Our nine-year-old daughter wanted a Wii or I-Touch for Christmas: Santa didn’t deliver. She didn’t seem to notice Christmas morning. In fact, she loved everything she received.
My husband was the in-class reader at school around Thanksgiving time and casually asked the captive audience of third graders what they were thankful for this Thanksgiving. One child replied “I am thankful for my I-Pad!”
When he told me this, it led to a discussion, and we asked ourselves: “Does every child but ours have I-Pads and video games?” Thus began my informal inquiry into families and their ideas/rules regarding their kids and technology. How much is too much?
My husband owns a company that distributes traditional board games (chess, checkers, backgammon, etc.) so that may partly explain our hesitation to tap our kids into too much technology too soon. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I appreciate and take full advantage of the latest gadgets ourselves. We have I-Phones and I-Pads that we find invaluable for our work. But our kids? Do they have a Nintendo-DS? No. Playstation? Nope. I-Touch? Cell phone? Laptop? No, no, and no.
They are allowed to play games on the computer on pre-approved websites, they get to play Angry Birds and other games on our I-Phone and supervised games occasionally on the I-Pad. We limit screen time during the week to one 30-minute show or computer game after homework is completed. Weekends we are more lax.
I asked several mom friends about their family policies with regard to their kids and screen time. It was interesting to hear the different responses.
Jesyca Durchin: “I’m not overly concerned about screen time because I see the educational benefits. We set up our game console at the neighbor’s house so my son can only play video games with his friend and it becomes social time as well.”
Vanessa Herman: “We feel time spent in front of a screen is a waste and a distraction from what she should really be doing: playing and learning.Our one exception to this is while traveling: on an airplane she can watch or play all she wants.”
Mariah Martin: “If my son doesn’t do his reading, then no I-Pad time. We have no Xbox and no Wii, but he does have a DS that he plays with in the car on the way to school.”
Helen Webb: “I am the self-proclaimed TV-Nazi. My daughter is not allowed to watch any tv during the week at all. On the weekends she can watch movies (not television shows) and play limited games on the computer.”
After speaking with these mothers, I’ve concluded that we are all looking for balance in our kids’ lives—making sure our children are well-rounded and involved in many activities including sports, music, dance, etc. Some computer and TV time is fine, but you still need to tell your kids what my parents used to say to me: “Go play outside…”
By Columnist Danielle Avazian-Reyes