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The Mama’s Perspective – Are video games and other electronics friend or foe in your home?

The Mama’s Perspective – Are video games and other electronics friend or foe in your home?

Here’s your opportunity to learn more about the parenting styles of each Maturing Mama. No Mama is exactly the same in her parenting skills. This is our opportunity to highlight our differences in parenting in a means to help you find a method that works for you.

Today’s Question

Are video games and other electronics friend or foe in your home?

Chanelle

Definitely a friend… But not a best friend… Just a good friend. Like that friend I’d have over for a visit but still keep my eye on if I left them alone in a room with my kids.

I grew up watching TV daily. To the point that I sometimes get anxious when the TV is not going in the house.

TV gave me something to dream about. Gave me aspirations and ideas for stories I want to write or characters I want to play in a scene or story. Without TV I think a lot of us would have really lost it during lock downs or quarantine times.

My family also love video games over here. I’ve loved video games since I was a kid. And I still play it when I want to unwind.

As I said though I don’t put my full trust into TV and technology in general. Because they’re made by people and people can be selfish, saddestic and just gross. I mean Netflix literally has porn. The YouTube kids channels are mostly about convincing kids to desire the latest products.

I love the fact that when I need a moment, I can have the kids sit still and focus on something infront of the TV. The best times my five yr old and I have together is while playing video games. My husband and I love our movie nights together.

The entertainment industry can literally bridge the gap between cultures and teach us new things. Give us perspective on the lives of others. But again, we do have to be very careful with the information displayed.

Sharon

This is definitely a big topic, and one that I am very aware has differing views and opinions. My answer to this question is probably a confusing one, as I would say they are both a friend and foe!

Now to unpack that and somehow to make sense.

I guess the easiest way to explain what I mean by that is I think that if you can find a good balance, then it is ok to have some screen time. When the electronics become something that are very difficult to turn off, when tantrums that go on and on are caused by asking for screens to be turned off, or when the screens become the top priority in one’s life (meaning they prefer to be playing video games, watching screens, and being on electronic devices over family); then it becomes a foe.

Video games and electronics can become very frustrating if you can not get your child’s attention when needed. So how do you find a good balance? I am thinking and hoping within my family, that we can continue to establish a good routine, and as the children get older, they will have a certain time in the day where screen time is an option for them. As the children get to know the routine, they know what’s coming next.

At the moment, my children are very little. From the beginning, even though they don’t really have the concept of time, I give them a 5-minute warning or something similar. For example, when The Wiggles are on I will say “After this song we are going to turn off The Wiggles,” before taking them away from what they are doing. They then have time to save or safely put aside what they are doing until next time. At the moment, this works fairly well. Yes, I get tantrums, which is normal and I have no doubt will continue into primary and teen and beyond. However; as I talk them through, they soon calm down and settle into what’s next (for example, mealtime or going out somewhere). Also,
I’m sure I’m not the only one to say this, but sometimes, the screen allows you to stop and take a breath and possibly complete a task if needed. I see that as a positive as long as it is not always the go-to
and overused.

Interestingly in my home at the moment, my children seem to like the tv on in the background, but they rarely sit and watch it completely glued. They are off doing their own thing, exploring their toys. They are still quite little, and it gives me an opportunity to interact with them and offer a range of activities.

We are not big video gamers, but my husband does love a good classic Super Mario every now and then, and so does his niece when she comes around. My son will go and see what they are up to and is curious about it and it’s quite cute to watch. I know my husband can’t wait for when he is old enough to have a go with him and I think that will be a great thing to add to our day, in moderation of course.

Expanding a little bit on the point I made about when the screens become a top priority, my goal/aim for my family is that we can identify our children’s interests and create an environment that supports
them and that they want to be a part of. I love doing things with my family- like just sitting and playing with them, going outdoors, participating in playgroup/mothers group, catching up with
friends, etc. I try to space out the day to include a number of fun activities both indoors and outdoors, and I set the environment up as an invitation to play.

Alissa

I grew up in a home where we had 1 tv with access to only three channels. Boring sports, boring news, and more boring news! Nothing interesting ever happened on those channels for my 6 yr old palate. The Saturday morning cartoons were on a different channel and only my super cool friends had those coveted channels. What we did have was on VHS! (Google it, it’s shown next to black and white TVs and horse-drawn wagons.) We had a limited selection, think Shirley Temple, Winnie the Pooh, Anne of Green Gables, a few Disney princess movies, and VeggieTales. Due to those limitations, I’ve won numerous Disney Trivia nights and believe I can sing every song from The Little Mermaid better than Jodi Benson.

Without cable or video games, my brother and I were raised to be creative with what we had. We used our limitless imaginations and played outside or played with our toys in our rooms or the basement. We made blanket forts and put holes in the knees of our pants playing cars on the floor. Yet, as expected, the moment I wanted to play with Barbies or Polly Pockets my dear brother ditched. Sucker. Barbies are way cooler than GI Joe.

