Sunday, January 16, 2011

Get Your Tea; I'm On a Rant.

Last night we had a lovely evening with friends down the road. This was our first visit, and we looked forward to it because they have a son about Jude's age (I was already thinking, "sleepovers, bike rides to each other's houses, camp outs" and so on). When you live rurally, you think about things like finding friends that live nearby so your child won't always need a drive into town!

Safe in a leafy embrace.

Things did not get off to a good start. Jude found a little handheld gamey thing (no, I have no idea what it's called) while the other little boy was still outside. When he came in, he was very upset that Jude was using his game without his permission. Jude looked confused (because he did get permission from the boy's mother) and close to tears (because he didn't get why the boy was so mad). There's a reason my son is so enraptured with handheld devices. We don't have any in the house, not even a cell phone (please note that my kids are not completely sheltered; they do play parent-supervised educational games on the internet!) Things escalated to the point where I quietly suggested that the game be put away and another more interactive game (by this I mean kids playing with kids) be played.
Zucchini love.

I remember children at our wedding six years ago, finding themselves in this great outdoor celebration surrounded by cousins and other kids, choosing to sit on the front step of the cabin playing handhelds. Or at a family reunion a couple of years ago, saying jokingly to my cousin's son, "Why don't you put that thing away and come hang out with all your cousins?" He snapped at me (again, without looking at me), "I've been away all week and haven't played with it at all!" After grandma died and my cousins arrived, many of the kids were so engaged with their games that they didn't even talk to each other. I had been telling Jude that he'd meet some boys his age and they could play together, and was dismayed to realise that he'd be left out because he didn't have a DS. Do I think it's neat that while playing guitar and singing around the campfire, someone can find the lyrics to a song we're struggling with? Kind of. But I also kind of miss the days of humming and laughing at people's attempts to remember the words.

I'm on a rant. Bear with me...*takes deep breath*...

I'm a kindergarten teacher. At circle time, when we share stories about exciting things that have happened in our lives, I'm as likely to hear "I got a new DS" as "I went fishing with my Grandpa". While assessing one of my Junior Kindergartens on his letter recognition (we've learned 15 so far, reviewing and playing games with them daily) I saw that he didn't know any of his letters. That's okay (*takes another deep breath)...but then he saw capital B and that sparked him to go on a tangent (as they do) about Woo-eegee (Luigi!) and Mawio (Mario!)...this child just turned four. In my quick internet search for information on this topic, I learned that "preschoolers aged two to five play an average of 28 minutes/day. The amount of time spent playing video games is increasing, but not at the expense of television viewing which has remained stable at about 24 hours/week". (see the whole article here).
If a child has a DS at the age of 3 or 4, what the heck do you buy them for their 10th birthday? I imagine by then there'll be some newer "must-have" on his list...

Fresh air and a good book!

I grew up in the 70s and 80s. I remember which friends had microwaves and VCRs (we used to rent a VCR on a rare weekend, and this is why I have certain 80s movies completely memorised: we'd rent two for the weekend and watch them over and over again!). I remember seeing my first CD player in about 1989; it had been purchased in the States, and was likely the first of its kind in the Ottawa Valley.

We just weren't a family that was into gadgets, whether by principle or by budget, I'm not sure. We watched TV, but were more likely to go for walks in the winter forest, Sunday drives with a picnic in the car and a lake-destination in mind, or to just play outside. I never felt deprived or left out. I still think my microwave is pretty darn neat.

Watermelon snack, sun on shoulders.

I'm not afraid of gadgets. I KNOW they're cool. I know there are amazing Apps that are educational and fun. What scares me is how addictive they are. I avoid getting an iPhone because I know I'd be on it all the time. I also worry about what is happening to our brains. I heard of a recent study on CBC radio that stated that our brains are actually changing because of the use of GPS systems. They affect memory and spatial orientation. What? You mean reading maps is GOOD for our spatial sense? Frankly, the idea of our brains evolving in response to gadgets that are younger than me gives me the skeevies.

