this is a question I struggle assessing myself as a programmer.

It's already key to understand computer science. It is and will continue to be even more increasingly important that our children are at ease with computer interfaces as society continues to provide information and services online.

I'll be honest, as a programmer I view skills like coding or even computer use in general, for research for example, to be really important moving forward, but we all know the child who destroyed their life playing games to no end.

Can anybody suggest an approach to teaching the utility of digital technology ( I do feel it is learn early and a cultural thing, I recognise a circle as a power button, my mother does not) without developing more social media dependant sheep??

I hear about children under ten demanding smart phones for Xmas, to me it just seems that nature is now forgotten, but on the other hand using computers is a skill as valuable as arithmetic.

How have you reconciled this in your parent child relationships? Thanks all for your input!

4 Answers 4


I can't speak to older children, but I can outline how we're approaching it with our daughter (who will be ten months old next week).

Basically, she does not get to play with an iPad, or our phones, or a tablet device. We also don't watch TV with her, though we might have it on in the background. If she looks at the TV we describe what's going on, but try to gently redirect her back to her toys. We do use our phones around her, and occasionally play video games, but do not allow her to directly interact with the devices. We instead focus on giving her physical toys that she can manipulate and grasp and interact with, and engage with her directly at all times while she is awake.

Our goal with limiting her interaction at such a young age is to give her the opportunity to develop the coordination and physical skills to someday handle a keyboard or mouse or whatever input device we come up with in the next decade. She gets plenty of examples for how technology works without deliberately exposing her to it (she has on multiple occasions swiped on our watches, it's a very intuitive process), and while she's interested in it she doesn't expect to be given access to it, and prioritizes her toys and interacting with us directly.

We also try to model how we want her to interact with technology; dinnertime is a time for conversation and engagement as a family, so when she's in her high chair with us at dinner we do not watch videos or the news as we did before she arrived. When we're just relaxing at home we do not sit on our phones while she is playing, the phones are away and we are engaging with her play.

Basically, I wouldn't worry about teaching your child directly how to use technology; my husband and I are both programmers and avid gamers (we watched Overwatch League throughout my labor!), and we both agree it's critical that our daughter learn how to use the computer and understand it, but what you'll find is they pick up computer skills just from every day activities that you don't even think about.

As for teaching children how to not fall victim to video game addiction or dependence, it's no different in my mind to a child wanting candy all the time. At some point the parent needs to parent, and ideally would be consistent, firm, and reasonable in their decisions from the get go, and have full cooperation from their partner or fellow caregivers. I grew up while the Internet was taking off and when video games became a really big thing, and my parents just treated games and Internet time as another thing I had to learn to enjoy in moderation and self-regulate, with gentle reminders and reinforcement from my parents.

  • Lets talk when your kid is 6 or 10 or 15 :-) But I agree with the overall approach. However, I have seen some kids who are not attracted to devices much and others who rebel (enough to thow up food) when device time is consistently limited.
    – user61034
    Dec 28, 2018 at 18:40
  • Given that the user doesn't seem to have children yet, I figured it might help to post how it can go in early childhood since it's so fresh for me. :) I'll update in 6 years!
    – Marisa
    Dec 28, 2018 at 19:04

That's difficult because they are becoming too reliant, IMO, on tech in schools. Books and pencils are relics. My 13 year old step son can't write as well as I think he should because they stopped teaching penmanship years ago.

So, they bring home with them this technology dependence. That's fine. Older generation won't get it because they didn't have that available and to them and us it seems like a wrong way to do things.

But, video games are far more complex these days as well. Many are heavily story driven. And others like Minecraft and Roblox can help teach valuable skills. And for the social awkward, MMOs have a place.

With that in mind, moderation and parental guidance are necessary for success of a child. And that would be sound advice regardless of technology. Any kid who spends too much time, say, fishing could find themselves at just as much a disadvantage as a kid who played too much Call of Duty.

As the parent, you set the goals. If you don't want your child to have a smartphone at 10 years old, then you don't get them one. And then you explain why. I find my self using the same excuses my parents used with me, with a variation of course, of "We didn't have 'x' when we were your age and got along just fine."

