Too Wired?

Oh no, I don't have gamer kids at all /eyeroll

My children can easily open a web browser and play games. They can turn on the Wii, the DS, and will ask me to find them the ‘blahblahfill-in-the-blank.com’ they heard about on tv.

They are 3 and 5- years old.

Mom and Dad both use their computers for work and play. So laptops are always open and it’s just a way of life for the adults, so it stands to reason it’s a way of life for the children in the house.

Is this the new standard for families or are we entirely too plugged in?

Don’t get me wrong, there is a very healthy amount of NON-wired play around here. Legos, dolls, imagination run rampant.

So why do I feel guilty when they do plug in?

Is that a throwback to some bygone era where this wasn’t commonplace? Leftover guilt akin to my mother telling me I was sitting too close to the television?

If they are monitored, if their time is monitored, if it’s all well and good…why am I even questioning their wired lives when everything comes with a .com?

Perhaps it’s just like everything else in motherhood: am I doing this right? That nagging, never ending feeling in the back of your brain that you can be better, try harder.

Or maybe we just need to go for a walk.

Comments

  1. If you do everything together with your children and set up a time table for them in how they use technology, I don’t see a problem. I think it is wonderful for them to use new tools of how to express themselves. Thanks for giving me a peak into your world!

  2. I think it’s good for kids to get to know the internet and gadgets. It will only help them in the long run. However, I think it’s very normal for a parent to worry. The internet is a big place and isn’t made with kids in mind.
    I’ve let our 5yr old play on my laptop on some game sites. He always ends up on some other site because he just clicks on pictures that look interesting. He doesn’t get the difference between ads and content and many game websites’ advertising border on not safe for kids.

  3. I relate, though my kids are teens and weren’t as plugged in as toddlers (they were however putting a clunky Lion King cassette into the VCR with amazing speed and perfection at age 2).

    Just a few moments ago I went to get my husband to come fix something on my laptop and he dared me not to return to the computer for “5 minutes.” I lasted 10 minutes with him.

    Computers have a different role to play in our lives – one that I didn’t anticipate, but I think with good guidance our kids will develop just fine being as wired as they are. You said you mix up your kids’ computer time with other activities and that’s the imortant thing for us to do as moms (and wives) IMHO.

  4. I don’t think the problem so much is techno time versus off-your-butt-away-from-screen time. I think that the real problem as I’ve seen it is kids who don’t know how to relate to other kids, or aren’t in the process of actively learning. It’s the same with kids who bury their heads in books or who take part in solo sports. I’m a loner; I know the draw. And for all the pros of getting to know someone online before making judgments or engaging in prejudices based on appearances, there is something to be said for being sitting at a table with another human or – eek! – group work or projects which in which we are made to figure out ways to negotiate with and accommodate other people.

    As we all know, the technology makes it easy to simply “turn off” people instead of making efforts to get along with them or find common grounds while being civil.

    So that’s my qualm with any sort of technology where it’s a face pressed to a screen or even a phone; we are blood and guts as much as we are intellect. I think that we need the face-to-face-to-face social contact more than we sometimes realize; and even if we think we don’t need it, practice makes perfect for those times that it’s inevitable.

    Last thought: I wish that there were rules of etiquette more regularly instilled in kids to go along with the technology. I think that a good start would be that when a person enters the room, kids are taught to at least look up and grunt. For starters. As soon as any piece of technology is conneccted to rudeness toward another person – online or off – that piece of technology gets a time out – sometimes a very long time out.

    So again, not the quantity or even quality that is the problem; it’s the way I see technology “training” people to remove themselves from learning how to deal civilly with other people – sometimes, ironically, being the catalyst or excuse for all out rudeness in relationships with only “online” people. As if there is such a thing.

  5. You know, I was feeling so guilty because Dawson has totally taken control of my Nintendo DS. He’s 4. He has a Leapster L-Max handheld game, too, which we bought him way before I got the DS. The child has decided he likes mine better. And he’s figured out how to play the DS. He’s better at it than I am.

    Maybe it’s not guilt. Maybe it’s shock and awe. Kind of like when our parents would ask us how to turn on the computer in the 90s because they didn’t know how to work them. (Okay, so only my parents did that….)

    I feel the guilt, too. I’m just choosing to ignore it, because like your children, he’s not plugged in all the time.

  6. Everything in moderation. That goes for us adults too.

    If I may ask, where did you get her dress? I love it.

  7. I struggle with this too. I actually hate video games for myself, and so I find myself getting all bristly when my son wants to play “Noggin’s game of the month” — and then I realize that him doing a super-spy adventure online for 20 minutes isn’t really any different than me surfing blogs for the same amount of time. But I do worry about the amount of time generally that it is possible to sit in front of a screen without even realizing how much time has passed. My husband is the most guilty of this, with his World of Warcraft. So I try to be very careful to allocate specific screen time amounts and turn off promptly. And I’m not averse to just sending them outside (when it’s warm). Mine are the exact same age as yours.

