kids and gadgets

One of my followers on Facebook posed the following question: How do you deal with not being able to provide all of the latest gadgets for your daughter?

I’m still close enough to my youth to appreciate the importance of stuff and fitting in when it comes to school but to be certain I asked Katie if she ever felt deprived with my method of handling the gadget situation.

She told me that she didn’t and to top it off her friend that was visiting declared that Katie’s stuff was “kewel” so I guess I’m doing something right.

For the record Katie doesn’t have a television in her room. We don’t even have a TV in the whole house and haven’t for years. We don’t have a stereo, game machines, DVD players or other gadgets either. We don’t even have cell phones!

When Katie became old enough to start wanting gadgets we sat down and had a talk. I explained that gadgets were very expensive and most of them only did a single thing. I went on to discuss how our budget was limited but despite that there was a way that Katie could have the functions of many gadgets in a single device by being very choosy about which one we picked.

At the time (this was before the invention of iPads and similar devices) the one device that could do it all was a laptop. You could play music, watch movies, play games, surf the Internet, communicate with friends and even have a portable phone of sorts by using Google Voice. My proposition was this: she could have one of the gadgets like her friends (which did only one thing) or I could give her my old laptop and show her how to do LOTS of things on it instead.

She chose the laptop and I showed her how to do all of the things I mentioned earlier and even more. Since the laptop was a very expensive item, I explained that if she tore it up we would not be able to quickly replace it so she needed to be really careful with the device.

The first year I had to erase the hard drive twice. Since she lost all of her files both times she learned a valuable lesson about taking care of her laptop.

Last year Katie finally asked me for another gadget. She had discovered that the iPod Touch would do almost everything that her laptop would but it was much smaller, had a better battery life and a camera that she could take pictures with. She explained all of the different advantages of the device and emphasized her desire to have something small enough that she could take to school with her.

Her request was granted.

Katie watching a movie on her iPod Touch.

Katie watching a movie on her iPod Touch.

We may not have lots of money to spend on every gadget that comes down the pike but by choosing our purchases carefully she can have something that does everything she wants it to do and even more.

This method has an added advantage: it teaches her that less can be more. It shows her that she doesn’t need to purchase every gizmo because most of them only do one or two things.

She still gets other items; we frequently go to yard sales and thrift shops where I allow her to purchase stuff at her discretion. This gives her the rush of new acquisitions without destroying my budget.

So far this method has provided us with a very happy medium: Katie has something that she can do lots of different things with and I have money left over in my finances. As a result I consider this a very happy success.

How do you deal with your children’s gadget needs? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Thank you so much for your help during my current challenge. You are awesome!

2 thoughts on “kids and gadgets

  1. Georgiagal

    We also do not own a tv. Our only major electronics are our computers. My husband finds free online games for our children to play as well as free children’s movies.

    Our children never/rarely ask for the new gadget trends. We keep them busy with other free and inexpensive activities.

    Our children love to play outside. We have a big backyard and lots of bikes found at yard sales. We’ve also taught them to enjoy drawing and reading books. Walks down by the river, hiking, playing at the park, library, etc are cheap and fun for the whole family. Hope these tips help someone.

  2. Laurie

    My oldest daughter has a laptop and an iphone. (her grandmother bought both of me, personally I don’t know why a child without a job would need an iphone). The youngest is happy to have a few hours a day on my computer. I plan to fix my old one for her, but first she has to show the responsibility to not throw it or eat at it leaving grease all over it. It is on it’s last legs after all and fixing it will cost money. she’s currently earning by learning to take responsibility for a single thing at a time. The best part is she has no idea that she is earning.


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