Fast forward to today’s culture of immediate gratification. Cue the orchestral sounds of whining and dragging heels and melodious repetitions of ‘I’m bored’. 

I am a full-time stay-at-home momma of 3 during a pandemic lockdown so when I need to get something done, or if they’ve earned screen time, it is ABSOLUTELY a friend and useful tool. The tough part is that they’re 8, 6, and 4 with vastly different interests and levels of comprehension. I feel like Oprah some days… ‘you get an iPad, and you get an iPad and you get an iPad!’ 

Raising kids in this generation is definitely different and is a total learning curve with 4 switchbacks without warning signs for me. But I love my spoiled babies and I long for them to have the same imagination-filled, personality-developing playtimes inside and outside. I want to be hands-on with my kids teaching them to be kind, respectful, and generous humans. One problem. We live in Alberta, Canada. Right now for the month of February, it is COLD. Like, freeze your eyeballs and nose hairs in 30 seconds cold. 

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Our current lockdowns/restrictions have been severe since before Christmas. Shopping malls and schools are open while restaurants, recreation centers, gyms, pools, and any other solace finding mom spots are closed. We are not allowed visitors in our homes, and it’s too cold to socialize outdoors. Entertainment outside of our 4 walls is a no-go, so needless to say we have 5 cases of cabin fever! I have odd ways of creating fun and if that fails there’s always Pinterest. We bake together, have daytime bubble baths in our swimsuits, my all-time favorite is moving toys to a new room or putting half of their toys in storage and swapping them out every week or so. I’ve played musical chairs with their bedrooms, in an effort to create new space for my kids.
But I’m not perfect. Amongst all this, I have a hard time finding space for me to recharge. Usually, I am outside walking, biking, running, playing with the kids at a park, or tobogganing. With our temperatures dropping below -20, we can kiss those lovely activities goodbye! 

On those days where momma is a hot mess and coffee doesn’t help, screen time is my frenemy. Gets me my quiet, and that quiet feels so stinking good that sometimes I let them go overboard. To their chagrin, I’m honestly stricter than most on what and how much I let my kids watch and absorb. Yep, I’m the mean momma on the block.
 
Mamas, Right now, until the magical unicorn of spring graces us with her presence, screen time will continue to play a larger part in our lives and I will continue to guide my kids in their use of it.

Kelly

Everyone I know thinks I’m a massive weirdo because I’d definitely say screens of all types are foe for me. I’ve had to fight with people since my kids were very firstborn to not put them in front of a screen. If my babies started to whine or cry my parents’ first instinct would be to stick something on their phones and shove it in their faces to distract them, and I could not stand it at all. I’d rather find some constructive way to engage the kids, usually with something sensory.

Don’t get me wrong, we have the TV on all day long, but it’s mostly for background noise. As far as other electronics go, I don’t have a single one in my house. We have tv, phones, and laptop for work but no tablets, no consoles, etc.

My main worry is that I’d become too complacent using the device as an easy babysitter. It’s too easy to just stick them on the tablet and crack on, but I literally spend all day every day engaging with the kids. Yeah, it’s probably made it a thousand times harder for me, and it isn’t necessarily the right way to go about it, but it is my view.

I’m not a total non-screener. There have been many times when my daughter (3) has been given a timed half hour to watch something if it was utterly impossible for me to get anything done, or if I just wanted to lie down for 10 minutes. She turns 4 in September and I am only now starting to even contemplate the thought of a kids tablet for her. Times are changing after all, and there are many educational games I can find for her, which is all it would be used for. I have many friends whose kids sit on YouTube for hours on end, and that is most definitely never happening in my house.

Jadine

Anytime this topic comes up amongst my responsible mom friends, the expected answer is always  “electronics are foe.” For me, there is sometimes the temptation to demonstrate that I am a very responsible parent who does not allow her child to use electronics, but the fact is, that is just not true. 

Electronics have the potential to be friend or foe depending on how it is used. I do allow my children to use their gadgets, and they do play video games, but I try my best to monitor what they are watching and playing. Sometimes I will sit with them when they are using their devices, keeping an eye on what they are engaged in. Sometimes, the game they play is something I work with them on. For example, I love Scrabble, and I have been teaching my nine-year-old how to play scrabble on the phone. Very educational. The subscriptions on my YouTube account are mainly children’s programs, and the good thing with that is I can see the people they follow and use them as a means to educate. 

However; I will not neglect the other aspects of their play. My son loves the outdoors, so we try to encourage that as much as possible. My daughter has gotten into the habit of reading and I am grateful for that. They also engage in experimental play, that is, examining plants, insects, animals, and their general surroundings. Then I am right there to answer their questions. 

So, I believe in a balanced and wholesome rearing of children. We can’t escape the world of technology,  especially now when our children are using this for school. But we certainly can use it in a positive way and educate our children on best practices when using technology.

Now we’d love to hear from you… 

Let us know in the comments below, Are video games and other electronics friend or foe in your home?

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