Analog or Digital Parenting

analog or digital parenting from thishappymom.comAnalog or digital parenting? Huh?

Choosing analog or digital isn’t as simple as I once thought.  Until recently, I never thought of it in the context of parenting.

For the past ten (or more) years of my life, I’ve been increasingly dependent on digital content over the traditional analog (or printed) methods.

Until a few weeks ago, I would have chosen digital over analog, electrons over paper.


I’m now rethinking my stance.

For some things, paper is better.


Analog > Digital

Because of my children.

My kids need to understand how things work.

Scenario 1: Money.

I love my debit card.  Hubs and I are both guilty of wandering around strange cities cashless.  The result?  My kids had no idea that when we went out to eat we were actually PAYING for the privilege.  They had no idea that when we went to Target the Lego’s actually cost money.

Mommy, why do you pay for food at the grocery store when it’s free at the restaurant?

Epic Parenting Fail.

Solution?  Cold hard cash.  Seeing mommy hand over a stack of bills hammered home just how much it costs to go to McDonald’s.

Scenario 2: My Calendar.

When I got married, I planned it all in my paper planner.  I loved that thing.  By the time I had kids, I had moved to a PC based planning system and just printed out my page for the day.  Now?  I have everything on my iPhone.

My kids have planners in school this year.  They have no idea how to use them.

Mommy, what am I supposed to do with this? Why can’t I just use my [iPod] Touch?

Epic Parenting Fail.

Solution:  Paper planner for mommy.

Scenario 3: Homework

Last week, when I was working with Watty over his behavior at school, I was using my iPhone to see what he’d been doing in school.  I could see all lesson plans for the day over the internet and could ask specific questions.  But he didn’t know that.

Mommy? Why are you playing Angry Birds while you talk to me?

Epic Parenting Fail.

Solution: It’s all in HIS planner.

Scenario 4: Church

I looked around last Sunday to see every adult surrounding me reading their bible on their phone.  (OK, there was one person updating Facebook with a check-in.)  I could see that they were using bible apps.  No big deal.

But to my child?

Mommy, why can they play games in church when I can’t?

Epic Parenting Fail.

Solution?  A paper bible.

Scenario 5: Mommy’s quiet time.

I try to take a few minutes to read my Bible, reflect, and pray for friends.  I normally do all of that on my iPhone or iPod or Laptop.

To my kids, that looks EXACTLY like when mommy is on Twitter.  or Facebook.  or Email.

Mommy?  Do you read the Bible?

Epic Parenting Fail.

Solution?  That paper bible.

I’m embracing my new analog lifestyle.

Honestly, I’ve always loved quality paper and a good pen.

I have this “thing” for office supplies.

Besides, much of what I do is still digital.  I’m just moving enough of it to paper for my kids to understand what I’m doing.

I refuse to beat myself up.

I discussed my realization with several friends (and at least two strangers).  I discovered I wasn’t alone.  Every single person confessed that they could relate.  Some of them hadn’t even thought of how all this digital stuff looked to their kids.  Others have already returned to paper.

I’m not alone.

I know I typed “epic parenting fail” but I really don’t feel bad.

(ok, i did for about 10 minutes.  then i moved on to solving the problem.)

It’s important that my children see me embrace technology, and long-term, they need to understand how to do all this stuff digitally.

Long term,

Digital > Analog.

I didn’t fail them.  I just skipped a step.

But for right now, they need baby steps.

They need to see mommy using a paper calendar.

They need to see me write out a to-do list, and then do it.

They need to see me curled up in a chair, pouring over a good book.

They need to see me writing words on paper… and to sneak a peek to discover my prayers for them.

Sound off.  How do you help your kids understand all this stuff?  Are you a digital or analog household? What works for you –  analog or digital parenting?

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. This is funny and true! I had started reading on my iPad but switched back to paper books…otherwise, my elder son would accuse me of playing Plants vs. Zombies on mute! And, paper books are so much better, anyway!!
    Roshni recently posted..Remembering the last day of school!My Profile

    • I love my Kindle and the convenience of buying a new book at 9pm. I’ve even started to get my 3rd grader into using it. But yes, most of the time, I still love the smell and feel of real books. (Remember, I’m the lady who cried when she finally got bookcases!)

      I’m not giving up my Kindle (reading books on the iPad drains it’s battery faster than I like). But I am taking the opportunity to read some “real” books that I haven’t read yet.

  2. Boy did this hit home for me. There is so much that our children might be misinterpreting from how technical our lives have become. I have been fortunate that I have stayed loyal to my paper planner. There is so much to help our kids continue to understand when it comes to technology. I think I will keep my paper bible in church. I do use an online one at home I will admit.

    Great post.

    Irish Carter
    Irish Carter recently posted..Meet Jeremy Sparks!  Military Officer and Retired Professional Bullfighter – Passionate People of 2012’s Newest Member – Part ThreeMy Profile

    • This was one of those unplanned parenting insights that I would never have anticipated. The kids made all those comments the same week that we lost internet. I’m so thankful for the big wake-up call.

