Enough with the Video Games Already.

Updated on July 20, 2014
A.J. asks from Norristown, PA
33 answers

One day my kids will talk about how they had the weird, mean parents who didn't buy them any video games. Its not that they never play them...they are allowed to play them with friends at their houses and stuff. I just feel that they already watch sufficient TV, which isn't any better, they also do some school work and emails on the computer, but when they're out and about, they can be unplugged. We've been on countless long car trips, plane rides, in hundreds of waiting rooms, in every situation imaginable where they could be bored, and it honestly hasn't been a problem. I've never once felt the need to hand them a device to keep them happy. They draw, play hangman, tic tac to, talk, play, stare into space, go outside, whatever.

But I swear there are times I feel that WHENEVER the kids ever do anything, ALL their friends are playing video games all the time. Even the neighborhood kids have started to bring their video games into our yard!!!....and at that point I usually call the kids in because if they're too bored to climb trees or play real games, they can just come in dammit. And what's with all the 8 year olds with smart phones? My oldest is 8 and I can't fathom....ok nevermind..

Latest examples, all within this last week:
I let the kids go over and play with their favorite neighbors. It was a beautiful, mild, non-humid day. Those kids have a trampoline and awesome yard. I said they had 30 mins 'til dinner. When I went to pick them up where were they? Huddled in the dark house on a laptop, a DS and a smart phone with the friends. Another day I dropped them off for TKD summer camp the first day and my youngest was nervous. While I signed them in I lost track of her. When I found her a few minutes later: She was huddled in a corner with kids on iPads. Why the need for iPads at Taikwondo summer camp with 45 friends to run around with before it starts? And today I walked over with my daughters to the neighbors to feed their cat while they are out of town. On the way, we came across their 9yo friend who they rarely see because her parents divorced and she splits time. She asked if they could stay with her in her yard (where she has scooters and bikes and balls) while I fed the cats so I said sure. When I came back: You guessed it The kids were sitting down huddled around her and her iPhone while she played a game...and I could tell a hundred more stories. I drove my kids 90 minutes to a Christmas orchestra concert and the entire time my son could not unglue his eyes from the game a kid sitting next to him was playing. I ended up switching seats with my son to break the trance. That kid's parents brought the game so the kid wouldn't get bored WATCHING THE CHRISTMAS CONCERT.
What the heck.
Is this anyone else's experience? Thoughts?

***Just wanted to add, I didn't mean to sound like my kids are laid back and naturally un-squirrelly in times of boredom. Far from it!! It has taken LOTS of discipline and patience to get them to wait a half hour quietly in their seats for a long play to start like we did last night...but such is life right? They have to learn that self control..I had to learn it when I was a kid anyway..in the stone age..

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So What Happened?

With all due respect, Jill K. I respect that you are one of the parents who has struck a healthy balance with the games, but my kids are NOT more addicted to and fascinated by the games than the kids who OWN them. Far from it. The levels of addiction to these games in some kids is insane. My kids are fine without them and fine when I ask them to walk away from some games after a while. Your premise that I need them in my home or I have gone to a detrimental extreme is not true. They play video games so much with other kids it would be overkill to have them at home too honestly. They barely have time for chores, music practices, martial arts, etc after play time without their own video games at home to add into the equation. I also have a balance. We get computer work from school starting in 2nd grade and my kids are in no way banned from learning technology. My kids all use my laptop for their French tutoring and other school things. The participate in their tech classes at school and will do that work at home too. I'm also OK with them buying their own games with their own money when they get older. I had no video games as a child and have no problem with technology, and the same goes for some of todays top computer programmers and creators. I know not EVERY child I see on a game is always on the game, but overall, I do see a deluge. Again, kudos to you for keeping a good balance.

At Theresa N. actually I always respect your posts on here, so since you have the wisdom of being someone with grown kids who played tons of games and had no adverse effects, it's a relief and I may not sweat it so much. Thanks for your perspective.

Julie S, I don't know why you are hostile to my posts on a regular basis other than that you don't like me and need everyone to know it, but your opinion that "no one" agreed with me is kind of weird. It would be fine if no one did agree with my opinion on this btw, I wasn't assuming everyone would agree, but did you read the other posts? There were both opinions represented.

**added, You're right, Julie S. I just reread your post. It's not at all hostile. Upon reflection I am always mean and superior in all my posts as you say. Anyone who goes back and reads them will see that. Thanks for keeping close track. I haven't been so vigilant in following all of your writing but I'm sure if I was to go back and read all of your posts (except the ones that were pulled) they're not hostile either just like this one isn't.

Featured Answers


answers from Albany on

Shrug, I'm one of those annoying parents who never really restricted video game time with my two now adult very successful, totally balanced sons.

In fact, video games actually supplied the motivation for both of their college majors, computer engineering and political science/history.



15 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I have to agree with some people who have questioned if it's more of a boy issue. I have girls and this isn't a problem at all but I hear it from friends who have boys and posts on here. Interesting... But I don't have advice. :).

