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Would you discuss this "screen time" article with me

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Hi,

I read this very interesting article on screen time and computer games.

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201201/the-many-benefits-kids-playing-video-games

 

Please let me know your opinion.

 

It is about the one thing that was always a bit puzzling to me. My kids do sit in front of a screen for hours if given the chance. And I don't like the behaviour they express afterwards. Like really unfocused and hyper. than - they are pretty little, maybe you cannot expect selfregulation in something like that before a certain age - I don't know.

 

I want to trust my kids that they know best what to do with themselves, and they do play very elaborate games with open ended toys. There screentime is limited to once a week and we do not have a tv set.

 

I am personnally very biased about it. I loooove screens. My Dad was a computer engineer - so we had our first Mac when I was about ... I don't know - seven? We always had computers, long before they were common in home offices. I am not an computer addict. (but I like to surf a lot - taking time from my kids with it)

 

What do you think?

Does anyone have children who "freeze" before a screen and has let them use it like they wanted to?

post #2 of 20
My kids are still little, 2 and 4. I know what the recommendations are for screen time and I ignore them. My kids do have amped behavior right after screen time but a stern look and reminder, "If you cannot control yourself you lose the privilege of the next screen time. My kids get the iPad twice a day for an hour or an hour and a half. Those times are down times for me so I can go in a silent room and calm down. PTSD is a bitch to manage. I don't feel too guilty though because they spend 6+ hours every day having free play. It will work out.

My husband is a programmer. I limit screen time with young kids because I believe deep in my gut they need to have kin esthetic experiences. Screens aren't. They are auditory and visual.

I expect that by the time my youngest is five I won't limit any more. They have to live in this world. That means managing the things that are in it.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 

Okay, interesting. What would you do if they would do nothing else except screens for HOURS?

post #4 of 20

My dd had a HORRIBLE reaction to screen time as a toddler. We were completely screen free (we never had anything on when she was awake) until she was a year old. After that, I was having a tough time with a lot of things and thought I needed the breaks so I started to let her watch tv and wow did it make her miserable and cranky. I had to really really limit it. Then when she turned four those negative effects subsided a lot. It doesn't really affect her anymore (that I can see anyway) so I will admit I do let her watch/use the computer more than I did years ago. 

She is five now and I do have to have strict control over it. She is one of those zone-out kids. I am 100% positive she would stare at the screen from sundown to sunset if I let her. It's been an unbelievably hard thing for me. It's one of the few parenting issues I'm still so unsure about. On one hand I want her to enjoy using these things and having the ability to relate to what others in society are interested in and on the other I just hate hate hate the idea of annoying cartoons being more important than real life. 

I guess in the end, if I could go back with what I know now I would probably choose to stay screen free but I feel like I've let the cat out of the bag so to speak and can't really go back at this point. It's tough. 

post #5 of 20

I also wanted to add that I really disagreed with this article and stopped reading after becoming physically ill when they went insane and implied READING the works of shakespeare as a teenager with an entire book and curriculum to give an almost adult child the context and guidance to understand it  is somehow more damaging than taking a child of any age and endlessly bombarding them VISUALLY with images of violence and murder with no context at all (while also being encouraged to commit those acts no less). I can't say how offensive and unbelievable I find that. They ask how is there any difference and I ask how are there any similarities? Visually witnessing unnecessary violence for FUN and learning history in context when a child is older could not be more different. 

Sorry but this gets me SO heated. While I clearly waffle back and forth on whether screens are appropriate, I certainly do not on content. Content matters ...  It cannot matter more! 

There's a lot I worry about but I'm surely not losing sleep over my dd's inability to kill zombies.

post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 

I hear you, I found that weird, too. i think there is a major difference to actually killing people on screen than to read about someone who killed. plus i think one is making their ow pictures inside when reading which can become very "real" (i sometimes can not say if I read a book or saw it as a movie because I have very detailed pictures in my head)

 

Plus I find it frightening that people are not disturbed by movies anymore, think "SAW" - that IS disturbing, but most people think it's entertaining. I don't think that is a good sign.

