“Can I put the telly on?” my youngster would ask at various times during the day.
“Doh! Can I go on the computer?”
“Not now, darling.”
“Can I play on my DS, then?” She was never one to give up easily.
It’s not that I was some kind of Hitler when we were home educating. It’s just that I felt the need to ration the kids’ ‘screen time’ otherwise they’d overdose. And with them being at home all day it was very easy to give in to it for a quiet moment.
There was a debate on The Wright Stuff this morning (I’d given in to some telly time myself!) about whether as a parent you’d rather your kids watched TV or played computer games. This was the result of a piece of research that stated kids were more creative if they played computer games.
I can be a cynic about some research. Big businesses can pay for research to come up with any kind of finding they like as long as it enhances their big business. And I didn’t rate this finding at all. So I wondered what the outcome of the discussion would be.
The panellists battled the issue about for a while before they came up with the obvious; it’s not so much about which your children do, it’s about the important fact that they do it in moderation. And even more importantly in balance with a whole host of other things that involve them in a variety of activities, from reading to running, computer games to tiddlywinks, telly to exercise.
When the kids are in the intense environment of school all day it’s no wonder they need a bit of down-time in front of a screen. We all do. When you’re home schooling it’s more tricky to keep it moderation which is why I resorted to setting a limit on ‘screen time’.
That wasn’t too bad for me; I’m not much of a screen junkie. My partner found it a bit more difficult as he enjoyed a bit of telly on his days off and the kids enjoyed grassing him up. We used to explain that since he was out most of the time working he was allowed to catch up on his screen ration. Yes – we were rationed too. We believed we should also practise whatever we asked of them. Because the biggest influence on what your children do is what you do yourself, which is a bit of a sod when you’d like to finish work and crash out in front of the telly or computer all evening.
But being parents we need to take responsibility. We should check out our own life/screen time balance.
Because it is our responsibility to moderate our behaviour so that it gives our kids the best example we possibly can. Hard work sometimes. Absolutely worth it in the end. Parenting is SO important you have to make an effort. Always. It’s no game. And there are no short cuts.
But it’s the best thing you’ll ever do. Much, much better than gaming or watching telly!