So the question begs to be asked. If a child learns about social cues, conversation skills, reading body language, and eye contact by interacting with the adults and children around them, what is happening when the children sit around playing on computers and handheld devices all day? There were six children at our gathering last night; two were fighting over a game, one had a DS, and two were watching videos on youtube. That left Margot to climb on laps and make us laugh with her antics. It was quiet; it gave the adults time to sit and chat. But the lack of noise and activity kind of saddened me.

Nanny and Papa's card game finale.

In our family, my nieces don't have games either. So when we all get together, one adult is usually sitting with the kids, colouring or crafting, or the kids are off running wild together, or once they get old enough, they're sitting with the adults and learning to play cards. It takes energy to do this. If we need to get something done, they might watch a movie, but more often than not, they're busy playing.

When I non-judgmentally express my misgivings to other parents, I'm often bemused by their responses. It's as if they agree with me, but are kind of confused about how their kids ended up with a game. They always agree that playing outside or with other kids is better for their child, but feel that their kids are too attached to ever get rid of the thing. Huh? Who's the parent here?

Let's be honest. A handheld game, like the television, is a babysitter. My kids watch a movie each day, for "afternoon quiet time" (which is when I make dinner or do housework). Gadgets can keep kids quiet in the car. It occupies them so parents can do their own thing. God knows I could use a little less whining when we take the kids out for a long drive. But I know that if we get a DVD player in the car, "I Spy", pretending we're in a submarine, singing songs, or looking for farm animals will no longer entertain them. My parents drove across Canada (from Ontario to BC and back) with four kids (aged 6-16) in a CAR in the early 80s. We did scavenger hunts, counted license plates from different provinces and states, had contests to see who could make their Lifesaver last the longest, and weren't bored for a moment. It took energy and effort on my parents' part. And it's one of my best childhood memories. What memories would I have of the Canadian landscape if I'd been staring at a screen the whole way?

The wonder of the human body in movement.

The argument that handheld games improve hand-eye coordination makes me pffft! Playing sports improves hand-eye coordination. Playing an instrument, or learning to knit or draw, or carving with a jackknife improves hand-eye coordination. Don't get me started on "Guitar Hero" or "Rock Band".

It's hard to put my finger on why I find this love of gadgets unsettling. While I worry about the social abilities of children who play with these things, ironically, I worry that my kids will be socially left-out because they don't play with them. I worry that I'm just a paranoid dinosaur, afraid of what I don't understand. But I know that when I go to a live show and see that everyone has what my husband calls "blue face" because they're all watching the show through their cameras/phones, texting to their friends that they're AT a show, or posting videos of the show to youtube, I'm saddened. People are increasingly disengaged from life, experiencing everything through a screen. After I watched my son's first Christmas concert through a screen as I recorded it for posterity (and basically missed the experience of watching it real), I vowed to never film another one. I'd rather be in that moment, seeing it as a whole.

Summer dance!

I worry when I read quotes like this: Electronic games are now an everyday part of childhood and adolescence. The debate has moved from whether children should play video games to how to maximize potential benefits and to identify and minimize potential harms, as if we as parents have no control over them. It's the same feeling I get when I hear about the corporatisation (did I make up a word?) of our food sources, overuse of pesticides, and genetic modification in our food, as if we have no choice but to feed our kids fast food.

Playdough alien heads on action figure bodies!

I feel as if I'm a traveler from the past, trying to fit into a future I don't understand. I'm teaching my kids to knit and draw and grow a garden and take care of animals and climb trees. I'm teaching them to swim and write thank you notes and look people in the eye when they speak to them, to give a firm handshake and a strong hug. Am I somehow depriving them of an essential element of modern life? Will they suffer if they can't talk to their friends about the game they just got? Will they not be invited to sleepovers where the activity of choice is sitting around engaged with a DS? I worry. But I know it's a choice I'll have to live with.

Because we do have a choice. It's hard to resist the pull of shiny new things that somehow jar our sensibilities when there's madness all around, and people act like it's normal to answer their cell phone three times during a meal with friends. It's hard to deny our children things that "all the other kids have". As an aside, we don't deny our children access to technology. They get to take pictures with the digital camera. We record music on the computer. I blog and write. We find crafts, song lyrics, games, humour, and inspiration on the internet. We use technology as a means to achieving creative and artistic goals. I know the day will come when a Wii will rock my kids' world on Christmas morning, and when they'll be able to spend money on whatever gadget they want. I can see how an iPad with educational apps will be an exciting addition to our collection of games and activities. But not yet. I still have a choice, and for now, I choose real life over virtual worlds.