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

I wonder how many moms adamantly agreeing with this are doing so on their smartphones or iPads?

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

Stay with me here, because I have a partial explanation as well as some commiseration. I'll be swinging back and forth a lot.

Your kids gravitate towards devices at every opportunity because you've taken a hardline against video games in your home and made it delicious rare fruit that they seek out when the opportunity arises. It is a very predictable situation which I've seen happen many times before. The choices you made with the very best of intentions have backfired.

I am in agreement with you about devices in concerts, in restaurants, in movie theaters, and so on. Making exceptions for special needs...being able to wait, pay attention, converse, etc. is an important group of life skills. I think kids need to be taught that for devices some places are not appropriate, and many places it is not necessary.

My kids love to play outside. My yard is often full of neighbor kids and none of them have ever brought over a game device. They bring Nerf guns and footballs. They have built a massive fort using sticks, branches and scrap lumber. Our city is full of parks and trails, beaches on lakes and rivers. It is a very outdoorsy place in general.

My kids also love video games. They have their own computer, we own several consoles, they have DS handhelds. (The DSs stay at home unless we're on an overnight trip and they don't play in the car.). Video games have never been a special thing in our household, as they were born into it and have never known a time where it didn't exist or wasn't allowed. We control their content as appropriate, of course.

My kids are physically fit and active in karate, as well as having other interests via school clubs and such. They are not obsessed with video games to the exclusion of all else.

The sleepaway summer camp (focus on nature/environment) my kids attended did not allow electronics of any kind, including phones. Everyone is fine unplugged for the week and they have a great time.

The day camp through the technical college involves computer programming, game playing and design, and video editing. Kids were welcome to bring their own devices. In the modern day, being able to learn and navigate tech is also a life skill and will play a part in many career options.

When I was a kid, video games were in their infancy and not common in homes. I was a reader. If my mom sent me 'outside to play' I'd often find some shade and hunker down with my book. People would occasionally comment on my reading the same way modern parents do about video games, thinking I should put the book down and do something else. Fast forward 25 years and people are asking me, "How do I get my kid to read?!"

My kids are also prolific readers and good students. At school, the kids who are unfamiliar with tech struggle to keep up because it is becoming integrated in everything, including core subjects. I discovered that I was horribly behind the times when I asked my then-6th grader if he had saved his project to his USB stick. He rolled his eyes and informed me that they use Google Docs now. Here'e the thing - without a home computer and internet access, he could not have worked on his assignment at home. They do give options to kids without access. Extra in-school time to work on it on a school computer or device, and usually an alternate non-tech option, but these kids fall behind as grades get higher. That's why our district has a program to give a laptop (to borrow for the year) to every kid from 9th grade up. They would like to expand it to start at 7th grade eventually.

Some of my adult friends who went through school without needing much tech and didn't pursue it on their own as adults are struggling now as they can't keep up with the changing technological demands of the workplace. It is difficult and frustrating to learn something new when you know your job is at risk if you can't master it. This is why there are so many adult education classes available today that teach 'the basics' that many of today's kids already know well by age 10.

What I'm saying is, there is a balance with 2014 parenting and it sounds like you have not found it yet. You're reacting to the extreme end of the spectrum (like devices in concerts) with too much ire and force and letting it push you into the other extreme.

Take some time to consider that a different approach may be necessary. This isn't about what other kids are doing, but about what your kids are doing. Less about the kid at the concert with the device and more about why your son has such a strong pull towards it that he can't stop without your intervention.

One thing that is clear is your love for your kids. It is obvious that you're trying to do your best by them.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I have an interesting experience with this. I was pretty much "your kids" when I was growing up. We didn't own any video games, computers, etc. I played a little at friends' houses, and would peek over a shoulder of a friend playing their handheld device.

As an adult, I am completely inept when it comes to some of the basic functions of these devices. It's kind of embarrassing. I wish my mom had lightened up a little bit and allowed me to have some sort of gaming time on my own so I could learn them without my friends laughing at how much I sucked at it. :-P I never wanted to play all the time, but every once in a while and I wouldn't have been so focused on them elsewhere.

As for kids playing games everywhere? I agree. It's out of hand. Limits are important and kids need to be socially and physically engaged instead of constantly "entertained" by a device.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Another item which needs balance in our parenting world.

Kiddo is seven, we have a simple house rule: no tv or video games when friends are here to play. Do I break that rule on occasion? You bet. The long hot day the neighbor girl was over and it really WAS too hot to play outside, I invited her to bring over a video. Both she and my son knew that was a special treat. Her family treats games the same way. Our other neighbor family is thoughtful and asks if her son can show mine a new game on his device -- she won't let him get it out, though, until the last ten minutes of that playtime together, because we are all on the same page: time with friends should be time with friends.

