Words worker. Digital thinker. Feminist. Mother.

Why ignorance is bliss

My almost-six-year-old daughter has asked me for a Gameboy and an X Box. I shudder each time she does. Last year, I went looking around playschools for Sam, who was two years’ old at the time. One teacher proudly showed me the computer in the playroom, where each child was allowed to spend a limited time each week. I remember wondering what the benefit of that would be? (I have to admit that, at the same time, I wondered if I was putting my children at a disadvantage by not allowing them near a computer… Oh, the joys of parenting!)

I can’t stand how comatose my children become in front of the television (at times, of course, I love how comatose they become). But the thought of them spending endless hours throwing carrots at the Were Rabbit in Wallace & Gromit’s PSP game or – shudder, shudder, shudder – taking care of a virtual toy on Webkinz. has a great piece on this by columnist Emily Bazelon, Death to Stuffed Animals!

…[T]here you are, fighting with your 8-year-old or even your 6-year-old about screen time. Or, worse, taking advantage of their preoccupation to make dinner, only to find that they’ve turned into bad-tempered, Web-addled mush.

Don’t try to console yourself with the mantra that they’re learning skills that will later serve them well in our technology-driven world. Using a mouse isn’t like learning to ski. If you ask me, there’s no need to do it from birth or even elementary school. I agree with Emily Yoffe: Watching kids go online for more than five minutes makes me want to shoo them outside. (Even if I admit Michael Agger is right that they’re just prepping for the real computer indulgences of the adult office.)

Look, Blazeon dallies with the idea of allowing her son online, but I’m not convinced she’s sold her soul (or his) to Internetting yet. As I see it, ignorance is always the best way of protecting your kids from stuff you don’t want them to nag you about. After all, they can’t ask you for something if they don’t even know about it…

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