Sticky face sees fireworks for the first time.

I'll leave you with this quote: "Video games are natural teachers. Children find them highly motivating: by virtue of their interactive nature, children are actively engaged with them: they provide repeated practice: and they include rewards for skillful play."

I'd like to edit it as follows:

"People are natural teachers. Children find them highly motivating; by virtue of their interactive nature, children are actively engaged with them; they provide repeated practice and they include rewards for skillful play."

30 comments:

  1. There's always something that "all the other kids have." Today it's cell phones and hand-held game toys. When I was a kid it was boom boxes and walkmans. But the reality was there were a lot of other kids that didn't have those things either. It's just harder to see them.

    I think it's important to be aware of the current popular things because it helps to have a social sense of belonging and build the begining of relationships. But it's more important to cultivate the creative play, both on their own and with others. Creative play teaches creative problem solving and a strong sense of self. Which are necessary as an adult. You don't get those things when you have the TV or game boy babysitter.

    I can tell you that a lot of those kids that had "everything" when I was a kid didn't have strong relationships with their families or friends. Which caused problems later.

    I think it's important to hold fast on your ideals. Your kids will be greatful later. :-)

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  2. If anyone is offended by what you wrote, I can only imagine it be because of guilt. I would welcome people to explain the draw of these hand held devices and why children have free access to them. I have a BIG problem with even cell phone/texting interrupting a conversation with someone. You're in the middle of a sentence and suddenly there's a buzzing sound and the person digs around in their bag or goes into their pocket and reads the text in front of you and THEN answers it. Social skills will always get you further than computer skills. Stick to your guns, mama. There will be loads of time for them to get the latest gadget and learn it. In the meantime, camp fires, fireflies, knitting, play dough and music will have to suffice.

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  3. Oh, so glad you told me to get my tea!! I am totally with you on everything you said (and I too, do not own a cell phone). I was quite upset last year when a well-meaning Aunt gave my son, aged 4, a DS without asking us first(we had made the decision to wait until our kids were much older). I would have been the mean old Mom to take it away, and she is just not someone who would get it if I explained that I really didn't want him to have it. So I resigned myself to the fact that I could at least control what games he played (mostly educational, and non-violent) and how much he played. So far, so good. We also made the decision when we moved North, to get a Wii (we have 8 months of winter and it was as much for our sanity as for the kids) Again, we limit time on it, play active or skill building games, and really try to play them together as a family. Again, so far, so good. Do they play more than I would truly like, yes. But I also know that they get a good amount of non-tech time too. I had a proud moment over Christmas when we visited with a group of friends for an evening and ours were the only children present. A friend's husband commented on how nice it was to see that our kids had packed card games, coloring books, and small figurines to play with instead of handheld games. I have a very strict "no DS in public" rule, and so far the kids have never complained. They enjoy playing with each other, and chatting with adults...something I have seen lacking more and more in my nieces and nephews, as well as a few grown aunts and uncles, as everyone seems glued to one screen or another.

    Yep, I've got your back on this one ;)

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  4. I think you are right on track with this..Although my kids have all the gadgets and actually attend school through a computer. I have to balance "screen time" with kicking them out of the house between classes and when school is over. My experience has taught me that children have an innate sense of what is good for them and what isn't. A kid that doesn't eat fast food and then does usually says "Yuck!" After the novelty of the device wears off, outdoor, creative play reigns. As usual, it is all about balance. Oh, and personality..LOL....some kids are tech-y in nature, others not so much. Using your instinct as your guide as well as your values like you are is the best path. You are doing just fine so say goodbye to that guilt :)

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  5. I agree with much of what you've said.