Then again, we have another little friend who, my son reports, always has his video games going. I don't forbid those playdates, but limit them. Mainly because of the lack of supervision from the parents, though, and the fact that the friend really doesn't know how to play beyond 'fighting' and the boys can get out of hand. Once again, another area where having a knee-jerk reaction won't help, but being thoughtful about structuring their playtimes (because this kid needs it, he gets bored without his games) can help.

My kid? He could care less about Minecraft and what his friends play; he might do 20-30 minutes or so at a time of a Lego video game on my laptop, but he's got bigger fish to fry,his own imaginative ideas to play out. Video game/tv time is a privilege in our house, it comes after our other responsibilities are taken care of. Will his desires change in the coming years, as he gets older? Likely.

But what's MY part in this? To lead by example. I think part of the allure for younger kids is that they see their adults sitting around, looking at screens on their phones or laptops and everywhere *they* go. Sometimes, the apple really doesn't fall far from the tree.

In a short while, I'm going to shut this computer off, go outside, pick blueberries and water my garden. After breakfast, we'll think of something to do as a family. We try hard to lead by example as parents in a world which is in conflict with some of our own parenting philosophies. We go out to the pub with our son and sometimes see children, even as young as toddlers, with devices. I'm not going to judge those parents, who likely see this as a way they can have two minutes to look at a menu or chat with each other, but I can see that if they continue to refer the child to 'look at the game, not to us for interaction', that what you witness may likely be their future. Then again, they may have spent the entire day together. Who knows?

I feel bad for the kids who don't have the ability to just sit quietly and watch for a while--but also bad for those who don't have parents who might understand that often, a real-life babysitter is preferable to a video game sitter. The kid at the holiday concert might have been better served by not having to sit through something he really didn't enjoy. But again-- apple/tree. I see plenty of *adults* on their phones at events which I would never have expected to see. My husband and I recently went to a basketball game and another young couple we knew spent all their time taking selfies and not watching the game.

These ---- the smartphones, video game systems, etc-- are only artifacts of our own self-absorbed society. They didn't create this sort of narcissism, when focusing on the self, on what only we, ourselves are doing, is of utmost importance-- but it has certainly magnified it. We are a bit old-fashioned about devices: we have 'dumb' phones -we don't pay for internet access for our cheap cell phones, as we have computers at home. We go out to get away from those things and to focus/enjoy what we are doing and to connect as a family. Our son will be earning any devices he has; save up your money if you want a DS or something like that, or even save up half and we'll match you the rest for a present. I'm wanting to be thoughtful and flexible in how I approach something which seems like a hot-button for so many parents.

In the meantime, I also am aware that I am going to be challenged, as a parent, to find engaging activities which can compete with the thrill (for so many kids) of video games. Which means stretching and growing on my part, listening to my son and what he's interested in. I can tell you that if given the choice of a half-hour of video game time vs that time with a friend, or building legos with dad or myself, he'll take the human interaction nearly every time. I can't control or influence how other people raise their kids nor their expectations, and I do think that most things are fine with moderation and balance... all I can do is raise my own kid as I see fit.

I also want to say that for some kids, video games can be a part of life which helps them feel capable, adequate, or having mastery in some way.... those are more complicated situations, truly, and I am not qualified to have any contempt for the child in question. One teen I know feels like an absolute failure in some parts of his life due to disinterested parents who haven't helped him as they should, who don't treat him like a beloved kid-- the game and his friends online give him some sense of community, of achievement. I think the game is his one lifeline, personally. He feels competent, he can lead that small group of players, and he has a sense of being needed, of belonging, which he doesn't feel within his own family.

What we truly see may not always be what we think we are seeing.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I agree with your post. My thought is that this is not just kids though. Many adults are also plugged into gadgets. It is a large part of the way we live now. Personally, I am addicted to Candy Crush and am finding it difficult to break away and do other more meaningful things. I have to really make a conscientious effort to redirect myself from this devil. I get how kids can be so absorbed into games and gadgets. It's easy. Also, most schools now use IPads for teaching. I do try everyday to make sure my family does things that don't involve electronics. One must set limits.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My son loves his video games (husband plays his fair amount too.) So WHAT? I don't understand this mentality. My girls used to spend hours playing Barbies, I didn't limit them because I didn't think it was an "appropriate" use of their time.
The games they play are social and interactive, there's plenty of strategy and problem solving, plus it's just FUN.
Remember fun???
In our family we all spend our individual free time doing things WE enjoy, not just what mommy likes. As long as schoolwork, chores, exercise and other family obligations are met I say this loud and clear to the micro managing mommies of the world:
lay off your boys and let them have a good time already!!!
ETA: it's worth adding that my son's passion for gaming led, in large part, to his college major, computer science. He's about a year and a half away from graduation and VERY excited at many prospects for employment in the tech industry. So glad I let him pursue his natural interests!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

This year for archery camp the instructors told the kids to power down their phones/devices or the phones/devices would be used for target practice.
THAT sure got their attention!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Every family I know has a gaming system of some kind, and a lot of them play games together. And I'm pretty sure most of them don't allow their kids to play games at the dinner table or restaurant at a show either (frankly I think adults are way ruder when it comes to electronics in public.)
Really, all your doing is driving your kids away. They will naturally want to spend more time at their friends' houses and less time at home, is that really what you want?
It's like the parents who wouldn't allow rock and roll back in the day, the kids simply avoided going home and hung out where the fun was.
I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill, and creating an unnecessary rift in your relationship with your kids.
You may not be a mean mom but you sure seem like an inflexible one.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I agree with Yarmatey, that to some degree, it may be a function of your kids not having access that makes it all the more attractive.

