09 10

12 August 2013

Balancing Screen Time

Screens are a challenge. Trying to extract the most good from them, while avoiding the pitfalls is a constant. I have seen a few kids, primarily young men, reach adulthood and their life comes screeching to a halt because they cannot self-regulate their screen time and disappear into video games, barely coming up for air. The world is not, I don't think, going to become less video-intense anytime terribly soon, so I need to teach my children to control the screen, rather than be controlled by it.

All this pondering came about when I read an article called, "Video Games: A Blessing or a Curse?" with a very different take on screens from what our family's approach has been thus far. 

We’ve all heard the declarations on both sides of the coin, especially in the unschooling world. One side of the pendulum swing states, “Video games are fabulous; parents shouldn’t put any limits on access to them." The other side of the pendulum swing states, “Too much video game playing is at the crux of many childhood issues, such as obesity, social isolation, and aggression.”

My husband and I fall on the "less is more" side of the pendulum when it comes to most television. And while we do enjoy a few PC games, we have no plans to purchase any of the various console systems. I've considered, seriously, Minecraft, but have not yet taken the plunge. The bulk of the apps on my phone are educational or at least edu-tainment. And even those we limit. There's just so many things to do, to learn, to experience and accomplish, and screens are a huge time-suck that often leave very little space for anything else. The article's author, on the other hand, is much more comfortable with kids spending time in front of screens. (Her youngest, it sounds like, is just older than my oldest. That may be a factor.) Reading about not only her decisions, but the reasoning behind them, has given me some new stuff to mull over, and put words to a few things that have been sort of stewing in the back of my mind. 
For one thing, it's hard to explain to Hero why I'm limiting his screen time, when I use screens, specifically my phone, quite a lot. The author has four sons, each of whom use screens differently, and constructively. And it's that word -constructively - that I've not been paying enough attention to, I think. Bloon Tower Defense and Facebook fall on the "junk screens" side of things, while Mango Japanese, The Federalist Papers online, and math facts games are much more "veggies screens." And that makes a difference. Since some of his school, especially Japanese, has a screen component to it, it's muddying the water and our rules aren't working very well.

So, what do you think? How do you deal with the question of how much is good and when does it become too much?

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin