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Why I Donâ™t Buy Toys & Keep My Kids (Somewhat) Unplugged

Either I’m thrifty, a dinosaur, or a mean, mean mommy. Or, maybe I’m all of the above. Because I don’t see the necessity---yet. Countless times over the last ten years I’ve witnessed each one of my kids entertain themselves with whatever surrounds them in the moment.

Our home is stocked with the “traditional” non-electronic toys such as board-games, puzzles, dolls, toy cars and action figurines, as well as a sundry of arts-and-crafts materials. Prolific collections of books, music and movies are all over the house.

I have been consciously recycling the same stash of kid-stuff for years, barring gifts given on special occasions. As far as electronic games go, the kids had a Leapster until it broke, and they own a DSI---which they rarely use since the novelty wore off months after purchase.

And after years of observation, I notice that the kids always revert back to the basics---to those games that require little more than a rich imagination and a playmate. Sure, like all other kids subjected to peer pressure and exposed to today’s relentless media, they will make an occasional argument in favor of the urgent need for an Ipad, Wii, cellular phone---whatever. But like everything else in their fickle, little worlds, these devices are quickly forgotten once another glorious day is spent without them. And even when mesmerized by a friend’s high-tech gadget, it gets tossed aside once the initial fervor subsides into indifference.

Admittedly, not owning hardly any sophisticated equipment makes my job as their mom harder. These electronic babysitters certainly would capture their attention for longer stretches of time and ultimately lead to less quarreling between them. (And yes, under such circumstances, my position as referee could very well cease to exist.)

Yet, my better judgment advises: “Spare them from the electronic addiction afflicting much of today’s youth and your kids will have a better shot at thriving creatively, intellectually and at mastering real-world, face-to-face interactions.”

So onward I march, encouraging them to flourish the good, old-fashioned way---by keeping them sweating through actual, “non-simulated” sports and “plugged into” their flesh and bone friends and family. And truthfully, I don’t worry about their preparation for tomorrow’s increasingly competitive job market; they are just as tech-savvy as their peers.

Look: I know I can’t hold out on them much longer; I, too orbit within today’s cutting-edge, high-tech sphere. Surely the time will come when Legos and Barbies no longer make the cut.

But today, my heart inflates with pride watching my kids evolve into resourceful little persons and deep thinkers---into kids who possess a real passion for a life in a world far, far away from Cyber-land.

Follow me on twitter @thewarriormom