      I’ll still use my online bible reference tools. I love having access to multiple translations and being able to click through to related verses. But that’s not the same as curling up and reading the bible like a book. I need to do both.

      When my grandmother passed away, the little handwritten notes that were crammed in her bible were so precious. There were prayers for each of us – some over 10 years old. It was such a powerful picture of her faithfulness and prayer life. I just can’t see a digital version having the same impact.

  3. Honestly, I’m struggling to be more of a digital parent. I was a bit overwhelmed with how digital the middle school had become–they can take paperless tests by simply pushing a button and there aren’t really any huge worries if your child forgets his textbook because it’s on-line. Wow, times have changed. I prefer to use cash but still had to have the “no, the bank atm doesn’t simply give us money when we run out” conversation. Maybe it’s simply about communicating more clearly about how and why we are doing things whether or not those things are digital or analog (does analog now mean ancient? LOL).
    Jean recently posted..Rolling Out a New Linen Closet Look, Part 1My Profile

    • I love digital because it feels less cluttered. The honest truth is that digital clutter can be just as out of control (just look at my photos – no, don’t) but we don’t see it.

      I spend less when I have cash. Dave Ramsey and his envelope system works. I feel like a dork, but it works.

      So when are you coming over to organize my closets? 🙂

  4. on their phones in church! Oh my. Our Priests ask that everyone turn their phones off or put them on silent, I never see anyone on their phones at all.

    I hear you about us all being too attached to technology, one time Dino hit my phone away, it broke my heart that he had to do that to get my attention. Now that I have to downgrade my phone, I am going to have to rely more on paper too.
    karen recently posted..When Dinosaurs AttackMy Profile

    • To clarify- they were using a bible app at church. I see nothing wrong with that. You version is a great resource. I love that people are reading along with the scripture in church. I have a few friends who tweet out their favorite takeaway from the sermon. Again, cool. Angry birds? Not cool.

      For what it’s worth, we are expected to mute the silly things during service. 🙂

      Playing angry birds during the sermon isn’t much different than coloring… Is it? Does it really matter if the distraction is digital or analog? Just food for thought.

      Sorry you had to give up your smartphone. I know that’s a blow.

  5. I still use a lot of paper. I love paper and pens! I also try to pay cash for everything (when I use my debit card I end up spending more than I budget). I also use good ole fashioned calendars. My kids on the other hand prefer everything digital. My oldest reads his Bible on his iPhone. At first it bothered me but then I realized I should just be thankful he’s reading his Bible on his own.
    Shannon recently posted..Interview With A California Artist On How She Stays OrganizedMy Profile

    • I agree – if your oldest is spending time in the Bible, then that’s something to be thankful for.

      I’m sure my kids will be like yours and prefer everything digital. Maybe once they learn how to actually use a calendar I’ll be free to do the same.

  6. We are definitely a combination family, with leanings more toward the digital side. I use paper to-do lists, calendars and I have a writing notebook that I use regularly.

    But I love my phone and my laptop, too. I remember when e-readers came out I was so against them. ‘I love books,’ I thought, ‘I want to hold it and turn the pages.’ Now, of course, I love my e-reader.

    I think I am embracing digital, just not as quickly as others. So my children are growing with a lot of analog exposure, as well.
    Co-Pilot Mom recently posted..CloserMy Profile

    • I think it’s important to pick the best of both worlds. Sometimes, analog just makes more sense. Sometimes, digital does. I adore my iPhone and all my techno gadgets. I’m not giving up my kindle(s). After over 10 years of working in product development for consumer electronics, I will always be an early adopter of new technology.

      But I’m also not giving up my favorite pen and note pad.

      I think we are so blessed to be able to choose both.

      Have you seen the new evernote moleskine notebook? In theory, you can take a photo of your handwriting and scan it into evernote. Complete with handwriting recognition. Won’t that be a sweet combination of both worlds!

  7. What a great post! I hadn’t really thought about those things, but it is definitely something to think about! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    (Found you through the Mommy-Brain Mixer)
    Jillian recently posted..Weekend Blog Walk #17- Blog & Social Media Link UpMy Profile

  8. I love this perspective on the perception we give off with digital. Never thought of that!
    Emily recently posted..What motivates your fitness goals?My Profile

    • I would never have thought about this either until my kids opened their mouths. When our pastor started using an IPad to preach from I thought it was really hip and cool. I was impressed. I would have never DREAMED that my kids thought he was playing games up there!

  9. Now you can exchange up to $3000 Canadian dollars a day into digital currency at the new machine in Vancouver.Bitcoin ATM

  10. Thanks for this valuable information for me! This will help me a lot! I am really thankful to for posting it 🙂

    This is really funny, I read it on my iPhone but came on PC to continue reading it! Please post more like this!

    Thanks very much!

  11. Nice and informative….. Successful communication is key in every successful business…. Understanding your subject and having good knowledge on your blog topic is always essential for a successful blog… Thanks for this post…..

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