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