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.