When I put out a call for freelance pitches last week, I also asked readers to send me post or topic ideas they’d like to read—even if they didn’t want to write them themselves. Which is how it came to be that a 53-year-old newspaper editor named Andy contacted me with an undeniably good idea: Parents should buy their kids a typewriter.
Andy, who did not want to write the post himself, laid out his case, which is flawless and goes a little something like this, but in my own words:
It’s a sensory experience
My work laptop has louder-than-usual keys, which would be incredibly annoying if I were sitting in an office with a bunch of us click-clacking away on it all day long. But since I spend my typing time alone in my office, I’ll admit that I freaking love it. When I really get going on a sentence, the clack-clack-clack-clack-CLACK is so satisfying—and is reminiscent of typewriter keys, which are even more clackity (my word, not Andy’s).
I realize I am likely in the minority in terms of adult opinion on these keyboards, but I am confident that most kids would agree with me that a noisy keyboard is more fun than a sweet, quiet keyboard.
It’s not just the noise of the keys, though—it’s how you have to be kind of punchy with your fingers, really exerting a little effort for each letter, which is great because our kids have pent up energy right now and we’ve long since run out of ideas for how they can release it.
Plus, the ding at the end of a line! The way it rollllllls back the other way to start a new line! What is not to love here? Here, enjoy four hours of typewriter sound effects:
You know what’s cool about typewriters? When you’re done typing your words, you don’t have to walk upstairs to turn on the printer, open up its little paper tray, connect to it, check your print preview, etc. Your finished product is—BOOM—in your hands immediately. It is instant gratification of a job well done, and no one appreciates instant gratification more than a child.
At the same time, it can help kids practice the art of making mistakes. I’m just going to go ahead and quote directly from Andy on this point, as he puts it best:
Typewriters teach kids to accept, embrace, honor and not be afraid of mistakes. Each typed letter or document is an individual creation. Errors make them unique, just like people.
More bonus reasons
Do you know how many times I have to hit the “delete” button in a given day? I hit it multiple times for this paragraph (and every paragraph) because my fingers insist on moving faster than than my typing accuracy level allows for. A typewriter is great for kids because it will make them slow down and be more mindful of what they’re typing, given that all those mistakes they’re learning from will be harder to fix.
Also, do you know what a typewriter doesn’t have? A screen! Instead of texting Grandma or sending a DM to a friend, they could type up letters to send to loved ones—all while not staring at yet another screen for a bit. (And letters are more fun to receive anyway.)
Now, as for which typewriter to buy, there is, of course, a subreddit for that. Or just check out your local thrift shop or Facebook Marketplace for an extra-affordable used option.