Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tech Addicts

Hello. My name is Natalie and my children are technology addicts. And it's driving me crazy.

TV. Computer. Wii. Nintendo DSi XL. Am I forgetting anything?

For the longest time, we didn't have a Wii. We didn't have any sort of handheld computer game except Leapsters that the boys really only used when we traveled. And then we got a Wii and the whole slippery slope started.

So last school year, I got so annoyed by the kids running out of school to meet me and instead of saying, "Hi, Mommy! I had a wonderful day at school! Can we go home and do our homework and read the Hardy Boys?" I heard, "Can I watch TV? Can I play Wii?" Over. And Over. And Over Again.

I think my head finally spun all the way around and pea soup flew out of my mouth.

And we decided that Monday through Thursday there would be no electronics or TV. That tended to make the weekend a bit of a free for all, and I do sometimes have to lift the Weekday Ban when I have to have a phone meeting and I confess I let them watch TV/play Wii/whatever to keep them out of my hair while interviewing people. It doesn't happen very often. At least not often enough to satisfy the boys.

Anyway, I've been somewhat lax lately in enforcing the Weekday Ban and I can tell because we're back to the "Can I play Wii. . ." or fill in the blank with the electronic of the moment here and you get the picture. I blame myself for being inconsistent and getting back into this. And I do confess that with summer coming I see the vast expanse of hours before me and the endless chorus of Wii/DSi demands. My head is throbbing a little just thinking about it.

But then again it might be the sinus headache I have from all of the snow that has continued to fall for the last four days. But I'm just guessing.

So I'm curious. What do the rest of you do about computer/TV time during the school year and/or summer? Do you kids have to earn the time? Do you have a set number of minutes they can have screen time?

Because my own video game experience is pretty limited to Atari in the 1970s. And of course when I steal Declan's DSi and play Sudoku after he goes to bed. Not that he needs to know about that.


Anonymous said...

We didn't have a game system until my youngest turned 16...and we got a Wii....before that they played video games at friend's houses...and we rented one for birthday parties. We do have a pool table and a basketball hoop both of which got plenty of use.

Kristie said...

Well, we still don't have any kind of gaming system except for Wii, which the kids rarely play .... although they could (and would) spend hours on the computer playing games, and on Kellen's new ipod touch that he bought with his own birthday money, so I'm not sure there's much of a difference .... its still games.

This was not as much of a problem for us in Georgia because we had a lot of children on our street and "Go outside and play" was usually met with enthusiasm. Here in OK, they are the only three kids on the entire block. Just how many hours are they supposed to spend shooting hoops or riding bikes by themselves before they get bored?

Even if we invite friends over, the first thing they want to do is get on the computer to watch YouTube videos, or comandeer both the laptops to challenge one another in online games .... (sigh)

We have the no tv Mon-Thu rule, which we break consistently so *I* can watch my shows and they watch with me ... but no Disney or Nick or any of those. Weekends, like you said, I don't think the tv is turned off. I watch a lot with them (two solid hours of Untold Stories of the ER yesterday ... but at least we were enjoying it together)

This summer, I'm probably going to take the attitude that I'll keep them busy and outside (swimming, parks, etc) as much as possible, and we go to the library once a week, they have camps, etc. But I'm pretty sure when we're home, it will be Technology Central. Makes me sad, but at this point I'm just too tired to fight it anymore.

Lauren said...

This is a challenge here too. We don't have a game system of any kind yet, partly because Fergus is already too obsessed with the few games he's found online and partly because we're just holding fast arbitrarily. In theory they can use the computer for 30 minutes in the afternoon during the week, but it often bleeds closer to an hour. On weekends they can have two 30+ minute sessions.

The TV is easier because it's now upstairs in a room that doesn't pull anyone in and it is only on for a specific show. Most weekdays it doesn't get used by anyone, though again in theory a show could be watched if computer time was skipped. We now watch Survivor together on Thursdays but that's almost the only thing Rob and I even watch TV-wise. We have movie nights on Fridays. On weekends, the kids might ask for some time with DVD episodes of some shows they have or that we've taped--Ben 10 and The Clone Wars being the big ones.

The summer will be tougher, and we'll probably say 2 hours screen time total. My iPhone gets pulled into that at times and I have to remind them it is a screen too!

