Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kids and electronic media - too much or not enough?

At this time of year, we start making our Christmas "wish lists" in our family. I know it sounds early, but I like to shop early in order to be able to actually enjoy the Christmas season. And if I do the early preparation, I know what we are shopping for on Black Friday and can locate the deals for those items on Thanksgiving day. Preparation = HUGE SAVINGS!

This year on my wish list I have two big items. I am hoping that my husband (are you reading this honey?) thinks that I have been a good enough girl this year in order to deserve them. *wink*

iPod Touch

One of the bigger items on my list is an iPod Touch. I have been feeling the itch for a new "toy" this year. I love how the iPod touch can give me access to so many fun applications, not just for myself, but for the kids too.

There is one huge drawback to this though. Lately, Miss H has gotten a little addicted to screen time. My friend Chrystal came over to watch the girls for me one Saturday, and she let Miss H play with a Barbie dress up application on her iPhone. When I returned home and it was time for Chrystal to go, Miss H had a giant temper tantrum and screamed and cried about wanting to play more with the game. The next two days she kept begging for me to go run more errands so Chrystal could come back with her game.

Several weeks ago, we began letting Miss H have 30 minutes of computer game time. We have a Sesame Street game that she enjoys and I also let her play some games on PBS Kids, again with a 30 minute time limit. She used to be really good with her time limits, but this week she has just been unwilling to let go of computer time.

I feel like I am creating a monster. She sees me at the computer checking my "email" (and facebook and twitter) regularly, which shows her that the computer is something fun and of value to me. I have been really trying not to have computer time unless she is engaged in another activity because I know that my example goes a long way.

So, what if I get this iPod Touch? And worse yet, what if I let her play with it occasionally? It is going to be a huge temper tantrum every time her 30 minutes of play time is over? I am really conflicted here.

My next thought is maybe I should get her a toy or some type of electronic device that she can use on her own. For instance, the vtech MobiGo is a touch learning system with educational games on it. The Leapfrog Leapster Explorer is another option.
vtech MobiGo

My husband and I have always been very anti-videogaming and I don't want to create a screen zombie. But I also have to ask myself if I am doing her a disservice by not exposing her to technology. In a day and age when smaller, faster, more capable machines are launched every day in our society, our children are going to be even more of a technological generation than you and I are. They will never know what it was like to grow up without a computer, either at home, in the classroom, or at the library. They will never know what it was like to not have a cell phone.

So what do you think? Are these types of electronic learning devices a help or a hindrance to our children's education? Do they do more harm or good?



Marketing Mama said...

I am very interested to see what people have to say about this. The Bug already loves playing games or looking at pictures on my iPhone and I dread what's coming. But you make a valid point. It's the times. And at what point are we doing a disservice?

blueviolet said...

I think we're very nearly fighting a losing battle with technology in terms of our kids. They're just the techy generation!

Shell said...

I really just started letting my boys play video games or computer games. Bc all the kids seem to know how and I don't want mine behind.

Bree said...

I have a droid phone (new to this stuff myself) and LOVE IT. I have used it for maps when I get lost, I have used it for some games to calm a screaming child and on occasion to enjoy reading thru my email before I get home...
I have thought the same thing about electronic time for my kids and this is the world we live in. I think that the keys is moderation in all things- including that. Usually the extreme of either doesn't have the intended affect anyway, plus it's biblical- to be balanced :)- So, a little may be okay. Cute blog and happy to meet you from the Dream Team!_ bree

Cheryl said...

I am so curious to hear people's opinions of this. I just saw this plush thing that's designed to protect iPhones/iPods while kids play with them, and it got me wondering about this very same topic. My friends have kids less than two who know how to work the iPod, and I have such conflicting feelings about it. On the one hand, it makes me cringe, but on the other, it's the world in which we're living. I would love to see a follow-up post about this!