computers and kids

My kids had been spending too much time on the computer lately. I knew it and was already trying to get computer time scaled back when thigs conspired to help me out: one of the laptops we have at home died (or at least lost the ability to get online wirelessly) and one of the children lost schoolnight computer privileges until grades come up a bit.

Voila! We suddenly have far less computering going on at home than we did a few weeks ago. My middle schooler had become almost unhealthily obsessed with the whole IM/e-mail thing. It was all she was wanting to do every night.

And the impact of the lessened computer time was immediate. More reading. More talking. Unprompted cleaning of rooms. More playing with other toys. Less isolating of selves in bedrooms.

I am very sensitive to my kids having too much electronics play and always have been. We do not have cable TV. We have very few computer games (and my kids have never been hugely into them anyway). I try to mostly stay off the computer at night and on weekends when the children are around unless I have absolutely unavoidable work I have to do. We do enjoy watching rented movies, but we still just don't spend that much time hooked up to electronics while at home.

I would much rather see my kids go play in the kudzu or creek behind our house, play guitar, hacksack, throw a ball for the dogs, or read a book or talk with their siblings, cousins or parents than spend all their time glued to a screen.

And now that i am two chapters into THIS BOOK, I am even more convinced that they should be spending more time outdoors. We are lucky in that, even though we live near downtown, we live on a huge, overgrown lot that backs up to a creek and a big public park. We have turtles and herons and snakes. And because my daughter rides horses, J and E in particular spend a lot of time playing on a farm over the course of a month...

So I am really glad computer time is down around Casa Granju-Hickman and I intend to improve on this state of affairs even more.


Anonymous said...

oh get over it. electronics are here to stay. my daughter is an honor student, talented in music and art and very active in her youth group and she spends a lot of time online IMing both with her real life friends and on neopets (time that as a teen I would have spent on the phone). she also would list video and computer games as hobbies. and we have cable. lot of cartoon network in our home. my other kid is just as bright, loves soccer and even though he loves his electronics, if the weather is nice he would rather be out catching insects with his buddy next door.
neither is overweight. my daughter is remarkably savvy and wise about how to handle herself. and none of this is because of my isolating and controlling and thinkng that I am a better parent because I shield them from this stuff.
but I guess if you are a card carrying member of the intelligentsia whiling away an evening playing halo is probably not as swift as sitting around pontificating or reading the classics is it now?

Anonymous said...

So Katie - how many of the people who comment on your blog actually read your posts, do you think?

dewi said...

If your kids have an addictive personality computers are deadly. Plus if they are a 16-year-old boy, they might be receiving perverted email from a Republican congressman, ironic how the perverted emails has conveniently diverted all our attention from the real issue of this failed war and the criminals in the white house. What happened to the front-page Woodward's revelations on this current administration?
I'm getting off topic...

I agree with the author of the article that our kids do have a nature deficit. I think part of not letting our kids be free outdoors in nature is that we are a generation of parents that know what teens do with too much free time in the woods or parks. We have all smoked way too much pot and been drunk and stoned in the woods and parks. So we tend to want to oversee everything they do and direct their free time.

Here's a quote from the book "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee" I think it sums up how most parent their kids and why we don't let them roam in nature alone. I am as guilty as the next parent of acting this way.

"We treat our children's lives like we're cruise ship directors who must get them to their destination "adulthood" smoothly, without their feeling even the slightest bump or wave" and letting them roam freely to play in the woods or the parks is scary.

Anonymous said...

I think you are assuming Dewi that all parents have done that. most havent (or maybe in your circles they have. probably) most kids, if you give them a chance, are good kids. I hate it when people make assumptions about teenagers simply because they are teenagers. I personally think that a lot of kids live right down to those expectations. as for the republican congressmen..oh give me a break. is everything a conspiracy theory to those on the left???
and I dont think that its a matter of "technology" vs "nature". my son watches probably way way too much TV and his gameboy is like his prized possession but he plays soccer, is very active at school and in the summer loves to go fishing and camping and catching all sorts of gross little boy stuff.
its only the intelligentsia that get worked up about this. most of the little boys I know are just as into goofing off outside as they are into their video games or watching intellectually stimulating fare like "Ed Edd and Eddy" (something I am quite sure the Granju kids would turn their noses up at...either that or they would gorge on it if they had half a chance at another kids house)
I think it just tweaks a lot of the elite to have every minute not "count" towards something productive. sometimes, Dewi, you just need to chill and do something mindless like play video games.

Laura Linger said...

Our satellite dish was knocked down during a recent monsoon. The result? No television for one week, until the technician could come out to the house and reattach it to our roof.

It was much we got done during that week.

The television is back now, but I am holding on to that marvelous week and trying to limit my viewing to shows that I absolutely MUST watch (you know, like The First 48).

britney said...

the elite? the intelligentsia? conspiracy theories? too funny.

dewi said...

The elite? The intelligentsia? Conspiracy theories? Too funny is correct if this anonymous poster was not completely serious.