    However, I do think it depends on the child (or adult, as the case may be). My daughter has a Leapster, which is an "educational" handheld gaming system. The games are truly educational and require doing some kind of activity, with the reward of playing a game if enough tokens, or whatever, are built up. The only time she uses it is when she is in the car, as a way to distract her from being carsick. It's not a rule that she can't use it other times, but it's what she has chosen. She also has an iPod, which is a hand-me-down from my husband that he wasn't really using. Again, she only uses it in the car. She watches tv shows and watches movies. She has games for an old computer that we have, but rarely plays them.

    At this point, I am happy with the balance that she has with electronic items and her regular toys, which usually involves pretend play. The balance has been achieved with some rules from mom: No tv during the week, and some restrictions during the weekend, and no tv while friends are over. But, much of her balance has come from her. Even when she's watching tv on the weekend, she is often playing while the tv is on and isn't totally absorbed in it. She plays outside when she can and loves being active.

    I also think it's important for me to take ownership in my tv/computer/electronic use and not be a hypocrite about it. I love watching tv, though I generally watch from my computer as I spin or knit. I listen to my iPod while driving to work, or while spinning or knitting. I am on the computer throughout the day. I have a rarely used cell phone.

    While I'm happy with the balance at this point, I am keeping a careful watch on it. I think that it's something that can tip out of balance fairly easily.

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  6. You are a wonderful mother and you are teaching your children about family among many other things. I admit, my children have the DS and Wii but they don't live to play them. They went two months (by their own choice) of not playing the Wii. Why? They wanted to be outside playing, exploring and enjoying summer. Even now, they may play a game with my husband (instead of board games) but it's a family activity. I think the electronics have replaced creativity. I played with dolls way beyond what my daughter has. I was brought up like you. I just came in from the barn. Do you know where my daughter was all morning? Outside playing in the snow with the dogs (by her own choice). Maybe I've found the right mix of parenting, maybe not. I agree that you should question our children's reliance on electronics especially as an educator and you aren't wrong to do so.

    Now, lunch to make then we are all going back outside as a family to enjoy the wonderful snow we got last night.

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  7. I think the pictures of your post say it all - they show the absolute joy and innocence of play that makes a "game-free/limited" lifestyle the best kind.

    I've got another new word for you - zombification. This is what I feel those devices do to kids, from first-hand experience I have seen my little man zone out in front of a computer game here, or on a handheld game at his grandma's. He is addicted and oblivious, and I seriously believe it affects his behavior and mind for the worse. For that reason we have chosen to remove them from our home, and limit them in other environments.

    Go with your gut, and trust your instincts. If these things give you the wiggins, you're right to avoid them. I say kudos for you for encouraging your kids to have a bright, happy childhood.

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  8. P.S Thanks to the those who do allow these devices but have strict guidelines and follow through. I like that balance........

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  9. This issue is one that weighs on me each day. My boys are only two and four, and my husband and I are deeply divided on video games. He likes them, and would allow the boys to play, while I despise video games thanks to memories of watching my younger brother play for up to ten hours at a time when we were younger! How dull! So no video games for now, but school starts this fall and I wonder if greater exposure through other children will have my kids begging for the latest device.

    That said, I look at my own rather indulgent tech usage and feel like a hypocrite. Are browsing blogs and checking out Ravelry patterns any better than a video game?

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  10. My daughter is too young to be worrying about these things, but I suspect she might not be very interested in the future anyhow. I've noticed some babies who become "zombies" when a TV is on in the room and can't take their eyes off of it. Aylen doesn't have the time of day for TV! She is too busy exploring her world. She will also be a child who will not be given hand-held games or Ipods for Christmas, as neither my husband nor myself have these kinds of things. I just have no interest in technology. So I think it is so dependent on the interests of both the parent and child. If a parent was raised to watch a lot of TV and play a lot of video games, most likely his/her children will do the same. I know many 30-somethings who spend most of the day on their devices. Their children will certainly follow suit by example. I don't know if this is bad or good, but I know that our family will certainly be more engaged in real-life experiences, just as I was [on our drives down to Florida as kids we also played many games, and our favourite was finding the license plates of all 50 states - one year we got them all, and were so excited when we spotted Alaska!!]

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  11. Like anything that can become part of an addictive personality, MODERATION is what is important....and it is the RESPONSIBILITY of the PARENT to determine what is permissible for each of THEIR children. I was anti Gameboy with my oldest son until he was 10 years old, while the younger son got Gameboy privileges at a much younger age....because my husband and I knew how much to allow without overdoing it. We were not always POPULAR....but our job is to be the PARENT. :)

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  12. I think you are spot on and applaud your bravery! I think dependence on electronics may start even earlier than hand held game devices. My grandson (aged 19 months) is obviously too young for such toys but he has lots of battery powered, noisy toys. His other grandmother buys him toys that squawk, rumble, sing, etc. While I tend to give him blocks, wooden trains, you get the idea. I feel that very young children are being deprived of chances to pretend and imagine when all their toys make the appropriate sounds. I think electronics have their place but control is important. Parents need to be parents.

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  13. I fall whole-heartedly on your side of this argument. We are intentionally choosing to live a "technology" free childhood, and are so happy with that choice. When we have received toys as gifts with lights/buttons/noises/batteries/etc... I have returned them to the store or donated them to the thrift, and my sons have never even noticed they were missing!! There have been times we have visited cousins or friends that have had these DS toys, or Leapsters, and you are right - the children are unable to look up from the screen to even say hello. It is dismaying!

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  14. If we receive a gift that uses batteries, but are still fun and usable without them (eg. A shape sorter) I just remove the batteries and we're all happy, including the gift giver.
    Tv is just not a big deal at our place. Kids don't even know how to turn it on...
    We have a weekly plan for activities after dinner that works great for us- we just follow the 'plan' (kids are 3 & 7)
    mon- family wii,
    tues-shower,
    wed-computer, with 3yo watching 7yo play,
    thurs-shower,
    fri-tv (eg. Franklin)
    sat/sun-maybe a tv show in am.
    Less than 30 minutes for each night then pjs and bed!

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  15. I think everyone has to walk their own path as a parent. I had a friend tell me one time that if she feels guilty at all about something as a parent then that is her signal to change course!

    I grew up with unlimited tv time and video game time but we spent tons of time outdoors as well. One of my biggest aggravations as a parents is that kids do not play outside anymore. It snowed last week and we were the only people playing outside. There are enough kids in my neighborhood to fill a full sized school bus and it sounded like we lived in the middle of nowhere.

    I always tell my son that a well rounded person does lots of things in a day. I include tv and video games in that (he is limited to a certain time for both) I like him to do all sorts of things throughout the day. This just works for us and we alter things as needed.

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  16. I have wine instead of tea.... but it's 8 pm and my little ones are in bed... that's okay right (laughing)
    I have a 14 year old son who does get an hour of computer time each day.... often extra when he is skyping with friends. He and a buddy play cards over skype. How wild is that? We have no video games. I have still not given in and I am damn proud of it!! I know what happens when we watch one too many movies (rare since we have no cable and only recently acquired a free tv) but the kids totally get all into replaying the movie and the quality of conversation turns to poo! Just tonight we sat around the dinner table eating leftover soup sipping wine and my husband spent an hour (an hour!!) telling the kids crazy stories from his youth which had them all in a fit of giggles.
    I am not trading that for regular zombie time each day. And while it is hard, I am so glad I have pushed against the mainstream and kept our house a little less techy than most.

    xoxo :)
    ~s

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  17. A few parents mentioned how their children make the choice to put away electronic games or restrict their use for example to car rides, etc. I want to make an argument that there may be an interaction between each child's personality and how addictive these devices can become. I have watched my nieces grow up with TV on in the house at all times, and playing Wii and computer games and they seem to strike a balance on their own. However, my son seems to get completely absorbed (and has since he was a toddler) with anything electronic even TV to the extent that he can't even hold a conversation. We also don't think it is "healthy" to be too attached to electronics and that it takes away from other activities. So we have strict rules and time quota, avoid purchasing things that are "portable", and getting out in sun, rain and snow. He is almost 7 and up untile a month ago was only allowed TV and pbskids internet games but we finally bought him a lego computer game. He loves it but he knows his play time is limited. I doubt he will ever self-regulate his use the way his cousins have but it's ok. It's my job as his parent to help him not get addicted.