While I do agree that no 8 year old "needs" a smartphone, I understand how in some families it makes sense that they have A phone.. and a hand-me-down might happen to BE a smartphone.

That said, my kids (16 today, and 13) both finally now have smartphones. They've had ipods for several years, and laptops, Ds lites, Wii, PS3, etc. Yes, they will sit and be on them sometimes for long periods. But not for days on end. They get tired of that stuff. And our kids didn't have technology (DVD players?) in the car for travel, which we did a lot of when they were small... for YEAAAARs. As in, my eldest was about 10 yrs old when they finally were gifted (not by us) with DVD players for car trips. And that is the only time they have it out and in the car... is on long (6 hours or more) car trips.

They'd usually rather swim, or skateboard, or play basketball or something outside if the weather is conducive to those things... if they have friends around. They reserve the video more for after dark, bad weather, or when they are hot and tired and sweaty and come in to cool off.

And tech at taekwondo? My daughter has taken her ipad to TangSooDo many times... or her laptop.. for in between classes. (As in, she and her brother were not in the same class, so one would be sitting out during the other's class). They can't just get up and run around when there is a class going on--it is disruptive to the class taking place. They would plug in earphones and watch Netflix. Or play fruit ninja or something. No big deal.

I, personally, tend to view it like chocolate and sweets. Time and place, you know? Be too restrictive and your kids will gorge themselves when they finally have access. But teach them to enjoy it appropriately, and they will be able to do just that. Not during meals. Not at parties. Not when it is rude to have it out... You don't sit on your phone/ipod/ipad/laptop when you have guests sitting around chatting. You don't pull them out at the table, either.
Imagine, instead of technology, it was a candy bar... or a book. Would you tell your kids they can't have it at home? Or would you teach them HOW to appreciate it at home, and how/when it is appropriate/not appropriate to have/use in group settings or when at a friend's house?

In my view, it's pretty much the same logic.
Oh.. wanted to add. Since my kids do have plenty of access to such things at home, they are usually one of the first ones to call someone else out and ask them to put their phone (or whatever) away! It doesn't hold the same attraction for them, and they have been taught that certain situations it is rude to be using them. So when they are with friends (or even family that is slightly older than them), they will call them out on it. "We should put these away." and then suggest something else.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

My SIL made her boys earn time on the electronics.
She also had control over the electronics because they were all set up in the pool house and she had the key. They earned time with their chores, their reading and their playing outside.

Now do not get me wrong There were times when the friends went over and had epic game days.. They spent hours battling it out. To this day I hear those guys talking about how awesome that was.. They are now in college.

She had a pool and an incredible yard. They went hunting and fishing. They were active. But she learned her sons were best when they did not play those games for hours and hours every day.

My nephew and his friends played the electronic games at each others homes, but these were boys that also played, on lots of team sports. baseball Soccer, Lacrosse and football. They rode their bikes all over the place until they go their licenses.

If you do not want the games at your house, make it a rule.
If your kids do not want to play them at others homes, they need to speak up or just not go over.

Make sure your children are in group sports. They will get plenty of interaction with friends that way.

But no one can put the Genie back in the bottle with electronics at this time.

It is like the TV in the 60's and the record players in the '50's.. Every generation has something that they become obsessed with.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Makes me crazy to see all these kids on phones, iPads etc. parents are to blame. Unplug them. Long car rides? There are so many games to be played thT requires interaction with family members. Could you imagine!!! I babysit my granddaughters. We get in car, no toys. The oldest is two. She has learned about traffic lights, red green, stop go. Colors of cars, letters etc. does she like my iPad yes. Has she learned a tremendous amount on it yes. She gets 15 min a day max. She has a great imagination. As long as I babysit, the girls will never be plugged in like kids are today.

I think electronics are free babysitting services. Sad that this is what our world has come to.

Kids need to play outside. Do girls even know how to jump rope anymore?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I think kids tend to gravitate towards what they don't have access to on a regular basis. We don't have a pool, so all my son wants to do at his friends' house is swim. They get out after an hour, and my son will swim for two more hours. We don't have a device with Minecraft, so that's all he does when he goes to another friend's house. I believe everything in moderation. My son can live without the handheld games, if I ask him to leave them at home. It is not a struggle or a fight. This is showing another form of self-discipline, I feel. I do have some friends whose kids always have to be entertained. Some kids are that way.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

Maybe your kids are so entranced because they only have limited gaming opportunities that arise when they are with friends? Maybe your kids are asking to play or watch? I don't know.

