Sunday, 18 July 2010

Boys and computers - How much is too much ?

I've not been feeling myself for sometime, culminating in a long stressful appointment with the doctor on Friday.  That and the prospect of a weekend alone with the twins as hubby is on shift, it seemed like the easy option just to let the boys play on the computers yesterday.  

No fighting, no whining, a computer each to play "age appropriate games", they happily played away while I pottered around not doing anything much and dabbling on my computer.  Then the "you are a bad mother " vibe kicked in.  Programmed by what ?  society ?  allowing my children to play all day on computers was a bad, very bad thing, tantamount to child abuse!  I dragged them screaming and protesting to the local park for some "quality time".  I didn't want to be there, they didn't want to go, they complained and bickered with each other most of the time (apart from when they saw the pools had at long last been filled with water)  and decided they would just take their socks and shoes off for a paddle. Needless to say we walked home a short while later soaked to the skin and shivvering. 

At home,dry and changed. Back onto the computers they went.  They were happy, I was happy I had peace and quiet. But I still can't shake the niggle that I am a poor parent for allowing it.  I wouldn't dream of telling friends or family that I let them play most of the day online (I even lied to my husband !!) so why ? why do I feel this way ?  After all, I spend most of my time online, Its my business, I shop there,  I enjoy it, I find it relaxing, amusing, informative.  I have made many new "cyber friends"  why shouldn't it be the same for my children? 

I am sure if computers had been invented when I was a child, my poor mother who juggled 3 children (one who was severely disabled ) and 3 jobs  would surely had been glad of the ? help ? distraction ?   I can actually remember sitting watching the test card (girl, scary clown and blackboard) whilst waiting for the 3 tv channels to come back on!

So why do I feel so bad ? like a poor parent ? I have wasted their weekend ?  That I should be DOING something, anything with them ......


  1. I am a firm believer in 'moderation is everything' and would quite frankly not have made it this far if my four year old son didn't have access to Sky+, home computer, iphone etc. While crafting, baking and bonding with nature has its place nothing beats a good technology session!

  2. Thank you Alethea, why do I feel like I am being such a bad mother though ?

  3. h my I am starting to wonder the same. Maxi loves the Wii and PC, infact Mini is going the same way. I dont know what is too much. I do limit the time spent on it and they dont have any screen time after 6pm (as I read somewhere that it inhibites sleep and god my two need more of that). I think that we all do our best and that in balalnce it is fine. Today we have spend the day outdoors and then doing some crafting. I said no to all requests for the wii, but tomorrow may be different.

    When you find the secret to this question, please let me in on it

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  5. TheMadHouse Thank you for your comment. I truly don't know the answer. I battle daily with what they enjoy and what I "feel" "think" is right for them. Society has changed so much and what we do with our leisure time has too. xx

  6. My 3yo plays the ds & I read recently that it should be over 10s for games consoles. So I started thinking I was a bad
    Mother but why should I who says that is right for my child. He only plays it in the morning for a short time & has learned so much. Same playing with my iPhone. I work with computers so it's my life why shouldn't it be his too. I think everything in moderation. You're a great mother xx

  7. It's easy to feel guilty about using the occasional "third parent" (tv, computer, DVD, iphone apps, etc), especially with MILs around to give you the evil eye about it. Truth is, it's not healthy (for either you or your kids) to spend every waking hour actively stimulating your children. They need their down time too, and they need the opportunity to play on their own, without all that nonsense about sharing everything at all times.

    Also, computer games aren't the same as TV. They require active involvement, and are no less valid than other sorts of games... and in fact probably more mentally stimulating. What floor puzzle automatically redesigns itself and makes itself slightly more complex every time you successfully complete it? And what playground structure remains a challenge even after you've been there every single sunny day?

    Sure, they don't involve fresh air and traditional human interaction, but some of the computer games out there are just brilliant for developing quick reaction times (hand eye coordination) and problem solving skills, and the multi-player ones are great for getting kids to understand how to work as a team. I'm all for it.

