do via screens?  Programming, blogging, designing, composing?  In our day and age, most of our creative outlets are on screen, so how do I balance this out?

The “no screens” day wouldn’t be everyday, it would be one or two days out of the week.  The other days I would encourage myself, my husband, and my son to be creative ON SCREEN.  This means maybe we compose a song together on GarageBand.  Maybe my son (when he’s older) will program a simple platformer game.

My point in all of this is I often depend on screens too often for my entertainment wants.  I check Twitter way too often.  I “zone out” when I play my 3DS, unaware of conversations, unaware of my son learning new skills.  Instead, I should try and focus my free time on the creative endeavors outside and inside the computer world.  The no screens day would help remind my family and I that there is a whole world outside of the Internet, outside of a video game.  There’s beauty, there’s adventure, there’s a whole world to explore.

I also want my son to have a similar upbringing that I did.  Before I became a tech nut, I was a writer, reader, explorer, superhero, a Jedi, an athlete.  I still am these things, but I must limit my screen time to flesh them out.  To awaken the creativity, the imagination that I once had.

You may not agree with me on this, you may love spending all your time on screens everyday.  But for my family, I must make this decision.  I must give my son the opportunity to explore the world, inside a book, and outside in the nearby greenspace.  There is a time and place for creativity on the screen, but sometimes, we all need a break from that bright Retina light, and look at the real, sunlight outside our windows.

Music, games, and other resources for your geeky kid

I’ve recently had friends and family ask me for resources for their geeky kid, whether it be for math, science, or programming.  Here is a compilation of music, games, websites, and activities you can provide for your intellectual child.

Music

They Might Be Giants- Here come the 123s” and “Here comes Science.”  These two children’s albums from the famous alternative band teaches kids to count and add, defines words such as meteorite, all while providing catchy tunes that both parent and kid enjoy.  Below is one of my favorite songs:

What is a shooting star?

Classical Music- Studies have shown some correlation between classical music and math scores. Starting your kid early to enjoy classical music can open them up to matching patterns and even motivating them to take up a orchestra instrument.  I highly suggest Vivaldi, Beethoven, and Mozart.  Trans Siberian Orchestra also has done a Beethoven tribute for those that like more electric music.

Beethoven’s Last Night- Trans Siberian Orchestra

Board Games

Equate: Think Bananagrams with Math, great for training kids (and adults) for quick, simple arithmetic.

Blokus: Fantastic visual-spatial game.  Place your polyominos matching at least one corner to another piece.  Try to block others while still being able to place your pieces in an efficient manner.

Pandemic: For older children, Pandemic is a co-op strategy board game where you work as a team to stop a virus from destroying the world.  Good for teaching biology of viruses and how they can spread, while also teaching how to work together as a group.

Video Games

Author’s note: I am a believer in moderation.  While video games can be a great teaching tool, too much of it can hinder children’s imagination. Use sparingly for education.

Minecraft: It goes without saying that Minecraft is a digital world of legos.  Can be great in teaching kids how to build and create without spending the cost of Lego sets.  However, video games can’t replace touching and feeling objects in the real world.

Math Ninja: Available on iOS, Math Ninja puts you into a world where you must solve math problems to beat waves of enemies, while also being able to throw ninja stars and flames at enemies.

Other

Khan Academy: Amazing resource for children who are self motivated.  Compilation of videos that teach math, computer science, history, and more. Highly recommended for homeschoolers or public schoolers that want an extra challenge.