 

But on the other hand, I can totally control "what" they would watch, since we do not have tv. only dvds.

 

(Didn't people drop dead in front of a computer because they "forgot" that there was a real body somewhere? Or is this an urban legend?)

post #7 of 20

I agree with the article. I've never seen ill effects from my ds using the computer extensively. He might have gotten cranky from being tired or hungry when he was younger. I'll grant that kids are different and other kids may have different reactions. And I know tv can be overstimulating for some young children. I remember visiting someone who had the tv on when ds was a baby. He stared at the tv for a few minutes and then burst into tears. Of course, he reacted similarly to my flipping through a magazine quickly. My ds had no interest in tv, other than turning it on and off, until he was 3yo. He did love the computer and started using it at 18 months, working the mouse and typing. The computer, being more interactive, has always been more appealing to him.

 

Although my ds kills zombies, and even innocent people, in computer games, he gets upset if people squash bugs or if babies cry, IRL. He doesn't hit other kids or say mean things to them. Playing computer games isn't much different than playing cops and robbers. It's experimenting with being in a position of power and something all kids do in some way through role playing, whether it's with Legos, Barbies, or Polly Pockets.

 

I think it's difficult to guess how much a child would naturally choose to watch tv or use the computer if they have ever had limits. Kids are smart. They will use the tv/computer as much as they can while they can if rules have been changed. It isn't until they feel secure that the rules aren't ever going to change that their true choices will show. They can sense unspoken disapproval of their activity choice and that may also sway their choices. There has to be other appealing options for there to be a true choice, as wll. For kids who don't get to decide when they are going to go where, whether to refresh the art supplies, etc, computers and tvs can become an easy default simply because kids aren't as independent as they might like or because they don't know what other options exist. 

post #8 of 20

I don't think this article is talking about toddlers. IME, toddlers need a ton of guidance with learning to follow their body's cues as to when they need to sleep, eat, and take a break from an activity. Most toddlers are not going to simply self regulate. How a toddler reacts to something or fails to self regulate doesn't determine how they will be as school aged children who have been raised with guidance rather than strictly limited screen time rules.

post #9 of 20

It depends on the kid. My daughter could easily have unlimited access to the computer (and other screens) She decides she's done with the computer and goes outside, or asks to help make supper, or plays with her sister, etc. My son would go on the computer before breakfast, not eat until he was starving, not get up to use the toilet until it was an emergency all day. He'd begrudgingly come have supper with us but monopolize conversation at the table to tell us everything he'd done online.  When he isn't allowed online, he's asking one of us to play a game so he can watch. There's no self-regulation there, he needs us to do it for him (which causes a power struggle so the kids computers are put away for the summer)

post #10 of 20

I spend most of my day in front of a screen.  at least i remember what it was like "before".

i'd like my kids to remember that too.

 

when they end up struggling with the same internet addiction we all have to some degree at I hope they will at least know of a different way to be.

 

i know kids who dont know what to do without a screen in front of them.

post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4evermom View Post

Although my ds kills zombies, and even innocent people, in computer games, he gets upset if people squash bugs or if babies cry, IRL. He doesn't hit other kids or say mean things to them. Playing computer games isn't much different than playing cops and robbers. It's experimenting with being in a position of power and something all kids do in some way through role playing, whether it's with Legos, Barbies, or Polly Pockets.

 

 

 

This is kind of off topic but I just wanted to say that Legos are very different than playing any video game. A child can decide what to do with Legos. It's up for interpretation. Yes, they may choose to do something "bad" with them (throw them at people, use them to squish bugs) but they are free to choose how they are used and what they will use them for.

Most video games follow a fixed path forcing you to do the "right" or wrong" thing. This isn't giving kids freedom and power, it's subjecting them to following the order/rules of the game. That's quite limiting. I've seen lots of these games, even ones aimed for very young kids, that make snarky remarks when you choose the wrong thing. Even basic sports games have the character hang their head in shame when they lose the match. Then when you add in all the violence and truly awful stuff ... We are actively encouraging in these games everything we say we don't want for our kids. They show them the worst of humanity, bad sportsmanship, to be mean, not to care if you hurt someone to get what you want.

