Monday, October 29, 2012

Living With Less - Technology

This is a picture of my small netbook with three of my children's laptops (ages almost 16, 14, and 12), at our once or twice a week visit to the small library in town.  We go down to the basement and have a table to spread out on in order to access the high speed internet.
Our oldest son, now 18 at college, bought his first laptop at age 15, our next son bought his at 14.  Then our daughter saved up and bought hers this past summer at age 12 (she if very responsible and not drawn to the screen like her brothers), and finally Isaac just went to work for my father in Massachusetts and saved up to buy his own laptop at the age of 14.

At our home we do not have broadband available yet as we live on a gravel road four miles from the main paved road in a town of about 600 people.  Vermont is promising broadband access for everyone by the end of 2013, we shall see.  I am not a fan of waves running into our house and where we live even satellite internet is not reliable.    Although, our family relies on the internet for our income, I am still not convinced that having high speed will make things more profitable, perhaps it will only be distracting with so many more options.
For example, when we went away earlier this month to a cottage at a Vermont state park, we found that we had a strong wi-fi signal and now had the option to download movies.  If that had not been available, maybe we would have played a card game that night instead.  What I am getting at is that it is easier to stay disciplined with screen time when there are fewer options.

Having only dial-up at home, keeps our life simpler.   Sometimes I think about how nice it would be able to watch a movie on youtube relating to something we are studying for home learning, but then I wonder how much time I might waste searching for one or if it really would add any substance to our lesson.    Without wirless internet in our home, our children cannot go in their respective bedrooms and be "connected" to the outside world while be disconnected to their family.   Nolan, who is almost 17, does go on dial up sometimes in the evening (usually from 9:00 - 10:00 pm when the rest of the house is in bed) to check his facebook, but that is about all.

How about all of that social networking stuff?  Obviously, I blog.  Sometimes I wonder why but then I am always reminded that it is a routine for me to keep a journal of our family.  Loading pictures and typing a brief summary has become part of my days and I don't know if I would order the photos and then keep them organized if I decided not to have the blog.  In addition. I appreciate so many friends that I have made through blogging and the encouragement and sharing.   Our family has chosen a bit of a different path than most and I like to share that there are other options than the mainstream.  Finally, blogging does let me share our family's business.
However, besides blogging here I don't engage in some of the more popular social media - no facebook (I have an account but rarely check it - only if one of our older children tell me to check out a picture of a relative or something similar - and even then I have to ask them how to use it), no twitter, instagram, etc...   I do have a pinterest account, but with dial up internet only check it out when I go to the library.  I do appreciate the ideas that are shared via pinterest.

Our family has only recently bought a trac phone.  It was $10.00 and we only have it in case of emergencies.
I don't know anything about all the I-phones and I-this and I-that products.  We don't have any kind of readers either, nor GPS systems, no gaming devices, nor any kind of television programming.  The children do download some programs such as Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs, music.
We do have Saturday mornings as our designated computer game playing time.  With little children as well as older, we have had to set aside a specific time so that little ones are not tempted to spend too much time screen watching.

Now I can see how having books on a computer or reader would make life simpler and maybe be more environmentally friendly, I just haven't become used to the idea of reading off the computer screen yet, but perhaps someday.  Renee really enjoys how it has simplified their family's paper life.  I do have some concerns about disposing all of the electronic devices as they will surely become "outdated" and break down in a relatively short period of time when a book can last for potentially hundreds of years.

We don't own a printer either.  If I have something to print, I do it at the library.  This saves space for one thing.  But it also saves money I think in the long run.  I feel quite certain that I would print out this or that calling it educational or "for the business" and probably would end up wasting money, time, and not being kind to the environment.  We still hand write all of our mailing labels for our business instead of printing them out.

As far as spending money, my computer is a small netbook that cost about $250.00 which I purchased about 1 1/2 years ago.  My children tell me constantly how theirs are so much better and I really should get a new laptop.  But why?  I keep telling them it is doing its job just fine.

How do you manage technology in your home?  

Warm wishes,

(Stay safe today as hurricane Sandy makes its way through the northeast.)


