If My Kids Want To Play Video Games, They Better Know How To Cut The Grass.

Cutting The Grass
Image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/rush-cut-mow-grass-green-971888/ (Caption within image my own)

Welcome back readers!

I didn’t receive my first cell phone until I was eighteen.

Of course, I grew up in a time when cell phones weren’t being handed out to children right out of the womb. It just wasn’t necessary for me to have one until I went off to college. My wife actually can do one better than me; she didn’t get her first mobile phone until in her twenties! In today’s world these contraptions (along with various other technological advancements) are ingrained into our everyday lives. Yet somehow, my wife and I have done pretty well to not indulge in every new gadget that hits the market.

I think the reason the two of us are this way is due to a simple fact; we are the last generation with a majority of individuals raised on the simplicities life has to offer. Dinner time was made to be a family gathering and not a time to have any high-tech distractions. Playtime for us was mostly outdoors and we used our imaginations.

With a continual trend towards supersaturation of media stimulation, children aren’t developing the way they should. And of course, all of this exposure doesn’t just hinder our young children; too much social media can have an impact on short-term memory for everyone, including adults. Oh shit, I recently created a Twitter account to promote my blog! Hope that doesn’t affect me…

So, that’s the secret to making stronger coffee. Wait, I forgot what I was writing about. DAMN YOU SOCIAL MEDIA!! Okay, found my train of thought.

I think a big question in parenting which doesn’t present itself outright is how much exposure to media is okay for our kids? The reason I say it’s an obscure problem goes back to what I mentioned earlier; it’s hard to get away from the virtual influence. Sometimes we just unwittingly zone out, subjecting ourselves to far too much. Like technology zombies.

So, how do we parents handle this dilemma?

I know this will be a big challenge for my wife and I with a toddler and eventually, a new baby. Actually, who are we kidding it’s already a challenge! Our son is like every kid and loves that big glowing rectangle. And honestly, I’m as guilty as anyone else, letting him watch his shows at certain times (because Papa can only play so much hide-and-seek!). Even though I show him only educational programs, there has to be a limit because it’s still television. The sad thing is there are some facts which show media is basically our children’s pastime in today’s society:

media
Graphic courtesy of: http://www.early-childhood-education-degrees.com/kids-and-media/

So far, we have limited our son to between a half-hour to an hour of television per day (at the most). He doesn’t ask for his favorite shows too often. And if he does plead and it isn’t the right time, a simple “no” from one of us deters him. Luckily, it works. So far.

As for the other technological nuisances, we have created a fluid timeline when we feel our kids will be ready for certain privileges, such as:

Age Five: Can watch more than one hour of television per day

Maybe. And this really depends on football season and if they become fans.

Age Ten: Can get their first video game system

We don’t even own one ourselves (unless you count the Nintendo® 64 serving as a paper weight in our bookshelf). There ARE stipulations to this rule. They can only play for a couple of hours. On the weekends. If they can mow the lawn in under an hour.

Age Sixteen: Can get a cell phone for the first time

My wife and I both feel a cell phone is only necessary once a teenager starts driving. This way, in case any emergencies happen, they have a way to contact us. Also, here’s to hoping the driving age in Florida is raised to twenty-one.

Those are just some of the guidelines we have talked about for our kids. We want to try ideas which ensure our family stays connected to each other as much as possible and doesn’t become too connected to the media world. The whole point is to try to show future generations there is more to life. Time will tell if our rules work for us (and maybe other parents reading this). We also may have to eventually change some details. Except for mowing the lawn. That rule stays, dammit.

-Do other parents reading this feel the same way? Do you have your own set of guidelines to attempt deterrence of too much media? Or do you feel like it’s a waste of time trying to stop its influence?

Feel free to comment below!

 

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14 thoughts on “If My Kids Want To Play Video Games, They Better Know How To Cut The Grass.

