Screen Time Is for Chumps

Little girl typing on a baby blue typewriter

I've written before about my undying love of typewriters. The *clickety-clack* of the keys, the smell of the ink, the feeling of the machine under your hands... I even love the inevitable ink smudges you get on your fingers from pulling the paper off the drum too fast.

When your handwriting sucks, a typewriter is a super neat thing to have around. It adds a layer of nostalgia and sentimentality to physical communication (you know, like letters and shit), and while you could technically just use a monospace font in Google Docs and print off your own nostalgia with less hassle, that would be wrong and you should feel bad.

Oh, and imprints. The paper would be missing the imprints a real typewriter leaves when hammering each letter individually onto the page. Let's see you do that with your laser printer.

Because the sound of my typewriter has become a common theme song around my household over the last few years, it should come as no surprise that my kids have started to express interest in this perfectly valid and not-at-all nerdy hobby. Turns out, children get the same rush of joy when they see the letters they type show up immediately on a piece of paper that they can then take out and hold.

Who knew?

While I love my kids dearly, I love my 80-year-old Royal Arrow almost as much, and have discovered first hand just how utterly untrustworthy the (usually sticky) hands of a child can be. So, I did what any sensible parent would do and got them their own typewriters.

For those of you following along at home, this is what we call "indoctrination."

In the three weeks since my girls have had their own typewriters—Smith-Corona Coronet Super 12s, in case Tom Hanks asks—my wife and I have received about a dozen full page letters in gradually increasing states of readability (and have found about twice as many addressed to each other in every nook and cranny of their bedrooms).

More importantly, though, is that they've learned how to adapt to their mistakes. What you type is what ends up on the page, so you have to think before you write, and stay focused on the task. There's no "undo" button, and if you mistreat the machine, it will mistreat you right back. How many six-year-olds do you know that can unjam a typewriter, and strategically overwrite their typos? And screen time? Who needs screen time when you can type letters to your friends on your very own typewriter?!

While my love for other vintage technology hasn't quite rubbed off on them—even CD's are too much effort when you can just ask Alexa to play the latest Taylor Swift hit—I can't help but be proud of how much they've embraced this one simple tool. Sure, it won't play music (at least not anything that is officially recognized as music), and it won't download the latest episode of <insert children's television show here>, but it inspires them.

What more could a guy ask for?


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