Do I think kids should be using devices at concerts? No. Do I think some kids play video games too often? Yes.

I see kids and teens using devices but I also see a lot of playing with non gaming devices.

I give my kids a set amount of time to play video games. If they choose to use that time while waiting for sports practice to begin or while waiting for an appointment, I don't see the problem. And if other parents are sitting around thinking damn why don't you just have your kid play hangman (which is actually one of the apps my 7 year old likes) it is no skin off my nose.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

It's an electronic world. Like it or not. Our kids need to be aware and comfortable with the tech that is the back bone of this generation. I often wish it did not exist but it does. And as already posted, these are the jobs for many of our kids today. You may want your kids to climb tress but many many computer based activities will incite their imagination and help them in life. Unless you un plug off the grid somewhere maybe a little healthy exposure to some tech ( dance apps, yoga apps, physical games, chess)?
I feel your pain as I resisted it at first but honestly, it makes me a dinosaur.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I hear exactly what you're saying. There's nothing wrong with electronics in moderation, but some kids take them everywhere and some parents hand them over at every opportunity. Parents don't want to have to entertain their children by talking to them or teach them how to patiently sit in a restaurant, so here's the phone or tablet so to keep the kids occupied so the parents can "relax". It drives me nuts.

My kids are 5, 3, and 1. We watch A LOT of TV at home. The kids are allowed time on our iPads and phones at home. When we absolutely have to, because we've asked a lot of them already, like yesterday while taking the baby's pictures, and we both had to give our attention to choosing pictures, we will let them have electronics while out. However, we eat out quite often and never give them electronics to keep them entertained, unlike their 7 and 5 year old cousins who are handed Netflix at every family dinner out (weekly) while surrounded by grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, before, during, and after they eat. Meanwhile, ours are coloring and talking with everyone, but asking if they can watch too because it's there and they can hear it across the table.

We've roadtripped often and never with electronics, but I know kids whose parents won't even drive 10 minutes to Target without a DVD or a game. I can't imagine missing out on the singing, the radio/song requests, the crazy observations and stories that come from my backseat, but some parents can't imagine a 10 minute drive without electronic assistance.

We can't control what others do, just what we do and how we handle things. When we're eating with the cousins, we sometimes let the kids join them in the movie after they're done eating. We say no about 2/3 of the time our kids ask for iPad or phone time at home. We try to put our phones away more often. We find the balance at home.

PS. MamaR, I am on my phone, but my kids are all napping and my hubby is showering, so this is my time.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I hear you. My kid was always "left out" because we didn't have all that stuff, although he played at friends' houses and every 2 months at the barber shop while waiting for his haircut. Did a certain amount of this cause him to yearn for what he didn't have, to desire the "Forbidden Fruit"? Probably.

But was it offset by the opportunities that he did have and the experiences he enjoyed? He says "yes". He's a critical thinker, not always looking something up on the internet. He's physically active, and most importantly (if we can rate these things), he has social skills. He reads body language and social cues, he can function well in conversations (Gasp! What was I thinking??!!) and in job interviews and in professional situations.

When I see kids who have paid to go to a movie but sit on their phones, texting the person in the next seat, it makes me crazy. When I see kids on a beach or a playground using technology, it saddens me. When I see adults at dinner, each on their own phone, who then complain about "no communication" in their marriage, I'm not surprised.

50 years ago, everyone complained about TV dinners and families not talking to each other. A generation ago, everyone complained about kids with a TV in each room who never watched anything with their parents - everyone wanted to watch their own thing. And then people lamented that no one had any skills in compromise or tolerance! So in that sense, the iPads and smart phones for 8 year olds are just a continuation of the same argument. People want computers and iPads in schools, they cut music and art and, as you say, don't want to listen to the concert because "it's boring". Schools, at parents' and taxpayers' insistence on more academics, cut physical education, then they complain about an overweight generation of kids who will not have a longer life expectancy than their parents.

All I can say is, stick to your position. Kids can play "the license plate game" or low-tech "travel bingo" on car trips, they can learn to sing along to "O Susannah" and other American classics, they can talk and get along. They can run around at rest areas and campgrounds, and make other friends even if it's just for the day or the hour. They can go on nature hikes and collect rocks and bring them home to wash and paint and give to Grandma as a paperweight. They can enjoy nature and maybe have a sense of obligation to the planet they inhabit. They can play an instrument and learn to play in a band or orchestra with (gasp again!) a common goal and a sense of everyone have a role to play, whatever their skill level. They can learn to appreciate others who are differently abled and differently skilled.