  8. Hi Mum versus kids - Thank you so much for such a positive perspective on kids and computers. Thinking about my boys they are really articulate and great at problem solving, due I am sure in part to the interactive games they play online. I feel better today but that's probably because I have just taken them to school . Your blog is great by the way xx

  9. I totally understand how you feel. As a mother of 5 children its hard to entertain them all at the same time. We have staggered computer time (1 hour each) in our house (only because we have 1 kids computer) and they are not allowed to touch my computer. My youngest is way too young (at 6 months) to go on the computer so it is divided equally between the older 4. I tend to have other activities for the younger ones while they are awaiting their turn but sometimes they are quite happy to amuse themselves (DS, phone etc. We live in a society of modern technology and most people cannot live without it as part of the daily routine. This is true for work etc, and like you said it is also an essential part of my life with work, cyber friends etc. My girls are really good at questioning things, problem solving and many other thing which we come across in every day life. I don't see computers as a bad thing just expanding our horizons. Don't feel like a bad mum because i'm sure your a fantastic mum.

  10. Your website is really good by the way and i think as aworking mum your doing a fantasic job raising your children and working

  11. Sarah - wOw! 5 Children ! Thank you for your great contribution and for your kind words. xxx

  12. I totally understand where you are coming from and often feel guilty over how much TV my two watch. But then, don't you feel guilty about everything as a Mum(?) You always feel you could do more.

    That said, my two are happy, healthy, bright, enthusiastic and fun little people (and by the sound of it, yours are too) so I (we) can't be doing too bad - can we? Sometimes you need to cook tea in peace, have a break from the noise and rescue your sanity or have some quiet time if you are unwell and then technology is a lifesaver. It's also great for the kids to unwind and can be a great learning tool. We went to the zoo a couple of weeks ago and our 5 year old was telling us things about the animals she'd picked up from Charlie and Lola that we didn't even know!

    I totally agree with Mum versus Kids about the great skills you learn from playing computer games. Kids certainly seem smarter and are obviously more techno savvy than when I was growing up. In fact it could be argued that we live in such a techno world that those without the access to PC, internet, TV, games etc would be disadvantaged.

    I think you're doing a great job and as Mums we should cut ourselves some slack now and then. Happy Mum = happy little people :-)


  13. I've just written a lengthy essay on the subject of ICT & childrens education, there are absolutely good points to allowing your children to play & hone their computing & yechnology skills. ICT is now a core subject in schools (equal to maths, english and science) .. why.. because nearly every industry in this age involves the use of technology, and that technology is generally growing and improving faster than we can keep up!
    There is definately a good balance to be sought with the amount of time they spend using technology, but do not feel guilty, if done well you are letting them learn independently, become accustomed to ict & gain skills that Will need in school & in the future! .... hope that makes you feel better xxx

  14. Hi Sara,
    Thank you for a great comment post and for your encouraging words. Really appreciate it.

  15. Hello Ruralmummy,
    Thank you for such informative comments. You should have linked to your Essay : ) As you say its the balance. We have days of balance and days of No balance !

  16. You are a great mother, I know that knowing what you have gone through, only wish I was closer to you (your home) me up in Cheshire with a busy life of a councillor, I feel sometimes you need me more than my constituents. Hang in there dear Daughter without you they would all crumble. You are absolutely amazing and your website is terrific and I am not just saying this because you are my daughter I mean it. xxxxxx

  17. Give yourself a break :-) I'm not into kids using computers much at all, we don't have any consoles or DSis or anything like that but it's really hit me now how much kids are using computers in school and that it is actually part of their education to be able to use a mouse and navigate software properly, my hubbie often lets the boys do puzzles on the iPad or iPhone and yes it does give us a few minutes blissful quiet :-) Anyway it sounds like this was a one-off for you so don't give yourself a hard time, my escape when I am exhausted or stressed out it to plop the kids in front of a movie for a while :-)



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