Now all this may or may not be damaging to children in the end. I obviously think it is but why send such mixed messages. I know so many people who go on and on about teaching their kids by example, always asking them to do the right thing and share and be polite and then go on to encourage them to use their entertainment time to blow up peoples heads. I can't help but find that to be really bizarre. 

post #12 of 20

Possibly all the computer games my ds chooses are more open ended than the ones with which you have experience. The thing is, the kids are choosing which games to play. So the computer is just as open ended (more so, really) as Legos. You can chose to play an MMORPG or you can choose the game that makes snarky remarks. My ds has always hated games designed to be educational because they must be played in a rigid way with the annoying sound effects if you don't do it "right," and you aren't allowed to move on to another area until you complete the first. 

post #13 of 20

i tell you - my response would have been much different as a mother of a 2 or even 3 year old rather than a mom who has btdt with an almost 10 year old. 

 

i agree with the article. i also believe he is not talking about toddlers. 

 

yes definitely there is a LOT to learn from video games. response time AND strategy. absolutely. 

 

i do agree with him that no one protests when a child can read for 10 hours straight. because i protest. i let her for a day or two but after that you'd hear me yelling 'go play on hte computer'. 

 

shows on tv (dd watches anime shows on the computer) i do admit she gets a lot out of them. she never really watches shows for what it is. watching a ninja turtle at 4 she asked why is a hero a hero if he is killing the bad guy just like the bad guy killed a good guy. why does the hero have to kill. 

 

i also agree with him about having to sit through shakespeare's murder of hamlets stepfather. i remember at one time kids were actually murdering using the tactic from a new detective book. i think in the 70s. 

 

my biggest pet peeve - are educational games. whether video or not. i just hated, hated that about childrens toys and games. WHY? is there nothing else to life apart from teh abcs, numbers and shapes and colours. gosh they will learn that in time. why give your child teething alphabets. 

 

lastly lets look at the man writing it. and where its written. plus the fact he is a father too. 

 

you know games are also about choices and interpretations. gosh sometimes i think video game is so much better than afterschool soccer. all those unsportsmanlike parents. 

 

i think today children have changed their life NOT because v. games came on the scene. it is their lack of choices that have pushed them onto video games. 

 

how many kids have the choices we had growing up.

 

where are the kids to play with? where is nature to hang out in (no backyard is NOT nature). where is unsupervised play. being the mother of a 9 year old makes me more aware of how limited her choices are than when i was growing up. fear has changed our children's lives. not computer games or tv. 

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

i think today children have changed their life NOT because v. games came on the scene. it is their lack of choices that have pushed them onto video games. 

That is so true. I grew up on a street with a ton of kids. Most had one stay at home parent so they were around after school. Most of their parents were married to each other so they didn't go anywhere on weekends. We'd play games outside when the weather was nice. We were members of a swim club (They are expensive private clubs around here, no free or affordable public community pools). My son doesn't have any of that. We never see kids outside. They are all in after school programs until they are old enough to be home alone. Even the homeschooled kids are too scheduled to come to weekly parkdays for a couple of hours. There is no one to play with so ds uses the computer.

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 

That is really interesting and thought provoting! Thank you.

 

Actually, my DD came downstairs yesterday from watching DVDs telling me: I don't wanna watch anymore, I'll do something else.

That was the first time EVER! Maybe they are just still too young to "know" there own limits and I will be able to be less strict about it in a while.

 

I live very rural, so our kids "can" be in nature. But I do agree, there are not that much kids around to actually play with. Plus the social problems my two have, making it difficult for them to find kids who want to play with them.

 

I WANT to be able to trust their decision, but I don't like this zoning out one bit.

 

 

Quote:

i do agree with him that no one protests when a child can read for 10 hours straight. because i protest. i let her for a day or two but after that you'd hear me yelling 'go play on hte computer'.

My parents protested all.the.time. that I was reading too much. And DD is listening to Audiobooks for hours on end, I do protest about that. And I would protest about hours of reading as well.

