Friday, May 24, 2013

Screen Time

When I was a waitress back in the day, I used to get on a rant about families who let their kids play on their DS or iPhone at the table. When I became a teacher, I totally saw the effects of kids who were used to being constantly entertained by media. I was convinced that TV and video games were the devil as far as kids were concerned. And then I became a mom. Fast forward seven years, and we have three boys, a Netflix subscription, two iPhones, high speed Internet (recent upgrade - woot woot!), 2 laptops, a DS, Wii, Xbox, Rock Band, Kinect, and portable DVD player for the car. Speak of the devil...

We really did try to shield little baby Reed from television. I remember when he was barely old enough to sit up, we were watching a movie one afternoon with him in the room. Feeling guilty, I strategically placed a large toy to block his view of the television. He grabbed the link-a-doo rings that were attached to the toy and leaned back so he could catch a glimpse of the action. Ever since then, if the TV is on, Reed is a total zoner. When we go to people's houses where the TV is on for background noise, he will only make halfhearted attempts to play with friends, even if it's an infomercial. And when my high tech older brother passed down his Nintendo DS, there became another object of my boys' affection.

So I'll admit, there are times when the boys look like this:

or this:

But we do try to limit their screen time as much as possible. Here's what has worked for us so far:

- Each boy gets one 20 minute turn on the gaming system of their choice. They know not to ask for more. They are responsible for setting their own timer (actually, they usually have their sibling set it for them so they don't lose any seconds of play time). When the timer dings, they can "finish their level"if it doesn't take too long. Max has started taking an iPhone turn while his brothers watch each other play on the DS. He basically opens up all the apps, shoots angry birds backwards, and tries to delete or buy things, but he thinks he's big stuff and he leaves me alone for 10-20 minutes so it's all good. He's also the master timer watcher for his brothers. "Timer ding!"
- They get to watch one movie (or a few short episodes of a show) on Sat. and Sun. mornings. This is totally so Mommy and Daddy can sleep in. Max hasn't gotten that memo yet, though...
- The boys know not to ask for more TV or game time. They are pretty diligent about getting their 20 minute turn in each day and we wake up EVERY Saturday and Sunday to a whispered, "Can we watch our movie?" but they don't usually push for more. I guess they got tired of hearing "No."
- The Wii, Rock Band, and Kinect are basically for family fun. With all three, we played almost every night for the first week, and now we might play one of them once a month when the mood strikes. This summer, I figure they'll be our rainy day saviors. That and Pinterest. The bigguns love that site almost as much as their mama! Too bad they want search Ninjago instead of cute mudrooms.
- In the middle of winter, we probably have movie or video game nights about once a week to battle cabin fever.
- On long car rides (we live 9 hours from mi familia) it's pretty much nonstop techno land on wheels. Sometimes you just gotta survive!

Our biggest issue is when we're around other people. In the winter, we favor uninterrupted adult conversation over towing a hard line about technology. But we're currently fighting a battle because of it. There are certain people they see only for their iPad or the Cartoon Network on their TV (we have no channels at home). We've taken to giving a lecture in the car before we arrive at our destination, forbidding them ask about TV or phones or Kindles. I swear my mantras every weekend for a month have been, "We don't go to Grandma's house to watch Transformers or play Bejeweled. We go to see Grandma and Grandpa" and "It's too pretty outside to watch TV. Don't even ask!"

I'm sure this will be an evolving battle, but for right now I feel like we're winning the war on technology overload. Now if I could just get myself under control. Right now, it's nearing 3 a.m. and I'm still on my laptop!

1 comment:

Deborah Raney said...

I remember this struggle so well. And your closing line cracks me up. Dad and I were the biggest "addicts"––still are, actually. :}