Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The time children spend on computers ... how long is too long?

Our house is filled with electronic stuff. I love my laptop, my husband has one too. Both boys have computers ... But how long should we be spending on them? I heard on the radio today that children were spending far too long on screens and that those under 3 years old shouldn't even be watching tv, never mind spending hours on computers. So ... what to do??

My sons' laptops have security on and at the moment I am monitoring their usage. There is the facility to be able to lock the computer automatically after a certain amount of time. I think I may use that facility soon.

At the moment both boys are barred from using the X Box during the week, but they do go on their laptops. They also need their computers for homework.They live in a different age to that in which I grew up and using a computer is a relaxing pastime to them. And me actually. They have only had the capability of using their laptops in their rooms for 2 weeks and I am monitoring which sites they visit, how long they are on them. But they do seem to be becoming more and more obsessed. This is not a good thing. I have always been against having tv or computers in bedrooms - they are for sleeping in - and I feel that we have to be very careful as regards this sort of thing.

Its a balancing act between letting them use the devices, trusting them ... and doing what is healthy and sensible. I trust them both and at the end of the day ( sorry, hate that expression!) we have to have a trusting relationship.

They are very good compared to some of their peers and given the choice of being on Minecraft or going out to play football they would choose football every time. However, as the nights draw in and "Ugh its boring there's nothing to doooo!" the temptation of the computer grows ever greater.

So I think that I need to step in and apply a limit. I am going to allow a certain number of hours per week and then that's it, they can find other entertainment. I am also going to apply a lock so that after a certain time they are unable to use their devices. I really don't want them in their rooms at midnight watching God knows what...

Is this too 'Nanny State' ? Or am I just being sensible? What do you do with your children? Mine are 13 and 14. I would love to know your opinions!


Razmataz said...

I think you are being very sensible. I am so fed up with kids being either on a phone or laptop. It disconnects them from the family. I am guilty of far too much computer time. I am taking less exercise, cooking less, reading less.....it's a terrible habit that is making me fat(ter).

Mummy Plum said...

This is such an interesting topic. I am torn between feeling that time on the computer should be limited, and children should be doing the sorts of things I did when growing up vs thinking this is the reality of today's world and therefore rolling with it.
My son is only 3 and is already obsessed with the ipad. There are some educational apps for children to learn phonics, numbers etc which I think can be useful, but it's a balance. Recently I read an article about how important it is to let your child see you reading. I do read...but I realised usually this is on an electronic device. Does this count in setting an example to my son? I'm not sure it does. He needs to see me reading books surely if I am to encourage him as well. It's a difficult one.

I certainly think limiting computer time is not unreasonable. I can see me doing it myself in the future. I also think that rules should be applied when it comes to looking at phones etc when in social situations - visiting grandparents etc. People talk about being 'present in the moment' and particularly for our children's generation I feel that there is a danger they miss half the moments by staring at a phone texting/ tweeting whilst they are there!

Caz said...

You're doing the right thing, Sarah. Kids do need limits as far as new technology is concerned. Like Razamataz, I'm so fed up with my daughters having their faces constantly stuck in the laptop and phones on Twitter or Facebook or whatever else. Sometimes, I pull the plug on the electricity and you'd be surprised how long it takes for them to join the rest of the family. And I've just re-introduced the boardgame to my 13 year old - he loves it!!

Caz said...

**boardgames! We do have more than one!!

Tammy Chrzan said...

I saw you posted this last Tuesday and really wanted to read what you had to say, so I saved the link.... So my first quiet moment and here I am. I've raised video game obsessed teenagers, if they weren't gaming on their laptops they were on their xbox. They are now 19 & 21 and both hold down very good full time jobs, one being the United States Air Force. So there is nothing wrong right? Well not so fast.... It was a HUGE fight to always get the boys to do their homework, they were never involved in sports, they would sneak on their games and stay up all hours of the night and worst of all they didn't want to ever spend time with their families!! The only family they wanted to "hang" with are other members of the family that gamed. It was just sad, once the addiction kicks in... It's nearly unstoppable. I'm still raising 3 kids, games are the last thing I allow, they are allowed game systems but very limited. And in doing this I had to change my own behaviors, I had to put down my electronic toys. I stop what I'm doing and look directly at my children these days, I don't just speak while looking at a screen.... Like I used to. My children have many many crafts, learning activities, hunting, dancing and extra curricular activities to do now. I actually speak to my kids one on one and know them. My 2 oldest didn't have that from me, sometimes we learn things too late. Basically, I believe all electronics should be limited for all family members!! You have the right outlook, and I know you'll do what's right for your family.

sarah at secret housewife said...

Thanks for your comments! Its weird how important tech is in most of our lives now. I think we have a pretty healthy balance, but I want to keep on top of it all. x

sager said...

Very informative and well written post! Quite interesting and nice topic chosen for the post.

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