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  18. What a fabulous discussion this has been! I have been checking in every day and reading the comments. Haven't left one yet as homesteadgirl and I had a long talk on the phone so it seemed redundant. My feelings, though, to lean towards the everything in moderation and parental control. Our girls do not have DSs, or a Wii, or any video games and have supervised use of the internet. This is partly from our own beliefs (outdoors, crafts, family activites, PLAYING TOGETHER come first) and partly for financial reasons. It doesn't make you a bad parent for having these devices, nor does it make you a better parent for not having them, what matters is that we teach our children about balance, priorities, manners, etc.

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  19. I'm going to agree with all the comments leaning toward moderation. As the saying goes "Moderation is the spice of life"(or maybe my Mom just made that up as she use to say it to me ALL the time.)
    This year, the dreaded question came up for Christmas; "Can I have a DS?". She's 4. We opted for a wooden train set that we can all play together.

    But, over the holidays, we adults played played the "Kinect" for xbox(imagine 10 30-something adults having dance-offs after all the kids were safe in bed) and we go to thinking maybe, just maybe, the family can get a system to play on games nights in the next few years. Dancing together is something we do in the kitchen regularly so this could be fun too, in moderation.

    One of the hard things to teach your children is moderation. We are 2 parents that work full time, I commute too far and I create schedules for a living. Sometimes, I just want the entertainment provided, something I could do WITH my kids that does not make a mess I need to clean up. Don't get me wrong. In the summer, you'll find us camping, at the local splash pad, the Zoo or making mudpies in the backyard. I hope that by doing a variety of things, our kids will see how much fun everything can be if we do it together and that WHAT we are doing doesn't really matter. We'll see how that works out.

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  20. I also agree with what everyone has said about moderation. It is hard to know what to provide for your children in a world where so much has changed since we were kids. I am 30 something and remember in Grade 5 the 'first computer' in our school was in our classroom!

    My partner's Uncle bought all their grandkids DS's for Christmas 2 years ago. Now when we go and visit that is ALL they are doing. My kids are 4 and 3 and they come crying to me why their cousins aren't playing with them. I realize that it is nice for the adults to actually have 'quiet' and time to 'talk' but I also think it is not good when you have to tell your child to get away from the screen and 'play' with their cousins, and then they are upset.

    I am trying to maintain moderation for my children as well and will probably be struggling with it for the rest of their childhood!

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  21. Thank you for such a good post and for having the gusto to just say it!
    Your post gave me the courage to just let all my thoughts come out today on my own blog - bring on the comments! Thank you! - Erin

    http://onetwotwentyseven.blogspot.com/2011/01/snowstorm-snow-day-shovel-repeat.html

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  22. Yes, I agree! Here's our story.

    My husband and I bought a "gaming system" when they first came out about 22 years ago. We had no kids at the time but were expecting. The two of us played with it night and day and far into the night, even on days when we both had to go to work the next day. We realized together that 1) they're addicting; and 2) they're a waste of time. We made the decision to throw it away and to never get one for our children.

    They had access to technology, but as a RESOURCE for learning about themselves and the world, not as something to fill their hours with entertainment. We filled our hours doing lots of the things you talk about in your excellent blog entry, including lots and lots of reading together.

    22 years later, our children are both very successful in very fine colleges, are very creative, read a lot and enjoy many pasttimes. They have many talents and interests and are always inquisitive about knowing more about a variety of topics. They have great social skills with other kids and with adults. They volunteer in the community. They have jobs. They know how to handle any situation in which they find themselves.

    We have no regrets at all about how we chose to educate our children in the hours that they weren't in school. I believe that VIDEO GAMES V. NO VIDEO GAMES is something that parents should think about carefully and choose the path that best fits them, knowing that there will be consequences down the line for both paths.