Our 13 year old, while he has slacked at times and grades slipped, usually maintains A's, so we don't completely control his tech access unless he's not doing the things that need to get done, school work, chores, etc. We do limit how much time he can use his laptop, but its pretty liberal, and we explain to him that his phone is a tool and that if he wants to play games on the go to use his DS-something-or-other. He doesn't really listen and continues to watch You-Tube videos people playing games and then complaining that his battery dies. Yeah welcome to life, kid.

He's also not an outdoorsy kid, he has ADHD, and no common sense most of the time. Video games and coding are his calming tools and we are OK with him being more dependent on them.

He doesn't have any social media accounts and he knows to ask us before downloading new apps or software. He's become more aware of things I'm not familiar with, like 3D printing, so asking me for things in regards to that kind of request leaves me like a deer in the headlights. That's when, as a parent, you have to ask questions and do some basic research. I think that 2 things most parents don't do and that's what gets them or their kids in trouble.


As a parent of an adult child leaving home and an 8 year old, I can confidently say "don't worry about it".

First part: teaching the use of digital tools

The instruments your child is likely to be exposed to initially are designed so that a child whose family is completely illiterate can learn to operate them in about 30 minutes without any instruction. They will learn to use the tools very naturally.

By the time you child is ready for formal training, the devices will likely have changed enough that anything you plan to teach now would be obsolete.

My son only recently started any formal training (programming Java with CodaKid - he wanted to make minecraft mods), and that was because he wanted to do something specific that of interest to him, that was outside of my direct experience.

Second part: teaching to not be dependent on digital tools

The reality is, for good or for ill, our society is dependent on digital tools. Even school textbooks are now being distributed electronically rather than in paper form at many schools. It is cheaper for schools to supply electronic devices to read the text books than it is to buy the paper books. By the time your child is in school it is possible that paper textbooks may be a thing of the past.

In my state, every child is given a school administered g-suite account when they enter public school. By 5th grade they are expected to hand in some assignments electronically. By 10th grade almost all assignments are handed in electronically.

My family's solution is not for everyone - my son is home schooled, so he is almost always under direct parental supervision. The kids and families he associates mostly share similar principals.

My own son has just about every digital tool he can, not because we set out to load him up digitally, but because he's inherited his adult sister's hand me downs. Once the novelty wore off, he uses them as appropriate with little need for deliberate parental input. He has his own youtube channel that we post to from time to time as he makes videos, and with it the Google G-suite that he and I use to converse when I am working. So far he has had no need for other social media.

He is active in Trail life USA (outdoors program similar to scouting), holds his own playing tabletop games (various card games, D&D, etc) with older kids and teens at the local gaming shop, plays with legos, and is generally doing things other kids his age do.

Personal observation and frustration

One of my frustrations working with a teenaged webcast crew is that some kids devices are locked down to where they are useless (they can't even dial into the tech crew conference call or run the intercom software) and the training courses we subscribe to offer their "face to face" time with the instructors on Facebook, so families with "no social media" policies lock their kids out of the core training materials.


First of all, it's not just technology that the population are reliant on, it's the supplies given. Nobody rubs two sticks together in the wild anymore.

Teach children how to handwrite and read. I assisted my daughter with all this. Skills are what they need. Get them outside into nature.

The gloomy stuff

Now, I'm gonna get very weird. A child will only care for nature if you tell them the consequences of video games and technology. Teach them about peer pressure, tell them it's not 'cool' to spend 12 hours or 6 hours (almost half or quarter of a day) on a XBOX or Playstation.

Knowledge is from effort. Get them into computer programming instead of video games. Fortnite shouldn't be such a problem. Give them a stereotype of what kids who play video games are.

  • Agreed, a child will only care about nature of you get them out in it. We haven't taught fire bows yet, but flint and steel is a required skill in my son's outdoors program.
    – pojo-guy
    Dec 30, 2018 at 0:33
  • 1
    Omg I wish that was my childhood!
    – mike1024
    Dec 31, 2018 at 15:11

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