  1. My son is five and we let him watch tv/play on our tablet and he has a tv in his room with a dvd player (he only watches this on friday and saturday nights). We put him to bed at the same time on a achool night so his is properly rested. He also does after school clubs and karate twice a week so his media watching isn’t that much really. We make sure he does his homewirk every week and we get him ro read a book to us every night. I have no issues with him watching tv etc as long as homework and things are done. I haven’t thought about the mobile phone yet, i certainly wouldn’t want him to have one in primary school but not sure about secondary school. I still have many years to decide yet anyway. Great post mate

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Abhhh this is such a big issue these days. I got my first cell phone at 13 BUT I got it because I was always running around OUTSIDE. I used it to contact my mom and obviously my friends. But it was mostly because I was gone a lot. For perspective, I’m 26 now. So technology became big in my generation but their were no 5 year olds with tablets. I had big issues with my ex’s daughter over this. Her mom and sometimes her dad would let her sit on a tablet or computer for hours of the day because it was easy for them. She was obsessed with Peppa Pig and she watched it so much that she literally started talking in a British accent. Her parents thought it was cute, I found it disturbing. Children mimic what they see the most. A tv show should not be that. My 5 year old nephew can perfectly navigate an iPad and YouTube but doesn’t know how to hold a pencil. That will NOT be my kids.

    I have a 4 month old now and I fully intend to restrict her screen time. I think part of the problem is that parents are afraid to let their kids just run around outside until dark like my parents did. We’re much more knowledgeable now about things like kidnappings and sexual assaults. Because we’ve heard about it so much we recognize that it happens everywhere and no one wants it to be their kid. In the same right, they don’t have the time or patience to be 24/7 entertainment for their kids. So instead of buying them books and games and things they can do close to home, they hand them a tablet, because it’s easy. And I get the appeal of it. Nothing is quite as sweet as a silent three year old after 30 rounds of 20 questions; BUT there are other options. We have to let kids be kids and we have to stop instantly gratifying all their wants because then we set them up to want, almost need, that constant instant stimuli. They don’t know how to sit still for a few hours and read a really good book. They don’t spend hours on a drawing. They don’t go outside and use their imagination to play with their friends in the woods. We did other things because we didn’t have another option. And I think that’s what we have to give these kids: no other option. They get their 30 minutes or one hour of screen time and that’s it. Other times they have to do active or imaginative play that requires them to use their brain. There’s too much dulling of the senses and not enough exercising of the imagination.

    I remember going out into the tall grass fields with my friends and playing “army”. We used sticks as “guns” and had fake “wars” and we LOVED it. It wasn’t about sticks being “stupid” and war being a ridiculous game. We were just having fun with EACH OTHER, changing the rules every minute, making up new shit as we went, and much to our parents pleasure, using up allll of our energy. We had a great time and slept like rocks at the end of the day. Playgrounds weren’t for play dates, they were where we lived. I read TONS of books, drew all the time, and wrote stories. I had chores: dishes as soon as I could reach the sink with a stool, lawn mowing once I was big and smart enough to push the mower (my uncle would start it for me when I was still too weak to pull the cord hard enough), weeding the garden, vacuuming, laundry, anything. Parents now seem to think this is like abuse now haha. But it taught me work ethic and how great it was to finally get to go play when I was done. It taught me respect and because of that respect when I did finally get a phone I didn’t run up $400 because “fuck it, not my money, not my problem”. There’s so much that’s changed since I was a kid and I for one don’t think it was for the better.

    There’s nothing wrong with some screen time. I had a Nintendo 64 by the time I was 13 but I didn’t play it much because it got boring because I was so used to running around and playing outside! The perspective has totally flipped now. And I only watched tv occasionally, again because I found it to be boring. I do think it’s possible to raise kids this way today, even if other people don’t. If they get more screen time at their friends the way I used to get to eat more candy at mine then that’s fine because at the end of the day they know the rules at home and that will be what they’re experiencing the most. That’s what counts. Good post though! Sorry my answer was so long. I obviously feel very strongly about it lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No worries on the long reply! You brought up some great points. I especially like what you said regarding choices; kids don’t seem to have enough of the ones we had and some of that is due to the increase in tech and some is due to how much more aware we are of the horrible things that can happen to our children. But also like you mentioned, having exposure to other activities can help growth in other areas, like responsibility. That was an excellent point by you!