Or they can retreat into themselves and spend their lives staring at a screen. They can complain that something is "too slow" because it takes 6 seconds to load instead of 2. They can learn to text and use text-speak abbreviations, and grow up unable to spell or punctuate. Then they can go on websites - Mamapedia is an example - and be completely unable to express themselves, and then another whole group of people will complain that they don't understand this post because of the spelling, grammar, abbreviations, lack of paragraphs, and so on!

So there are a lot of things we want to be different than they are - the question is, do we have the backbone to instill our own values in our kids, even if it's harder and takes longer than giving in? Do we judge our parenting by the end product rather than whether our kids think we're as cool as the parents next door who indulge every whim (from tech gadgets to expensive programs to lavish birthday parties)? Do we want our kids to be able to make choices later in life even when it means making sacrifices and realizing they can't have it all? Do we want them crushed to find out that life is hard because we spent 18 years hiding that from them?

You know where I stand, I think!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Screens of all types and sizes became the parents' go-to babysitter. Kid gets bored in the grocery store? Hand kid your smart phone! Kid gets wiggy and overly chatty on long car trips? Turn on that DVD player in the minivan and the miles just fly by for the kids and for the kid-free adults too! Toddler starting to whine? That "educational" game on your tablet will nip that in the bud --and teach little Jenny or Billy some letters, too! The kid will be so ready for preschool....

A whole generation of small children is growing up believing it is normal for them to be entertained by a screen in ANY location, at any time, in any situation. So when mommy suddenly says, "Oh, no, you can't have my phone here! We're at a wedding sitting in church!" -- that won't go down well. When daddy says, "Uh, grandma doesn't like you being on the tablet right now, we need to sit through dinner without it," who can blame junior for being crabby all the way through dinner, right?

We, the adults, are letting it happen. Encouraging it and enabling it. Good for you for sticking to your guns. Kids who are older are, I think, less likely to care about constant electronics if they don't have electronic babysitters when they're younger. My daughter is 13 and does not have a phone. We are not on Facebook and she does not have Instagram or Tumblr or anything else. She has a Nook on which she mostly reads books and plays some games, usually when we are on vacations. And she has a normal, plain old e-mail address. If she'd been raised with constant screen time she would balk at her horribly deprived existence, but she says she's great with things as they are-- because she sees friends wasting a ton of time texting about dumb stuff. And she has had friends get in trouble at school for things like Instagram use that wasn't appropriate.

But younger kids right now, who are always looking at screens, playing a game, or being babysat by electronics are not going to stand for the kind of terrible lack of technology she endures, oh no!

It probably helps that she has a lot of activities outside school that she does and that means less time to sit around the house. I wonder if those kids who now are toddlers and younger elementary age are going to be balky and resist when they get older and their parents try to entice them to try activities and the kids say they'd prefer to "hang out" because that means screen time to them.

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answers from Washington DC on

So you DO or DO NOT have video games in the house?

If the answer is NO. You've brought this on yourself. Your kids now want what "everyone" else has.

If the answer is YES. It's summer. do you have a schedule or game plan??

Our TKD dojo does NOT allow ANY personal video games during camp - heck - NEVER. They have games that they have deemed acceptable to the ages that attend the camp and even during the regular session.

I honestly don't understand the parents that forbid video games. My oldest son is 14, he's working with his dad on developing his OWN game...even a board game with his dad....this could lead to a career for him. He's been begging for a computer programming camp for the summer...what's wrong with the kids learning technology??

The more you tell your kids NO on electronics, the more they are going to be drawn to the electronics that are put in front of them. relax. give them a set time to play electronics and then have them move on to something else...

Don't forget...we've got a WHOLE LOT of parents who are absolutely scared that their little "perfect" Johnny is going to get hurt climbing a tree...might need to cut them down to prevent them from climbing them...does the playground have enough mulch (oh wait...trees had to die making that..not good...) the plastic to prevent an injury from jumping from the swing...oh wait...that's not good either...someone might get hurt...so electronics? The only thing that gets hurt are feelings! LOL!!

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answers from Denver on

It's not just the kids. I was in a long supermarket line recently when I heard a young child cry, slightly behind me in line. The child was the age where he or she could make the sound for "mama" but not old enough to use other words. And it became very obvious that the child really REALLY wanted mama. The child got more upset and sad and angry, just crying mama over and over. Finally I looked, thinking maybe it was a case of daddy doing the shopping, or a mom with several kids, or maybe it was even a child who had been left in the cart while the mom ran to get a grocery item she had forgotten, because it was very obvious that the child was not being responded to and was becoming frantic. I had heard no hushing, comforting, interacting, not even a scolding or anything. What I saw was: a baby in the supermarket car seat, strapped in, arms up reaching for mama, pleading and crying for mama, with a young-looking mother with no other children and a cart full of food. And what was mama doing? Laughing, and on her smartphone, filming the whole thing, from close up and then she'd pull the phone back a little to get the whole squirming lonely baby! I heard her say "oh this is going to be hysterical on facebook" and she was laughing like it was the funniest thing ever. She didn't stroke the child, calm the child, respond to the child, she filmed her little adorable baby pleading for a mama's comfort and care, so she'd have a cool video on her status page. I was disgusted, and it did cross my mind: was this young mother raised in an environment where real life and human interaction were replaced with an electronic screen? It seemed like her first instinct was not to interact with her child, but to get her child's distress on a screen. Of course, I have no idea if that was the case, but what is undeniable is, this child did not get his mother's love or attention in its moment of need, and in front of his face was a smartphone, not a mother's eyes and face and words and touch.

