Rewild your Child

No screen time before age two, period. Reduce your own screen use in family spaces. De-screen common living areas and normalize analog pastimes and traditions; music, fine arts, reading, out loud story time, board and card games, help in the kitchen with cooking, candlelight hang-outs. Eat meals together as much as possible, with no screens permitted; respect the culture of the table.

Always, at every turn, reinforce the message that the real world is more interesting than the screen world. Point out every flying or perching bird, every darting squirrel, every crawling caterpillar, every passing cloud, every interesting shadow, every tree waving its branches in the wind. Make a religion out of doing this. Let your kids touch dirt, skin their knees, hide in bushes, climb boulders and trees. Nature, wherever you can find it, is the “app,” the “platform,” the “interface,” the “engagement” kids crave and need.

Rather than teach your kids what a smartphone can do, teach them that they don’t need one. Put fishing rods, ski poles and buck knives (almost anything, really) into their hands. Get them hiking and paddling before swiping and scrolling. Get them building lean-tos and forts before building Minecraft cities. Get them looking at plants, animal tracks and rocks before looking at "nature apps." Give them paper maps and compasses before you give them Google Maps.

If you don’t mold your kids’ values early on, the tech moguls will.

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