Electronic Monsters | Seventh Generation
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Electronic Monsters

Author: kmiddings

Tired Child with Remote ControlIn this age of endless technology, the way children spend their time is changing dramatically.

How many times do we hear ourselves say, "If you fight over the remote control one more time everyone goes to bed!" Parents now compete with the TV, the video game system, the computer.

Have you noticed how electronics can turn the sweetest child into an irritable monster? Especially when you ask them to retire the remote for an hour of reading or homework or playing outside?

How do you deal with electronics overload in your house? Post here, and I'll be back with a collection of the answers.

photo: Lars Plougmann


sfrost272 picture
Who has time for TV? We're blessed with a neighborhood full of kids, so when homeworks over, they all head outside to play for as long as possible. On the rare occasions my son is inside, I set the kitchen timer for TV or Wii and he knows when the buzzer goes off, its time for something else.
Weatherlight picture
If anything, it can--like many other activities--teach timing, learning, rules, critical thinking, shorter reaction times, problem solving, cooperation (in multiplayer games and games with good AI), etc. Things like watching TV and reading books are much more passive. Why don't we condemn reading print books the most? It's just one twisted prejudice that happened to come up in one of many human cultures, with no reason or logic to it. Kids (and adults) can fight over anything, electronic or not. You don't say "Stop fighting over your mother/youngest sibling/juice pitcher/favorite storybook/red crayon/beach ball/etc or you won't have one for the rest of the day!" (Or at least, hopefully not.) More insane bias. What would make sense is "Stop fighting over your deities or you won't have religion ever again!" hehe. Tabletop games, sports, foods, anything can have the "don't want to stop" thing going in some people, in some environments. I found it interesting that in positive book reviews, reviewers write that something is a "real page-turner" or they "couldn't put the book down" or the like, yet in negative complaints, parents say that their children "couldn't put the controller down." And the sweetest anyone of any age is going to be disappointed if you order them to stop (P-) a rewarding activity that they enjoyed and expected to continue (R+), especially if you then insist they start an activity that they find unpleasant, uncomfortable, painful, confusing, boring, or otherwise aversive (P+). Simple behaviorism, everyone. If you're a lay person who wants a fun, easy read without weird jargon, go read Karen Pryor's Don't Shoot the Dog (it's a passive paperback book, just be warned!). There is always more than one approach to modifying someone's behavior. I liked reading about Jessica's family. Not because of their choice of activities (I don't favor books over fingerpainting or vice versa, I don't have that type of bias) but because they seem to be enjoying themselves, which is what life is really about. It shouldn't be about forcing other people away from certain activities, but letting them choose to simply do something else with their time (as it is in her case regarding TV). Sometimes people have a little love affair when they discover something new and fun, whether it's a mystery series or a ball game or action TV show or video game, and their initial enthusiasm can be worrisome--especially if they neglect other activities, proper eating, etc--but it doesn't last long if they're in a healthy environment. There's just so much other fun stuff around that spending all day reading several books in a row just gets old :) No need to pry the book out of the kid's fingers once the novelty wears off. What can be pathological is a severe, long-lasting, damaging compulsion to watch TV, eat food, draw, talk to other people, or anything else. But it's not the activity per se that's the problem; it's just a symptom of a person who doesn't have enough joy in their lives to begin with. If you take away everything truly satisfying, pleasurable, stimulating, entertaining, etc from someone's life, and then put in one thing (chocolate, video games, etc), they're likely to overdo it, but that's normal. It can just be hard to pinpoint when, in reality, we or people around us are in a situation where they don't have enough balance in their lives, even though it's obvious in a situation such as a caged zoo animal. Summary: Healthy people with healthy lives don't get sucked into repeating one unhealthy activity. They don't have to force themselves to "not give into temptation," they simply don't feel very tempted. They have their priorities in perspective and have such a wide range of good things in their lives that one more is no big deal. As for the plastic shower curtains, I used to use those too because they're large, cheap, and easy to clean, until I realized what exactly was in those nasty fumes. I do believe SG had a Q&A on those shower curtains, carcinogens, VOCs, etc a while ago.
shae420247 picture
Well no kids yet but hubby and I pretty much always have the TV on. I was raised on it hubby was only allowed so much a day as a child. Total opposite, I hope to limit all TV for kids when the miracle does happen! Great to hear ideas for outdoor and indoor play, I myself am a big kid. No video games here with very limited computer usage. Life without TV is foreign to me so thank you!
jessicalauren1014 picture
On the rare occassion that the TV gets turned on - no one watches it. It is the MOST obnoxious background noise. We spend most of our time outdoors playing and playing and playing. My kids use of all the energy they had and made, then crash at naptime. They wake up refreshed and we do it again. There is no need for TV. We can walk, run, cycle, create, explore, and learn - all without the use of TV, Movies, or worse - video games. Though, one electronic that is in regular use around our house is the radio. Singing and Dancing is our favorite! On rainy days - we fingerpaint, draw, read, nap, and snack. When we can't stand another second of indoors, we put on rainboots and hit the puddles! Everything we would normally do outdoors is so much more fun when it is drizzling rain on us! After we are good and muddy - warm baths all around! Fingerpainting Carpet Saver - my kids are 1 and 3. I put down a $2.50 plastic shower curtain and lay the paper out over the curtain. The kids rotate around the curtain adding color to each of the pieces of art. Then we re-use our curtain next time we paint!
KidsTravelHappy picture
My opinion is that kids need known and understood limits, as well as supervision. Electronics should never baby sit kids or replace exercise and family time. Our kids each get 1/2 hr of TV OR computer per day, they can pool it for a longer show, but when it's over, computer/TV is off. Of course we use movies for special occasions, but creativity & learning comes from UNplugged play. We do our children no good by 'plugging' them in.