I’ve gotten some good input in the last few days on my post last week asking for input on how to manage kids’ screen time. Many thanks to Bernard, Carol, Michelle, and Nan for their comments.
It’s interesting to see what people have to say when the subject of kids and screens comes up. The reactions can run the gamut from television sets in every room of the house to banning them completely. People can get pretty passionate about the issue; thankfully everyone I talked to was very balanced and wonderful in the discussion.
Bernard made a great point in his comment that limiting television in his house forced he and his wife to do more parenting rather than allowing the TV to be a babysitter. Ouch. 🙂
Nan advocated not having television or video games at all, and even suggested not having computers in the house except for academic use.
Carol uses computers quite a bit as part of the home schooling process and suggests limiting games to educational topics and also using software such as Windows Vista to monitor the time each child has access to the machine.
Michelle reports that her boys are allowed to watch a certain number of shows on weekdays after school and then the television goes off. Weekends see an increase in screen time at her house.
I’d like to respectfully point out that there’s a dramatic difference between kids that are home schooled and those who are out of the home for school each day. On a typical day, we spend 3 or maybe 4 hours on lessons and activities. That leaves a lot of time for playing on the computer or watching television. Even when they spend a few hours playing with toys and each other, there’s still time for the screen. It’s just the nature of being at home all day.
So. All that to say that I’ve thought long and hard about it, and here’s my plan. It’s too late to banish all screens from the house, and I don’t really want to do that anyhow. There are good shows on television that we enjoy as a family, and I’d like to teach them good discernment skills so they choose appropriate programs when they’re older.
Also, after years of refusing to allow any kind of video game system in the house, Hubby and I have decided that we want to get a Wii after the holidays. The rule will be that family friendly games only are allowed, and the point is to attract kids to our place instead of the boys going away for time with friends. We’ve been slaving over renovation work in our basement, and it’s almost a fun place to hang out and spend time with friends and family.
I’m still thinking that I’ll get a software setup that limits computer time for each boy, because I do get distracted and forget to set the timer or boot them off the machines when they’ve played long enough. I really like the idea of pushing educational games. I failed miserably with the older boys on that score, but the younger ones seem more amenable to the idea. They’re all fanatics about playing on Ben10.com, so I can perhaps use that to everyone’s advantage by setting limits and perhaps adding a responsibility or two in there.
I’m also going to work harder at activities for the boys that occupy their hands and attention for longer periods of time. The older boys got their hands on some switches, bulbs, and wires and have had a ball building their own circuits. I think they’re about ready to learn some simple soldering (with extreme supervision). They’ve also been learning how to bend metal for making jewelry, and I’m planning to get them into a class or two over the winter. Now to figure out what would entertain a pair of 5 year-olds.
Thanks everyone, for helping me work out some of this plan. 🙂
Earnest Parenting: advice for parents who want their children to be balanced.