  1. I don't have tv, no Facebook, no Ipad, no Ipod, an antique cellphone for emergencies and when I am traveling (which doesn't happen that often), I have no car (doing everything by bike and public transport), no microwave nor dishwasher, energy saving light bulbs in the entire house. And yes I am a blogger and I love it! I have 2nd(or more)hand laptop I bought two years ago for €329,-.
    I am connected to cable for internet.
    I am doing what's within my possibilities to live as environmentally and my personal wallet- friendly as possible in this '(over)connected' world.

    Great post, Tonya; thanks for sharing!


  2. We do have electronic devices, not the latest and greatest, but we have them. I have to say they have never been a problem . Maybe because there are so many other things to do in our home and in our lives they just haven't become an issue. I have seen other families put such restrictions on electronics that their kids crave it and can't wait for their designated 1/2 hour a day of screen time. With that said if it did become a problem I guess we would have to put limits. I will say that FB can be a distraction--I recently cut my friends list in more than half and only kept people that I am close to on it. I also only check it once a day. I haven't been blogging regularly either :-) There are just to many things to do and relationships to nourish that there isn't time for the screens:-)

  3. Thank you for sharing all these details, Tonya. It's always interesting for me to see how other families deal with the issue of technology today.

    In our home, we are definitely not techno-savvy. My husband and I have never owned a cell phone or any handheld device for that matter. We have only one telephone, which I bought for #3.99 at the thrift store many years ago. I like using an old phone with a cord because I don't like the idea of cordless phones.

    That said, we do have a dish on the back of our house for satellite internet. But the signal then comes into our home through a wire, and straight into our computer by the wire. We pay for high speed, because my husband watches a lot of Youtube. If not for that though, we probably wouldn't bother. We don't have Facebook accounts or any of that (except I do like Pinterest).

    We have one desktop computer which was bought on sale a while ago when our old computer died. We will continue our tradition with computers (and cars) and use this one until it absolutely dies and it becomes more expensive to fix it than to buy a new one.

    We have an old thrifted television, a thrifted VCR and a DVD player that was given to us secondhand. So we do watch movies sometimes. I admit I like having the option on those rainy days when the kids are cranky being cooped up inside. I am very picky about what they watch though.

    And we have two small stereo systems for listening to CDs. That's all the electronics in our home. Our 13 year old daughter has an MP3 player, and quite frankly I don't like it because she wants to listen to music ALL THE TIME and her headphones have the effect of shutting the rest of us out; it's hard to get her attention any more. I think maybe we should buy something for her to listen to music in her room so she can still hear us when we talk to her.

    Oh yes, and we also have an old Nintendo 64 which the kids love, but which I loathe. I really feel those video games are too stimulating for young brains. We have it because my husband likes video games, but if it were up to me I would toss it. We compromise and the kids' time with video games is restricted. Most of the time they only play educational games online.

  4. I enjoyed reading your posts, because in a way, it helps us measure ourselves by reading about others.

    Here in the cottage, technology is embraced. Not in great quantity but in the easiness of our lives.

    There was a point when I looked at technology as a great evil. Something that kept my children geared to blips, whistles and sounds that were not natural to my ears. But then, this is the way of our culture, and I wanted my children to be aware of what was out there.

    I must share, that my children are all in the mid-teens with my oldest become 18yrs old in two weeks, so I do not have the same fears as when they were little.

    In terms of social media, blogging is all I do. Facebook annoys me and twitter just doesn't make any sense to me. My children do not have a blog nor do they spend hours on the computer, but they do enjoy the WII and play quite a bit on weekends.

    I believe Tonia, that technology can be enjoyed as long as you know how to balance it correctly and do not allow it to run your life.

    Great post as always... m.

  5. Great post, as always. In our home we have one computer, that is it. No Ipods, Iphones or anything like that, an old cellphone for emergencies and believe it or not our home phone still has a cord, no cordless phone here. Some consider us to be living in the stone age, but we get along just fine and life is so much simpler. It works for us.