    As for the guilt? It’s a balancing act. I think most things about parenting can leave us feeling guilty if we’re not careful (do I ever spend enough one-on-one time with them? Do they play outside enough? Have I tried as hard to teach daughter to do puzzles or learn her letters as I did with her older brother? etc. etc.). The best we can do is the best we can do. Don’t let the guilt get you down.

  8. I feel that same guilt. My #1 kiddo is only 2.5 and uses my laptop to play starfall.com an hour a day. He knows all his letters & sounds and is learning words, but it’s not a book and I have guilt over that. He does read and play a ton, but with 30-60 min of starfall.com I feel like I can’t let him watch any tv or dvd without the guilts. When I get my new laptop, we’re considering keeping this one for him so he can play starfall and type letters & words in MSWord & use KidPix/Paint to draw without buggering up my stuff. Great idea, right? But he’s 2.5. A laptop? He uses the touchpad mouse as well as I do. Scary stuff, this technology.

  9. It is the same if not worse in my house. Here is an interesting thought. Maybe, the more we are disconnected and plugged in, the less likely we will be to go out and steal and shoot each other.

    Well, I don’t think it matters in America. We just shoot each other all the time for tons of different reasons.

  10. My 16 y-o daughter is a child of the web… started using computers at 2 1/2 or 3 – I would have to unplug when I was not there but she quickly learned which went where – sort of like those IQ blocks.

    Now she makes side money designing business myspace and facebook pages – given how quickly she turns them out she makes about $200 plus an hour… thank god she is looking at law – otherwise she would be complaining on her hourly potential!

  11. i worry about this too — i am reading “growing up digital” which i think/hope will give me some insight and perhaps even make me feel better. i’m hoping.

  12. Sathington Willoby says:

    In my personal opinion…you have nothing to fear. My gosh, look how much these gadgets make them think critically, just don’t let them do it 24hrs a day, and that doesn’t seem to be a problem with your ankle biters. Really, let them plug-in, our world has changed, it’s time for us all to accept it.

  13. I have a nearly 3 year old grand daughter, and would love to know of any good programmes which can be purchased on disc or otherwise, for her to help her learn on the computer. She’s been sending videoemails with us and loves using the computer, and I can only think that it’s a good thing, provided, as previously people have pointed out, that time is limited, and physical activity takes up a large part of her day.

  14. http://ow.ly/25A

    Connected to what I’m talking to. When we’re discussing young children – or children of any age to some extent – who are learning social interactions and the rules of living in a civil society, the draw and “opiate” of computer games could possibly act as a deterrent to getting beyond any normal “anxieties” that accompany learning new skills. With kids who might be genetically hardwired to be more anxious or depressed, then the addiction to the salve of computer games is going to get hard-wired in. Again, not a reason to keep kids away from technology, but basically any screen time is a social and physiological experiment in our 10,000 years of social evolutionary hard-wiring. It’s my opinion that if there is a gut reaction that this might not be a good thing for a particular child, or that even a little is too much, it behooves a parent to go with that reaction and to limit or at least more heavily monitor the child’s interaction with the medium. Not just sit them in front of the TV because it keeps them from beating their sister. etc.

  15. When we were over last week, our kids played for hours together in a perfect, unstructured, imaginative way. Whatever the “dangers” of video games, your kids don’t seem to have suffered from them.

    Your husband, OTOH… ;-)

  16. maybe your 3 year old and 5 year old can try: http://hacketyhack.net/reality/ ?

    “Hackety Hack was not written in seclusion for my imaginary friends. It was written with the help of fifty budding hackers who I personally mentored. Most had tried to program, but had failed to catch on. Some wanted to teach their kids.

    So, I tried to teach them to program exciting things as quick as can be. And they let me know if, indeed, each lesson was exciting. And if it was quick. It made a huge difference!”

  17. maybe your 3 year old and 5 year old can try Hackety Hack?

    “Hackety Hack was not written in seclusion for my imaginary friends. It was written with the help of fifty budding hackers who I personally mentored. Most had tried to program, but had failed to catch on. Some wanted to teach their kids. So, I tried to teach them to program exciting things as quick as can be. And they let me know if, indeed, each lesson was exciting. And if it was quick. It made a huge difference!”

  18. I worry about this too.

    My kids are 7 and 9 and plugged in…

    We turn the games off and have them do chores, play board games, imaginary play, read books.

    But they’d rather be plugged in…

    And I worry about this!

  19. As parents, we always question ourselves. We don’t want to screw our kids up, so we worry.

    I think that in this day and age, it’s essential for our kids to be “plugged in.” As long as there is plenty of other play, I think it’s perfectly fine.

    My son has his own laptop. My sister gave him her old one when she bought a new one shorty before Christmas. He can do research on his own without bugging me about it, and I don’t have to worry about him screwing up the computer that I work from home on!

    But we do play other than that. Lasertag, sledding, and in the summer, we bike together. He’s 11, so I’m just glad he still wants to hang out with mom!

  20. I love that your daughter has a Princess Peach doll. That cracks me up every time I come to this page. :)

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