We have an ongoing debate in our, we being my husband and I, house about electronics. I am self-admitted tech geek since an early age I wanted a good stereo (got this from my Dad who also had to have an 8 track in his car, remote control tv and beta tape player), then a good boom box, onto a walkman, to a cd walkman, to first gen ipod to current i device madness. I love the idea of what you can do with these devices - the information I can look up at my fingertips, movies I can watch on the train (more on that in a bit), books have gone electronic for me and music... there is so much music. I take pics with my phone, connect via my phone -- oddly enough do not blog via my i devices and only because it does not work well. Of course I play some apps with my phone.. that Candy Crush, Plants v Zombies, Angry Birds bug has gotten me.
So having said all of that I live with someone who still requires my assistance to scan items. He has no interest in any of the above except for the ipad which he uses fairly frequently - for wine, restaurant and sports reviews mostly. Screen time is not important to him. He did not play video games like I did, in a candy store and then on Atari with a square ball at home.
Put these 2 adults together with children who are surrounded by devices and their siren call, tons of literature that can induce guilt at not having them ready for the future world where devices will be the norm competing with tons of literature that assures me I have once again failed as a parent by letting them go near these for more than a glimpse. The games are educational and the games are violent. They don't play enough outside, they have less concentration, they are informed, they are exposed to too much too early, they are tech savvy... AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
My husband thinks they need very little screen time. I say that I do not believe they should spend all day playing on their devices, by the way said devices are our old iphones and a X-box, but I also understand that like me my youngest child is easily attracted to and intrigued by these devices and their capabilities. I want to let them grow up knowing how to interact with their peers beyond virtual space and I need them to understand that virtual space is not only a place for fun but a place where bullying and worse can happen.
I monitor the games they play, the movies they want to watch much more than setting a timer for their screen time. I watch them play with their friends and realize they have a common language with the apps and games they play much like we had a common language with what was new back in our childhood days. A language about music that was different and things we found fun that our own parents did not approve of or understand often. I differ from my husband in trying to get them to do the things I did while insisting they at least try some of the things I had fun doing - playing board games comes to mind and they like it.
As a parent it is always a balancing act - to understand how times change and how your child needs to change with them - to never forget to teach and set rules while making sure those rules are fair. My boys have days without screen time and car rides with lots of it. They are comfortable with technology in a way that previous generations were not - as just part of the things they have at their disposal. If I could pass along one thing that I have always found it is that I like the devices but I love what I get from them more - the music, the reading, the knowledge. Those are the things that enable me to have the social and personal connections that are important to my life. I respect the developers of all of these for their vision in all of these inventions but never forget to do that they needed imagination which they found not in an app but by stopping, thinking, exploring, discussing and then launching it.
So to screen or not to screen... not sure either fits at all times. On that note I went to watch a movie that I rented on my commute. I rented "Lovelace"..yeah that one about Linda Lovelace. It is rated R and overall pretty mild, especially considering the topic and the movie the real Ms. Lovelace made. However, I found myself at a couple of times looking over my shoulder making sure no one was watching me watching it....to screen or not to screen even us adults sometimes have to figure that out. Oh I did finish watching it on the train because it's my screen and I'll watch if I want to.....