 

 

Quote:

i also agree with him about having to sit through shakespeare's murder of hamlets stepfather. i remember at one time kids were actually murdering using the tactic from a new detective book. i think in the 70s

Here I do disagree. Maybe there was a murder like that in the 70s - but how many shooting were there like in the last five years following extensive ego-shooter playing? Even down here in germany where people ususally don't even have guns! (I never read Hamlet though, so I don't really know how brutal it is.) - Obviously I don't know if aggressive people tend to play egoshooters before they actually shoot someone or the other way round.

But I have a problem with shooting people for fun - even on screen.

post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Triniity View Post

But I have a problem with shooting people for fun - even on screen.

 

Just wanted to say this is exactly how I feel.

post #17 of 20

Gamer Geek here from a Gamer Geek family.

 

I agree with the article, for the most part--except for the holier than thou stuff about "well, I trust my kids to make their own decisions about screen time."  I think that may very much be kid specific.  I do think that whoever put the picture of the two LITTLE kids in there probably did it a disservice though;  I also believe that the author is speaking of older kids when it comes to the managing their own time though.  It seems to be written in frustration for screens being the de-facto scapegoat, and I can definitely understand that sentiment.

 

My kids do play "fighting" games (Super Mario Brothers who stomp on people, Kirby who eats people, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, ect) and have played the multiplayer Halo (more strategy than blood splatter--I wouldn't let them play the story game).  They also love Portal 2 and other strategy games (but you can still "die").  We are terrible parents and let them watch (restricted to certain series of course) anime too, since they are nuts for it.  But yet they get upset at "real" violence on the movie screen and are super sensitive to it because they have not been exposed to it (we don't watch TV and only occasionally go to the movies) really.  My daughter, who has been playing video games since she was 4, cringed her way through the violence in the last Alvin and the Chipmunks movie because (part of it anyway) involved things appearing to happen to the actors.  She also gasped and was shocked at the stepmother slapping the kids around in the old version of The Parent Trap.  While kids may like to pretend a lot, and what they do often reflects in their play, thus leading adults to think that kids don't know the difference between video game happenings and real life--I think that's a crappy assumption that kids are stupid, and that it's also an untrue assumption.

 

I also see the author's point about the books.  I know that I am weird, but I am an extremely visual person, so when I was reading stuff like Crime and Punishment and Anna Karenina when I was 12 and going through my Russian Literature fangirl phase, I found those just as scary and disturbing as the Nightmare on Elm Street movie that I saw later that year.  Even contemporary stuff, like Ender's Game (one of my all time favorites at that age!) and stuff I snuck out of the library (like the Flowers in the Attic series bag.gif ) had just as much of an impact on me at 12 than anything I watched on a screen.  Can't say much to Shakespeare, I didn't really enjoy the plays until I was older and could hear them performed--for whatever reason reading a play script doesn't do much for me (and not for MANY youngsters I'd think--which is why I would support bringing out the evil screen to SHOW the plays in addition to reading them, like all my best teachers did).

 

While kids do have greater exposure to screen time, many also now do not live in an area where it is feasible/have parents who would allow them even if it was to a) bike to the store/park/pool/friends house on their own, b) have the space to roam/build forts/ect that are more big kid things to do than just a swingset.  Kids seem to be funneled more into organized activities in the privledged set (I live in the suburbs, so I consider myself privleged here and cannot say I feel comfortable speaking about those who are not), like soccer, swim team, dance, ect. which when combined with school seems to leave them with very little time to just fart around, and screen time becomes the down time for convenience/to cut down the whining of 'I'm bored'.  I think it's that kind of thing that contributes more to obesity/kids with no tolerance for boredom/kids who seem clueless on how to entertain themselves than the screen gadgets themselves.  Much easier to blame the screens though.

 

DH and I have a very liberal hand in what we allow our kids to do during screen time (except for ultra-violent stuff, they're not going to be playing Saints Row or anything, sorry; and we limit sexual innuendo stuff, like what happens in SWTOR/Knights of the Old Republic, even though our kids are Star Wars nuts...I'd be comfortable letting them play that once they're in their mid teens though).  We're even more liberal with books/music.  OTOH, we make sure they get to experience being "bored" a lot since we can't afford to put them all on 5 elite sports teams, ect.  We have property so they can run around in the woods, and we allow them to use (non-power) tools to build structures, ect.  Obesity and inability to entertain themselves is not a problem here, not because we're so great or my kids are perfect but they seem to have had just more exposure to figuring that out on their own than their peers.

post #18 of 20
Quote:

 

 

Here I do disagree. Maybe there was a murder like that in the 70s - but how many shooting were there like in the last five years following extensive ego-shooter playing? Even down here in germany where people ususally don't even have guns! (I never read Hamlet though, so I don't really know how brutal it is.) - Obviously I don't know if aggressive people tend to play egoshooters before they actually shoot someone or the other way round.

 

 

Do you mean volume of people killed by mass shootings, or number of events?  It seems like the number of events has remained pretty constant over the decades.  The volume of people killed, though--I do think that has changed.  Technology has improved. When someone's up in the clocktower with a rifle, they do have to at least have some skill to hit people and there's a greater limit on how many shots you can take at one time AND the time inbetween shots.  When you have someone armed with a high-round magazine capable semi-automatic weapon at close range in a large crowd--well, it's a little easier.  We also live in an era where that news is splashed all over the world as it happens, so it seems like it happens "more often" but the sad reality is that SOMETIMES more people get killed, but these type of events have happened on a regular basis (at least in the US) since the 1800s and I would be shocked if they haven't happened in europe as well on a fairly regular basis--which is not often, and why it's memorable.

post #19 of 20
My 2 cents.

We are a family that had put a limit on reading. Rules like no reading at meals, and you have to go outside for awhile, but you can take your book. Kids can get obsessed with anything.

I like the idea of self regulating for screen time, and it's something my kids usually do well with. From time to time, they need me to set limits, and I'm ok with that.

I think the goal throughout childhood/teen years should be to working toward self regulating. The adults I know who are the biggest tv addicts are the ones who didn't get to watch tv as kids.

None the less, if school weren't starting in a couple of weeks, we would need to do something different about screen time because my kids are using WAY too much of it right now. It will drop off dramatically in a couple of weeks with school, activities, and friends, so I'm fine with the ebb and flow. But if it wasn't an ebb and flow but just consistent overuse, I would set limits. I see that as part of my job as a mother. Kids have parents for a reason.

(btw, my kids are 14 & 15)
post #20 of 20

I think screen time is just like anything else — moderation is the key. My kids both have (old) computers (DH is a techie) and they like to get on them from time to time, but they have never been very into games. They do play Angry Birds sometimes on their (old) iPhones (no phone connection).

 

They're also not into board games, although dd2 likes them some and likes some cards. Dd1 is perhaps the least competitive person I have ever met. So for them self regulation for computers/iPhones/video games is easy. They're not that into it. We also do have parental controls on the computers that limit the time they can be on there.

 

What dd1 is really into, and dd2 to some extent, is creating manga both online (Disney) and on their machines. I don't really have a problem with that unless it's interfering with other things they need to get done (homework, chores, etc).

 

I don't have a problem with ice cream in moderation, but I wouldn't let them eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. To me the screen time thing is similar. They need to learn what a balanced diet is. They need to pay attention to how their body and mind feels after they eat that bag of Twizzlers and they know now that they feel yucky if they have too many sweets and not enough fruits and veggies. 

 

They need to have some outside time. Don't we all get stiff and sore if we sit in front of the computer all day? I know I get "sucked in" and need to get up and do other things to re-set my equilibrium. It's very similar to feeling like I just need a salad for supper if I've had a huge heavy lunch with chocolate cake for dessert.

 

I do think restricting computers completely is doing kids a disservice at some point. They do have to live in this world and learning to type and get around on a computer is truly going to be a necessity for them. It will be like driving or using the telephone. It's hardly optional.

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