    Tamarie

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  23. Oh, how I wish I was your neighbour down the road -- it would be so lovely to have a kindred spirit on this issue! I, too, am deeply concerned about the use and over-use of handheld devices and video games. We don't have a Wii, DS, DVD in the car -- heck, we don't even have TV, though the kids are allowed to watch a movie on the weekends. I've seen kids plugged into their devices -- on school buses, at recess, on playdates and it saddens me. There's no social interaction with other children, with nature -- it's passive entertainment. My kids have very little screen time and they never cease to amaze me with their creativity and imagination. Do I worry that I'm out of sync with the rest of the world? Yes, but only because I think we're going in the wrong direction with all these gadgets and I'm concerned about the tech-obsessed world that my children are going to inherit. Thanks very much for your post. I'm with you 100%.

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  24. wow this is a powerful piece. I'm going to share it on my blog, but I'd love to get this out to more people too. I feel the same ways, why the rush for kids to grow up? I'll be sharing this soon on my blog, along with my the price of trendy piece and others as I fins them. There needs to be a revolution. :)

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  25. Hmmm. This is a tricky one for me. My husband works from home, developing websites for Visa. He enjoyed simple programming as a child, but mixed it up with loads of social time and sports. He is a real techie, and needs to test apps he is writing on various machines. So our house is filling up with lots of devices - macs, iphone, ipad, PC. Some are by necessity some bought for our personal home use. My 2 year old fella is quite nifty with the ipad already. But we ourselves are rather enamoured by it since it is a novelty for now, and the ability to check in on emails in amongst all the other things we do in a day is realy neat- no more having to set up a PC laboriously or only do it at a certain time. It's quick and easy to have a quick peek on things.
    It's very difficult for me to say "Too much computer time is bad for you" when Daddy is sat in the next room earning us a living out of it. A living that gives us flexibility, good money, and the freedom to have loads of weekends away with friends, days out, educational materials, and money to help others in greater need than us.

    My husband is really a hippy at heart who has accidentally made some good money from his job and who actually loves the creative process, and is mainly working for that reason.

    So how do we balance the computing thing out with other activities? Well, we just do! We garden, we cook, we go walking, we play at parks, meet up with friends, we draw, paint, do all sorts of other stuff too. I absolutely do not let my guys play anything violent on their computer, and being home schooled, they are actually pretty innocent concerning video nasties, they just don't know about them really. The only time they came into contact with that was with some kids in our village, which was really dissappointing, as I now don't want them playing at their houses...so yes, computers in THAT case, have caused a social division. But hey, here I am spending time on my computer instead of chatting to hubby at the end of a long day, so off I go!

    But yeah, basically, I think balance is the key, and content is also key. It's the tone of games and how appropriate they are that causes me more of a headache than the use of these things full-stop. I think they can be educational, as long as they're not being constantly used INSTEAD of or as a REPLACEMENT for real life.

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    1. I'm right there with you. As with most things, I think it's an issue of balance and moderation. I wrote a post describing my own struggle with the balance here: http://twyste.com/2011/12/30/Tech-or-trek/ I think it will be an ongoing juggling process...which is true in many areas of parenting and living in general!

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  26. thankyou for posting this. I'm always trying to find a nice medium. I pick and choose according to our present situation. I use a computer, obviously.I'm on it right now (:.
    But for our girls it's part of homeschooling.
    Family Ipod yes. because music is a huge part of our lives.

    The one thing I cannot stand, is video games. I refuse to buy any of the game systems.
    When I see a child spending, literally, hours staring at a screen. I think "I do not want this for my child".

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  27. AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN.
    Back in the 90's (haha) I did feel left out of the loop because we *didn't* get started with those early gaming systems like other kids did. But now as an adult it totally doesn't matter, it's just one conversation out of one-thousand-billion that I have nothing to contribute to.

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  28. Hi!
    I realize that I'm a little late on joining this conversation, but that's ok.
    I *loved, loved, loved* this post!!
    My kids are waking and I'd love to write a creative response, but I really don't like having a 'blue face' when I communicate with them.
    Thanks for writing this wonderful post!

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  29. Thank you again for this read. I have recently asked around about gadgets as I was considering buying one but just couldn't get my head around it. I asked people's opinions and got the whole gamut. It seems the only thing that matter to me is EXACTLY what you've written here. So that's kind of my answer isn't it?

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