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answers from Houston on

Balance is a good thing. Common courtesy and good manners are good things. Kindness and interest in our fellow man are good things. Delayed gratification is a good thing. Self-control and developing patience are good things. Without checks and mindfulness technology seems to have an insidious way of undermining good things.

ETA - For me this is a balance issue and not a forbidden fruit issue. My stepdaughter has unlimited, unrestricted screen time at her mom's. Trust me it shows and has since the very beginning when she was about four. She has a hard time with activities that are not instant gratification and/or putting her in a passive/intake role. Partly this is her temperament but it is also a function of technology. She needs a lot of input/stimulation which technology gives unstintingly but given the opportunity and push she can find activities of her own making which satisfy her as well. In our house we tell her she can find better things to do with her time and now after a few years of this reminding she rarely needs the hints. She has found a better balance - some technology and some outside/self-motivated activities.

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answers from Boca Raton on

I agree with you very much, and am alarmed by the dominance of technology in our kids' lives now - but that horse left the barn at our house a long time ago. Even *I* am addicted to technology!

We lost power a few months ago and we were scratching our heads thinking "what now?"

It's sad! Makes me want to move to Montana and live on some acreage with no WiFi.

I don't really have any answers but I did want to congratulate you on holding the line, even a little, on this issue.

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answers from Washington DC on

We do limit our kids electronics times to a degree, but it's never a big deal. When we say enough, they get off. They read books, they do arts and crafts, they go play outside...but if they are bored inside and want to play xBox or mincraft, so be it. They are extremely active during the school year and sometimes go days without any time for TV or any electronic device, so summer is what it is - laid back, do what you want time.

They learn a lot from the things my kids do on their iPads, heck, they set mine up for me and help me when I need help - I think this shows their minds are doing what they are supposed to do, learning!

My phone is not used as a toy for my kids because they will fight over it (1 toy, 3 kids), however if one comes to work with me, they bring headphones and can watch Netflix if they want. My husband lets the kids use it more often, and if we are waiting for something to start, sure, watch/play away.

Technology is not evil and holding kids back from learing the new things is actually more damaging than beneficial. Kids use iPads in school now and my kids learn faster on them because they already know the technology. They don't have to spend the time learning how to use it before it becomes and educational tool for them.

And isn't there a higher level of self-control when they are ALLOWED to have something but opt to do something else rather than having to have something banned?

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answers from Chicago on

I love Jill K's response.

Maybe it's time to buy a handheld device and use that to your benefit. I do think it's time that you loosened up on gaming at home. Anytime you forbid a child to do or eat something, they will do it ten fold when they aren't being micromanaged by the parents, which is usually early teens.

I don't believe in letting game devices rule my children either. Some days they will play hours but then they will go several days without playing anything. My son has 2 friends that are addicted. My son won't go over there anymore because he gets tired of just playing video games. Maybe it's my kids personality, maybe it's because I don't micromanage them, who knows.

I always go back to how my husband was raised. He was not allowed to have any sugar as a child. Then when he got to be a teenager and was away from his mom, he went crazy w junk food and so did his twin sisters. To this day, even in his 40's, he has to have an overabundance of sweets every day. I can have a hot homemade plate waiting for him on the dinner table but he will eat 10 cookies before he will eat his dinner. He needs that high. BTW both his sisters have terrible eating disorders. They all blame the mom for forbidding them from eating any sugar.

I hope you find a good healthy balance.

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answers from Washington DC on

it's a tough tightrope to walk. i'm really with you, i think the world is far too interesting to miss out on, and i'm sad looking at all the kids who never immerse themselves in it. kids SHOULD be able to just sit and think and observe from time to time without a distraction, and if a kid can't get through a concert without something to distract him from an actual interesting event, i think that's a problem.
but the games ARE pretty endemic, and figuring out how to use them appropriately is probably a better strategy than just banning or eschewing.
i commend you for teaching your kids to sit, and talk, and look around, and think rather than reaching right for a device. that being said, when my kids were teens i decided to move the venue of the fight and stop being the gatekeeper. i expressed my concerns to my kids, asked them to give it real (not just reactionary) thought, and stepped aside. they're both pretty avid gamers to this day (now 27 and 23) but don't have any trouble disconnecting to live their lives, and hey! even sit around and look at the birds and chat with their old parents.
a balance is possible, but it does require some work.
:) khairete

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answers from Philadelphia on

I will have no electronic days for my triplets. That means no TV no Wii no tablets no nothing. They get thrown outside with a bottle if water and told not a to come in for one hour. They can ride bikes or scooters or shoot hoops play tag or swing and use the playhouse up on stilts.