      I think it all comes down to finding some kind of balance so the youth of today are well-rounded in their experiences. Thanks for the feedback! 🙂

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  3. Dallas Cowboys football games are mandatory viewing in our house. LOL

    And my son’s been playing video games since he could hold a controller because we’re gamers ourselves. One of the FIRST things we bought for ourselves as a totally grown up married couple was a video game system (Sega something or other..we spent a LOT of time playing Spyro the Dragon together). We now own THREE systems–a Wii U, XBOX 1 (that’s off limits to our 13 yr old though) and a Nintendo Classic Mini (just because we’re dorks and we’re also super nostalgic like that).

    He does not..and will not until he can pay for it himself, have one in his room. He doesn’t have a TV in his room either, for the same reason. If he wants his own TV, he’s gonna pay for it. Or butter up Mimi and Poppop into buying it for him, like he did with his first ever CD/radio/alarm clock (last year’s birthday gift).

    He doesn’t have a cellphone, for the same reason. If he wants one, he’s going to have to find a way to pay for it.

    But we are HUGE on tech in our house. We have a smart NEST thermostat. We have two Amazon Echo Dots and we each have our own tablet and our DVD players connect to the internet so we can stream our favorite stuff from Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix.

    I don’t know what I’d do without all this tech, to be honest. I’d probably be really sad..and bored. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha well it seems you have really great ground rules established regarding the various tech. Which will teach your son some great responsibility. For me, I’m not a big tech person myself but definitely get the appeal of it all. It can make life very interesting and convenient.

      Oh and for us, it’s Giants and Saints games as mandatory viewing. 🙂 So, I shall wish your Cowboys luck this year as I’m sure it will be a battle once again between our teams!

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  4. All really wonderful ideas but you forgot one thing. Your child won’t have many friends and will pretty much not fit in with anyone his own age. Other than that, you’re on the right track. He may start using the things other kids have, in order not to stand out too much, but if he can’t contact the other kids and won’t know what they are talking about or what they are doing, the child will be cut off from the crowd, maybe even bullied. The thing is, your ideas are sound. They are healthy, but they may actually harm your child’s ability to function with his/her peers. That’s important. Social interaction when young, in high school, is important in so many ways. Without the ability to be one of the gang you are putting the child in a precarious position. If he can’t play the video games (don’t like those things) he will be left out, even if he’s too slow because he wasn’t allowed to play them. Just something to think about. This is also true of parents who won’t let their kids dress like everyone else. It might not be right but it certainly is the way it is and while you may love and adore your child and think you’re doing everything right, his life outside of home may be difficult. Odd kids don’t have easy lives. Kids who can’t keep up are left behind and there are emotional consequences for that. The life of a child outside of his/her home is a space just for him/her and being an outcast may color the rest of his/her life. I’ve seen these things happened. Listened to parents talk but not understanding that home life and outside/peer life are not the same thing. It’s tough. Lots of sad stories about kids being ignored, left behind, because of decisions made by loving parents. Life is dangerous for kids today. More now than ever. You’ll have a lot of decisions to make, just remember that their lives are different when they are away from you. Good luck. 🙂 I think kids should play outside all the time too, believe me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, you make some good points. Social interaction is very different today then it was when the older generations today were growing up. I was writing to another blogger on this post that finding a good balance would be best, and that’ what my wife and I will try to do. I’m not a very big tech person but I guess it will be important for me to understand that my kids will most likely have to be in some ways. I think the important part will be establishing the ground rules that these things are for entertainment, and not the only way of life. Thank you for your point of view. Much appreciated 🙂

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  5. For TV we don’t really set limits, but they don’t watch much anyway. For tablets, they get a half hour per day. We don’t really limit their Wii time, but again, they often either don’t play it or don’t play it for long. If we feel they’ve had enough, we’ll kick ’em off. My oldest turns 10 this summer. He’s going to learn to mow when he does. Happy birthday, go mow! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. If we didn’t limit their tablet time they would never get off them. One day, many months ago, I allowed my oldest (8 at the time) to play as much tablet as he wanted. He played a for a couple hours then became cranky as a bear with an ingrown toenail and complained of a headache. Now he’s limited. There are still times I have to kick him off the Wii. Though, I usually just hide the games 🙂

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