Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Tech Conundrum

I worry about computers. More specifically I worry about their impact on our lives - and I have been thinking about this a lot lately, because my 4yo has begun to take a strong interest in our computer. He wants to play on it, and I don't mind if he does occasionally.

When I let him play a game I set the kitchen timer on the desk and turn it to 20 minutes. He doesn't need to stare at a computer screen any longer than that! The problem is that he cannot accept that he has to switch it off after a short time - there are always floods of tears.

Now, I am a realist and I know that the days of kids playing with billycarts and dominoes is long gone. Today's children live in a world ruled by technology and, sure, they need to be familiar with it. I bet most kids in any kindergarten class (assuming they live in a relatively affluent area) know how to handle a mouse.

But how much is enough? How much do you think a 4yo ought to be allowed to use a computer?

All I know is that I have gone to great lengths to ensure my son doesn't watch too much TV - we have at least four days a week when there is NO television and NO DVDs at all - so I wonder how much computer time I should allow? At the moment, I let him play on the computer about once every week or so. However, that is enough for him to badger me that he wants to use the computer every time I try to quickly read a blog or check an email.

And THAT is another, even more worrying issue: the way technology takes from our kids. Some of you may have read this great piece. The writer touches on an issue I think is a real conundrum: in an age of email, Facebook, blogging, eBay etc how do you keep a lid on your OWN screen time?!

It's true that if my son's back is turned or he is occupied doing something I will quickly check my emails or look at something online. I like to scan the news headlines or check this blog. (Ah yes, this blog. A nice hobby but a time suck indeed.)

The flipside of this is that the internet is GOOD! In fact, it is brilliant: it allows me to work from home, to stay in touch with people, to be informed, to feel connected. And yet ... the need to be connected really bothers me. I ain't no addict!

So. I have started 'Tech-free Tuesdays'- well, any day of the week will do - when I do not check my email, I do not read blogs, I do not do anything at all with the computer. And you know what? I like it.


Morag said...

Tech Free Tuesdays....I like it. I had to send my computer in for repair recently and it was away for a week.....I felt like my left arm had been removed.....and that annoyed me! I have really tried to limit my use since getting it back, even though it does now have working sound!

petite gourmand said...

Great post- and great idea!

I try not to spend too much time on line.
But then again it happens- especially in the winter.
I over heard Lulu telling her friend the other day that "my mommy is always writing her blog.."
first of all- how does she even know the word blog?
and secondly- no I don't.
maybe a few times a week I check other blogs or write my own- usually late at night when she is in bed though.
Hopefully some day she'll be happy I started one in the first place- who knows?

as for her screen time- I do let her go to a few websites that I think are educational.

and they buy me a bit of time while I'm cooking dinner.

M said...

I'm all for a tech free Tuesday - or week. Does wonders.

I've found that different kids have different intensity of attraction to the electronic world. My son is completely addicted. He feels connected to the technological world in all its forms. My daughter couldn't care less about it. She'll go on the computer for homework but that's about it.

With my son I have to watch his computer and electronic use - we don't have any TV, computers etc during the week except for homework. The same rule applies to my daughter but if we didn't have it she still wouldn't overuse it.

Thrifted Treasure said...

I know what you mean. blogs, email, eBay, Facebook... I try to just go online when the boys are napping and H is at preschool unless it's just checking my emails, but when we moved suburbs back in July it took a few weeks to get the internet connected and you know what? I felt FREE!! No obligation to check all these outlets of contact, the same way I felt once when my mobile was broken and it took me a couple of months to buy a new one!! On the subject of kids and TV we seem to have similar principles - I don't allow much TV but I have started doing the same as you and allowing the occasional time on the computer, H can familiarise himself with it a bit and I only allow him to do constructive things like letter games and art on it. Friends whose kids are school age say all the kids are so comuter savvy so I want him to get the hang of the mouse and all that :-)