When they're using electronics too much I won't let them bring tablets to other activities while they wait. They can bring a book. And in my house complainers get chores and if they complain about chores they get extra chores.

If their friends do nothing but play on electronics then they don't go there. And when friends come here it's an electronics free zone and I let parents know this. I tell friends to let the parents know that they can't go over to play if they're doing electronics. Other parents can do what they want but hopefully they'll catch on and join the no electronics thing.

My kids are age 9.

K. B
Mom to 5 including triplets

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answers from St. Louis on

We have a set amount of screen time in our house - that includes laptops, phones, computers and television. My daughter knows she gets X amount of time per day and if she then wants more, she can read for 20 minutes and get an additional 20 minutes. She is much more of a gamer/tv watcher than my son. However, my husband is a gamer, too, so I understand her interest. I didn't mind how much time was spent on the computer until this summer because she got to the point where she didn't want to get out of her pajamas and do anything all day. Now because she knows she has a specified time limit, she watches some in the morning and saves some for the evening. She is fine doing other things, playing coloring, etc but it's EASY to get sucked up into screen time for most people (adults included). I can't control what they do when at other's houses (as far as screen time goes) so I do not count that into their totals per day. It sounds like you aren't a big fan of screen time and if that is the case, that is fine. But kids these days ARE super involved in electronics and I agree to some point that the more you make it about "not using it or being on it", the more they will want it!

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answers from Santa Barbara on

I try my best to keep my son outside and entertained doing something else. He is obsessed with the iPad and it is a little disturbing (i do not notice this with girls as much as boys). I have not purchased any systems (Xbox for example) because I think there are other things to do. I heard other boys at the tennis camp talking about mine craft and the dad yelled at his son to get into reality and how unhealthy it is (the boy was saying herobrine was do this or that during the tennis camp, so he was in fantasy world).

Then during basketball an older sibling was playing on a phone and 3 of the kid in the practice ran over to look over his shoulder (my son included). The coach called them back right away, but it was shocking to see the leave the court. Oh, did I mention one ref was texting during the kids basketball game.

I do not agree that kids with too little time are obsessed (someone mentioned that below). There are plenty of kids who play too much and are still obsessed. I am curious if anyone's daughter is obsessed. I have not noticed this issue in girls.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Avoiding and limiting media is an uphill battle in this era. You are fighting the fight other parents are not willing to, or they don't see the dangers. I share your disgust/ disbelief. But i think if you are going to tackle screen time/ media exposure, you can expect it to be up hill all the way. You will look different. I am resolved to be a different kind of parent. I will try to do it without coming off overly judgmental. I really don't think most people are aware what all this media is doing to their kids. By taking a stand you in turn make a judgment that will step on toes. I once thanked a little boy at swim lessons for sharing his video game with my daughter, but that we did not look at those kinds of things. (It was comic book type supperheros video game and it was too grotesque and violent for us). The mother overheard me and would not barely speak to me the remainder of the session, no doubt because she felt judged. This cannot be helped. Keep up the fight. Be polite. Be educated and resolved in your vision for your kids and share your reasoning with them often. Its a very crazy time to raise children and your kids are at an age where you cannot control every exposure, so you need to share your vision to help them avoid media addiction. My mother shared her disgust in TV and soap opera watching, but as teenager we watched anyhow. But when I felt the emptiness and utter loss of real living from watching day time T.V., her wisdom rang true and I listened to her and gave up soaps. Keep educating yourself and your kids. They are listening even if at times they succumb.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Hang in there. It is so incredibly worth it.

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answers from St. Louis on

I totally understand your point of view.



answers from Seattle on

In my opinion, it's always the kids who have limited access who are fixated on the screens when they come across them. My kids do get into screen time ruts, but for the most part they can take them or leave them. Our kids have access to games, but usually are the ones outside playing for hours and could care less about video games. We are raising them to respect what video games offer. My husband and I believe that they actually are pretty good for their problem solving skills and can boost learning and limit stress. So, we don't get too hung up on gaming time. If they are too fixated, we just tell them to exit the game and go outside or do something else inside. They do have friends who come over and don't want to do anything except play video games, and I usually find out that they don't have computer/game time at home. I am not surprised that kids who have limited access would find it fascinating. It's the same way my 8 year old is fascinated by a new game or movie.

Side note, I recently heard a story of a friend who overcame a traumatic brain injury by playing video games. After I heard that and did some of my own research, I lightened up a lot. My husband is a gamer and is one of the smartest, quickest thinkers that I know. It's good for your brain. I should probably play them more, so I can keep up. ;)

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