We might actually be breaking our game system ban this summer. At first Fergus was saving money toward buying his own DS. He did well for a while but it was painfully slow. Then I hit on my version of reward/bribe: there are some things, skills even, that he doesn't have because of his own fears. He will barely ride a bike because of worry and although he loves to be in the water, he hates the feeling of losing contact with the ground and thus won't really swim. Though Norah is a biking fanatic, his friends aren't big bikers so there is no incentive. Same with swimming. So...when I know fear is an issue for him, I offer big rewards. Thus, if he learns to bike and swim this summer (as in can swim across the pool and can bike up and down the road), we'll get either a DS or a Wii. It might be a Wii because Rob is more worried about that personal disappearance into the little hand held device that we see in so many kids. A Wii will stay where it is and can involve all of us if we want. We'll see what Fergus masters--the best part is I know he'll love both biking and swimming once the fear hurdle is overcome!

Lisa said...

Hey Natalie!

I live with Tech Addicts as well! It is soooo much easier to let them have time on rather than fighting them all the time. However, I hate seeing my boys waste time on "screens." However,I will continue to fight the fight(until I want to watch Oprah without being interrupted OR maybe talk on the phone, etc.) Enough is enough!

Julie said...

Oh we have the same problem in our house with my 6.5 yr old son and the stupid Wii. He refuses to go out in the backyard and play most of the time. He brings home a weekly homework packet that takes him 30 minutes to finish on Monday, so can't use that as daily bait. I try and limit his Wii time to one hour, preferably after dinner if he actually eats all his dinner. The Ds is only for weekend use (or long car/ plane rides). I usually give in and let him watch videos late in the afternoon for my sanity or otherwise I would really have to entertain him. The things he can access on the computer are pretty educational, so I let him do that if he asks. Summer is going to be difficult. I sure look forward to the daily homework next year!

Anonymous said...

I sent a reply yesterday but it didn't make it to the list.

We have a no screen time Mon-Thur evening. It was easier when she was younger and it's become harder to enforce this year. Everything seems to be a battle and I kind of quit picking this one. Although a few times I just pulled the on-line plug. But she does use it for school as well.

We don't have a Wii but she has an iTouch to replace her 4 year old iPod and she got a DS for car trips since we don't have a DVD player. She uses the Wii at her friends or when she babysits. She also doesn't have her own cell, she shares with me. She is a bit of an OCD personality so gets sucked into stuff very easily and struggles to bypass the temptation so not sure if she'll get a cell this fall or not. She sure hasn't earned it this year!

One thing my husband pointed out is that we do need to allow our kids time on the games and computers to keep up with society. These types of skills will be expected when they are looking for jobs. It's such a fine line to make sure they have the skills but aren't sucked into the electronic abyss.

One other interesting comment from our 8th grader...they are texting less because of too many misunderstandings. They are actually talking on the phone more here. She also isn't interested in a myspace or FB because of the fights and trouble that happens there. It could also be because Mom is on FB. :+)

A difficult battle for us parents. Walking that fine line...


Kristie said...

Connie, I came back to read the comments and just wanted to say .... my daughter got on FB, which I was already on, earlier this year when she turned 13. I check her account daily and she knows that. Imagine the look on my face when I discovered she had become a fan of "Why you shouldn't be facebook friends with your parents" or some other page like that ..... ha!!

Beth said...

We always limited screen time back in the day. But now I'm pretty lax, but my kid doesn't over do it. Well, she'd watch 4 hours of Handy Manny if I let her, but I don't.

With my typically developing kids, they were allowed 30 minutes of computer time each, up until they were 12 years old. They then got an extra 10 minutes added on each birthday. They were required to practice their instruments before they could touch the computer. They weren't into TV at all, so it was all the 'puter. I did give them opportunities to earn more time--extra chores and whatnot. Occasionally I'd catch one or the other doing something nice, and I'd reward the child with some extra time.
When they turned 16 they had no restrictions on the computer (other than random checks, parent oversight). I wanted them to have experience online while still in our house rather than setting them loose in college without any knowledge of what's out there.

If Hannah has an hour or two of solid exercise/outdoor time, I don't mind if she relaxes with some electronic media. But the rule has always been she must ask first.