As part of our radical parenting approach, we are now offering our children unlimited screen time. We trust that they are learning many good things as they pursue the experiences that they enjoy and desire.

Aisha on the iPad, April 2012
Until late in the night, Aisha experiments on the iPad, learning what the icons do and how to make the programs work.

This is a big change for us! Previously computer usage was doled out in small, measured amounts. We’ve never had a television, but we’ve let our children watch things on the computer and play online for short times.

Since hitting the road, our girls have been exposed to many, many television shows and videos that we wouldn’t have chosen for them (including all the dreadful Disney fairytales), but we have learned to let go of our illusion of control and trust that these experiences are good, right, and gifts given to them for their benefit!

Our family’s use of techno-gadgets is naturally limited by our lifestyle. We don’t travel with electricity and charge our devices in public libraries or at friends’ houses. So the girls understand that sometimes we don’t have power available to us, and that’s why the answer is “no” when someone asks to play on the computer, iPad or phone. But when electricity is available, David and I are learning to always say “yes”.

It’s been hard for us to let go of the dollar value of these items and watch our very small — sometimes flighty — children walk around with hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of equipment. But that tight-arsed mentality comes from believing that the money that David and I have is ours, and not our children’s. If we really believe in sharing everything, that means that I can no longer call the laptop my own. It is our family’s, and every single member of the family has equal rights to its usage. How can we teach our children to share their toys unless we ourselves model the sharing of those things that we value?

And so, as I approach 7yo Aisha in the early evening and see her working on our new iPad, I gently ask her if she’s hungry. She is, and requests that food be brought to her. A vision enters my mind of a intense scientist, working in a lab on some fabulous experiment that will change the world. This is what is happening in front of me.

Aisha’s brain is making new pathways that will assist her in the future. She is part of a cyborg generation that connects to other humans through technology, and we don’t need to fear that, but resource the acquisition of necessary skills.

I bring food to Aisha, and she barely pauses moving her fingers as she eats. She is learning, she is loving it, and she is free to do so!