  6. I just found your blog recently, and am quite enjoying it, particularly this one. Some of the responders are really insightful as well! Makes for good reading.
    Currently, it's just my fiancé and myself currently, but I think we're more de-plugged than other 20-30 somethings. We have internet, but no cable. We do watch some TV but stream most of it and take out a lot of DVDs (including TV seasons) from the library. I swear it's the commercials that do most of the rotting of your brain. I won't lie, I like to watch while I knit and I strongly believe good film can affect you like a good book. That being said I read a lot too. I use audiobooks and eBooks on my eReader for some books, but most of my reading is still physical. Especially pattern books or any non-fiction really. I can only do fiction electronically. His laptop is the youngest, at about 3 years old. We just use them for the basics and focus on interacting with each other more than our computers.

  7. Great post. We have four computers...two are very old and on their way out. My husband has a laptop that he takes with him when he travels, and then we have a fairly decent pc that is two or three years old. We do have high speed internet...I wish my 16-year-old didn't spend so much time on youtube and facebook. I do try to monitor what he looks at. We don't download movies...we buy or rent dvds when we feel like watching a movie. We don't have an Ipad, kindle or nook, paper and ink books for us. I don't like to read a lot of text on a computer screen. No flat screen TV s for us...we found our great working TVs at a thrift store that was having a "buy one get one free sale." We got two great TVs (tube type - not flat screen) for $15. We do not have smart phones...just two older model cells. I do have texting on mine mostly because that is one way I stay in touch with my grown children and siblings. I totally agree with is good, but there is a definite downside. My husband and I are always amazed at the monthly charges people pay on smart phones so they can post silly things to facebook -- sometimes as much as $400 - $500 a month. We are very frugal and will forgo the latest thing to keep costs down and live debt free within our means. I love your blog and thought-provoking posts!

  8. You posted something similar some time back, and again this time I found myself smiling and nodding along as I could have written word for word so much of what you wrote here. We are quite similar in our house. One computer, slow satellite internet with a wire to it as we're scared of wireless waves floating through our brains. Yet at the same time have cell phones because we're too rural for a landline. No other gadgets at all, a TV but no channels. No twitter or Ipads or handheld games for the kids. We do however have some video games that my 14 yr old is allowed to play for 2 hours each on Tuesdays and Thursdays after schoolwork and chores. That is one of those areas that I would gladly let go of (video game systems), but my husband and 14 yr old's dads are both for them.

    And I have the exact same thoughts about high speed internet- we use the internet for business as well but I don't want high speed because then we will have access to videos, movies, youtubes, etc! And I am certain time would be wasted on those things. I also question why I blog but then answer myself with exactly the same reasons you listed for why you blog! I mean exactly! lol I too have a facebook I never visit except when my mom tells me someone had a baby and I should go see pictures.

    I do use a copy machine for homeschool work regularly. I reuse nearly all our curriculum for each child by photocopying the lessons.

    I have zero desire to read books off of screens. I love books way to much! The smell of them and the feel of them and the look of them on my shelves! :)

    Have a good night Tonya! (hmm, come to think of it, you're on the east coast and probably have been in bed for hours, teehee).

  9. Hi Tonya,

    We have a computer and an Ipad, mainly for my husband's work, but as our youngest needs to patch one eye for two hours a day, and at the same time concentrate on something close up, I let him use the iPad when he gets frustrated with his patch - it works really well for that!
    I like to read blogs, but I do think my time would be better spent elsewhere! Although I really appreciate some time off to myself. I don't do Facebook - I tried it, and then found it to be quite bragging etc, so I don't want to read how my friends come across so big headed etc. I just write to them instead.
    Not a notion about twitter etc, I think I'm happy without - probably just old!!

    What is it with everyone asking for my mobile number in shops etc? It lives in the car for emergencies, and I don't know what the number is. They look at me really strangely when I say no. Is there no privacy?

    I like books. You know where you are with a book, you can drop it, and its still a book, get it wet, and its still a book. Second hand is good recycling too.

    Anyway, thank you for this post. I like your family's way of doing things, it sounds very real, and true. x