Wednesday, June 13, 2012

on limiting electronic media

I do not have any brilliant insights, but I think, the less, the better. I am not against internet, I am not against Facebook and I am not against TV. I am for moderation for all, kids and adults. 

I am also for asking: what is the kid missing out on by being plugged into a particular device?

I have been told numerous times to get a DVD player for all our car trips. Or that people do not know how I can drive without a DVD player. Well, let's think about this for a minute. Twenty years ago, there were not portable DVD players. So, somehow, kids and adults survived long car rides. What would my kids miss out on by being plugged in? Crossing state lines. Learning to read by decoding traffic signs. Deer on the side of the road. Rainbows: I am usually not focusing on those while driving. Making up their own game of car vs. trucks and counting how many trucks we passed. Counting miles to our exit. Limos.

the boys are taking apart the piano 
This morning the boys were all revved up about library reading program. Actually, I think they were revved up by all the new books, and that they could document their reading. I had to pull them away for breakfast and davening, after which they proceeded to read some more. There were pre-reading days, when after davening they asked to watch TV. Today 8 yo opened a crafts book book and decided to make a fan out of magnolia leaves. While outside, he watered the plants. Then he found an old electric piano that got left out in the rain and was not working. So he asked for a screwdriver and started taking it apart. 6 yo joined him. As they opened it up, 6 yo excitedly started tracing all the wires. He found the chip that controlled everything. A few minutes later, some friends came over to play. Then four boys spent two hours taking apart that piano and building ninja fighting ground out of its pieces.

these ripe tomatoes were spotted by  8 yo on one of his outdoor strolls
Would I want my kids to miss on this because they were too busy playing computer games? Part of the reason my kids do not get bored has to do with the fact that they come up with their own entertainment instead of passively absorbing whatever is being shown to them.  

We do not have TV, but a set with VCR. They kids are allowed to watch tapes and DVDs, but once the show is over, it's over. The kids also watch certain things on Netflix, mostly nature documentaries. They saw just about all Nigel Marven series and a ton of shows about dinosaurs. Yes, they also watched all of Dinosaur Train. Lately they watched a bunch of Nova documentaries. The last Netflix movie was World's Funniest Animals. A lot of shows get nixed (by them) because they are too scary, and I do not encourage kids to watch anything that is outside their comfort zone. They boys also occasionally take out a DVD from the library, right now we have a Smithsonian video on food, human accomplishments and wacky race cars. 
As one can see, my kids get their share of electronic entertainment, but I do set limits on what is watched and for how long. We used to battle about watching TV/playing games, but I find it not to be an issue any more. I find that they do not ask as much, and I do not rely on plugging  them in regularly, so they satisfy their watching (and passive absorbing ) need and then they are ready to face the world.

Except for Rosetta Stone, we do not use computer for educational games. They do use Word occasionally to make cards. I got Mavis Beacon for typing but I found that they were not motivated to learn the actual typing, so I cannot recommend that. I am sure that our relationship with computer will change as the boys will be getting older and more and more of their needs will require computer access. As of right now, the outdoors and the books have more lure, and I am quite content with that.

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