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Abbi talks tech and parenting

April 14, 2012

Abbi Holtom Whitaker is plugged in. If it’s mentioned on Mashable, trending on Google+, or going viral on YouTube, she knows about it. As owner of the Reno public relations and marketing firm The Abbi Agency, staying on top of the social media tech curve is a vital part of her job.

But as mom to two young children, Abbi faces the same struggles all of us gadget-happy parents do.

“My children don’t let me use my phone past 5 o’clock,” Abbi says. “They will take it out of my hand and tell me, ‘Mommy, it’s family time and you don’t get on your phone.’ They’re really strict with me.”

And Abbi says she gets to be just as strict back when she tells her 2- and 5-year-old, “Get off the iPad. We’re going to go outside to play.”

“It’s such a battle,” Abbi says. “Do I want my children to know how to use those tools? One-hundred percent because that’s probably what’s going to guide them in their jobs and in their futures. But I do think it’s really important to set barriers to when you can use that and when you can’t.”

As part of her tech vs. traditional parenting strategy, Abbi and her husband, Ty, work to create a home that’s interesting and engaging for their kids beyond the screens.

“We created a garden, we got chickens, we plant,” Abbi says. “As parents it’s our responsibility to lead by example. That’s hard and it takes time and it takes energy, but that’s our responsibility.”

What does the digital world look like for the Whitaker kids when they’re ready to launch their own networked lives?

“I think I’d let them start getting on Facebook when they’re around 15 or 16, maybe a little younger.” Abbi says. “I think the longer I can keep them away from it, the better.”

In the meantime, her daughter loves nothing more than to have a no-tech tea party, Abbi says. “So that’s what I try to focus on.”

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