Karen has been under the weather the last couple of days with a high fever so I tried to do my best to fill in for her as much as possible watching our baby girl. These first two weeks we have approached the care of M with a tag team approach taking turns and working together. So, the last two days I took over while Karen tried to get as much rest as she possibly could, I was in charge of things, which basically meant not working on anything around the house and either holding our baby or being in the room while she was asleep. Needless to say I did not leave our living room for the entire day and while she was asleep watched way too much television. One of the things that I ended up watching was the top 100 video games of all time. The show itself was very interesting to me because I am a bit of a gamer, not nearly as much as I used to be, which I am sure my wife appreciates. The nostalgic level of the show was also neat because seeing some of those old games brought up a lot of childhood memories hanging out with my brother or friends playing video games for countless hours. After finishing the show it really made me think about all the time that I have “wasted” playing those games. Then I started wondering was it a waste since a lot of that time was spent hanging out with my brother or friends.
Now, let me just clarify that not all my time growing up, and when I mean growing up I am talking about through my college years, was spent sitting in front of a television with a controller in my hand. I played several sports growing up, took piano lessons during my elementary school years (not that I practiced as much as I should), loved to swim and be outside, and was decent enough at sports to play two of them in college the last being soccer. I would say that I had an active childhood, but what got me thinking about it today is how different life might have been if I would not have spent those hours in front the television and say was more active or pursued other childhood interests. The reason that I am thinking about this is that now that I have my own child what do I do if she gets into gaming, or do I not even take that chance and not even have a system in the house. I see children all the time with a video game or some sort of device in their hand more often than naught, and as a teacher my students tell me about their all night video game marathons that they have. At the same time, as more technology becomes mainstream and it seems everybody has some sort of Smartphone, tablet, or game system and at younger ages now more than ever there is the risk that if my child does not know anything about those things that she could be made fun of for not playing. Of course children can be mean, and I was not always nice, and a child can be made fun for just about anything so I am sure that I am worried about nothing. Still, where do you draw the line between how long is too long allowing a child to be on the machines?
Karen and I have talked a little bit about it, not too worried about it because we are at least a couple years away from having to make that decision. However, we need to draw up some boundaries because at times she is going to be staying with her grandparents and as of now we do not want her to be spending a whole lot of time watching television, on a computer, or playing a video game even while she is at their house. Our lone television in our home is in an armoire in our living room so we can just shut the doors and it looks like we do not even have a TV. So, I think that will help but at the same time Karen and I will have to be disciplined ourselves to turn off the television at least until we send her to bed. With obesity affecting roughly 30% of the population we want to instill good habits at a young age for our child. One of those habits that we believe is important is to keep her from sitting in front of a machine for long periods of the day.
What that means as far as how much time is yet to be determined by us but we having been discussing it a lot more lately. What do you think? Should there be a set limit or do we go to the far exteme either way and let them either watch as much as they want or none at all?