First of all, I have some internal conflicts about how much time he should be spending on the computer/TV/Wii. Of the three, I think TV is mostly a useless time waster and I hate having it on during the day (I never, ever turn on the TV for myself until after the boys are down and I'm doing chores or taking a break). I love Curious George, so I don't mind that being on, and there are a few other good kid programs I can tolerate, and Dean only watches PBS or videos we get from the library. It is the easiest for me to cut off. The Wii doesn't have many redeeming qualities though it does get him to move on some games. The computer, however, has tons of educational games, computer skills are super imperative to have these days, and I have no doubt that he will be a "computer guy" (in some form, be it professional or not) like his dad. He can navigate the internet incredibly well for a 3 year old. He figured out how to find angry birds by sounding out and typing in a web search. I don't think he spelled it 100% correctly, but it was close enough that he could click on the top search and it was it.
Dean has never enjoyed playing with toys. Never. He has loved learning shapes, colors, numbers and letters, and scissors, and how to read, but he never really plays with toys. By the time he was 2, he could sit and successfully use the mouse at a computer. He would much rather find someone with a phone that he can play with than play with cars or trains, etc. Once he started preschool, he learned how to play a little better, but it's still takes a lot of effort on my part.
A typical day in our house looks something like this:
- The boys wake up between 5:40-6:15 am.
- We run at 6:30 with the boys in a stroller.
- We get home around 7:30 and make breakfast; Dean is already hounding me to turn on the computer.
- I usually let him play while I clean up the kitchen and take a shower.
- I try and get out of the house every morning by 9:30-10 either running errands, going to the library, the park, beach, or pool. If I don't, his screen time is used up very quickly and then I feel like I have to entertain Dean the rest of the day.
- We usually get home around 11:30/12
- We eat lunch and I put Walter down for a nap.
- I read books to Dean and inevitable get crazy tired and start nodding off while reading the third book.
- I'm so tired by then that I let him go play the computer (even if he's out of time) and I take a 1/2 hour nap or so.
- He usually likes to save 1/2 hour of screen time for the afternoon when I'm making dinner, so I generally make him get off and I either play with him or have him help me with chores until Walt wakes up.
- Dean, Walt, and I play until about 4.
- I usually make dinner from 4-5 when I turn on TMBG's Here Come the 123's or ABC's for Walt and Dean uses his last 1/2 hour on computer. (It's really way too hot here right now for me to just send them outside to play.) We eat around 5.
- After dinner I clean up and Matt either plays with the boys inside/outside or they watch him play his computer games. When that runs out steam, Dean usually wants to get back on the computer.
- We get them ready for bed a little before 7, we read books and whatnot and have them in bed with the lights out between 7:15-7:30 most nights. Some times it's 8, but I don't like those nights because it really only buys me about 15 min. in the morning, if that.
I feel like it's a constant battle of trying to limit the time. If I don't have something concrete, he naturally gravitates back to my computer and I either give in or force him off again. Then you add in friend time and it seems as though most play dates at other kids' homes result in playing wii. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but what I want to know is, if you limit screen time, what do your kids do during the day? Do they mostly play on their own, or do they require a lot of individual time with you? Do you have lots of structured activities? Was it different with your first child than your subsequent children? It bothers me sometimes how much he's on, but I'm also wondering what more/differently I need or could do. Even at the library now they have computers in the kids' section and that's all Dean wants to do while there. It's a library! Aren't we trying to get kids to step away from computers and look at a book for heaven's sake? I have to admit, I let him play while I choose books most days because it then means I only have to wrangle one child while filling my bag.
It's so foreign to me because I didn't ever really play nintendo or atari, or the computer growing up. There were periods in my life where we had no cable. But I was also the 6th child, so I had a lot of siblings to watch, play with, and copy. I read and played the piano a lot, but I don't have many memories of being pre-literate. And then there's Matt. It's hard for me to say to my kids, "It's not good for you to sit on the computer all day" because that is what Matt does the vast majority of his day every day. Blah. I just don't have the answer on this.