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This was the footer to my friends email to me written on a Yahoo email account. Now, I love my gmail because it allows me to make all the words that are in my email and doesn’t put an often cheesily written ad at the bottom exclaiming the virtues of shopping online. But I noticed this footer, clicked through and am now blogging about it. Good job Yahoo for finally putting something on the footer that matters.
So, onto my diatribe… active kids…
I have seen alot of articles and commercials lately that equate a child playing computers or video games or watching tv as fat and lazy. While this is true in some cases, it’s not the fault of the computers, games and tv, it the fault of the child and the parents. Our media consumption is just that, something we consume. We should train ourselves and our children to know when enough is enough and when there has been too much.
I am on my computer from relatively minutes after I wake up until mintes before I go to asleep at night, and most of the day in between. But I have trained myself, like a good human, to also eat, bathe, exercise and converse with fellow citizens in some way in addition to my media consumption. Since I have been working from home, this has been more highlighted. When you leave the house for work or school, you inherently start moving. Hopefully you continue that movement and try to capitalize on it by riding a bike, walking to your destination or even choosing to park further away to make you walk. Maybe your job has walking involved, even if it’s climbing the stairs or walking to the printer. I don’t have to do any of that at home, so I build it into my day, because I know moving and exercise is important.
My point is, I don’t think kids are learning this in some households. Just as you have to teach them the reasoning why eating potato chips and cake all day is a bad idea (and it is, if you don’t know that), you also can’t try to scare them from said potato chips and cake all together (because they are delicious and you should eat them sometimes).
You have to teach them that moderation of their media is also something they need to watch for. Playing video games for a couple hours will not make your child fat and lazy. It will probably help your child in infinitely more ways. But if you don’t explain the reasoning to them, and just punish them from the media, you haven’t done them justice. They will rebel, as any respectable kid would, and end up playing the game more and STILL not know that there is a reason behind why gaming all the time is a bad idea.
I was a camp director at CyberCamps for a few years. I taught intro game design, Flash, 3D animation, robotics and other computer skills to rooms of 25 8-15 year olds at a time. The first day was always the most interesting for me, because their parents dropped them off with me and the kids wanted to bee-line right for the computers. Oh, the fights I would have with the bold kids who tried to reason with me that their parents paid me to have them on computers, not playing tag. The silly children didn’t understand that tag was just the format I used to introduce social skills to them. By the end of the week, they were begging me to shave time off their game design modules so they could play one more game of kick ball or cards with their new friends. Many of them who figured out my motives actually thanked me by the end of the week for making them realize that you can having computer AND non-computer activites was more fun and interesting, not the opposite.
So please stop demonizing media for lack of comprehensive parenting. Computers, video games and TV are all cool and make our lives richer and interesting. Don’t take them away or make them “bad.” Make sure your kids ALSO have non-plugged-in things that are interesting and that they learn moderation in all things, and I think you will find they will become better people all around.
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