Where do you fall in banning media and technology from your kids? What are your reasons?

I had a dinner party the other night and was struck by some parenting differences. It wasn't that there was bad behavior going on or anything like that. It was that there's a new iPad in the house and my 6-year-old was sitting on the couch schooling some tweens in how to use it.

One of the tweens looked at me, shocked, and said, "you let her use the iPad?"

"Of course!" I said. What is it for but to use? The apps my husband downloaded are all educational and she has very specific things she goes to online (toy sites, book sites, and YouTube for My Little Pony video clips). I told the tween where my daughter can go online.

"YouTube?! My mom says no way, I can never go there."

Picking Technology Sides

That gave me pause to think for a moment. My girlfriend (her mom) was sipping a whiskey sour right across the table from me. We share many values and loves (including the love of a great whiskey sour) — how could we see this so differently?

It made me take stock in what I allow and do not allow. My kids are 6 and 8. Their bedrooms and their school are completely technology free. They don't have cell phones.

But our living room and dining room are abuzz with laptops, desktop and a tablet, HDTV (for movies only — we don't have it hooked up to actually get TV channels). They are allowed Wii on Friday Family Nite.

In contrast, my friend sends her kids to a school that has some technology, the older one has a cell phone, the TV is hooked up to cable TV, they don't have a specific gaming-only time, they share one desktop computer and have a big text messaging plan for their phones.

She bans YouTube and I ban Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus.

She let her girls play with Bratz dolls and Barbies but then I let my daughter go to school with a Runaways t-shirt that said "I don't give a damn about my bad reputation."

Technology Use Mirrors Family Values

When I stopped to think about it, I realized that my kids have techno geek parents who like to try out new technology and love the way we are able to control the amount of advertising in our kids lives. We don't bother with it at school because we like the idea of old fashioned inquiry and study. I don't really think twice about my kids being on the net because I'm always in the room when they are going to very specific places to look up very specific things. I barely use my cell phone except for the Internet capability and some apps. We keep games to a minimum if they aren't games that can be interactive with more than one person. Hmm.

Neither of us let our kids have Facebook accounts yet. My girlfriend shields from the Internet the way I shield from TV. To her it's the potential for predators, sexual information, and foul language — too much of the net is not age-appropriate. The iPad is too expensive for kids to handle was the vibe I was getting. For me the Internet is much easier to control than the TV — I'm paranoid about advertising, short attention spans, and the general smart aleck-ness of kids shows and poor grammar. I'm paranoid about the message sent by the likes of bad pop music and dolls dressed like prostitutes. Or is it just that we're an Apple family and they're a PC?

What do you ban and what do you embrace? Do you know why you do it that way?

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