It’s rather amusing to watch my kids labor over their Santa lists. They’ll see a commercial on TV or eye something in a catalog, then race to add their latest wish to the letter they plan to send to the North Pole. When I remind them that Santa has lots of kids to provide for, they agonize over what to leave on their list and what to eliminate. My daughter heaved a sigh last night, saying “I can’t decide. I’ll just give Santa lots to choose from.”
My son, however, is not torn in the least. His entire list is made up of video games. “How about a new scooter?” I’ll suggest, or “Hey, you know, we really need a basketball goal.” I’m pushing anything and everything that doesn’t involve animation or cool sound effects, but I’m not having much luck. Eli, I’m afraid, is a screen addict.
And now it’s my turn to sigh. I could see this coming, had heard all the warnings from experienced parents. As my kids got older, we limited time spent on the computer and we resisted even introducing the idea of video games for as long as we could. And with Emma, we were successful. She watches only a small amount of television and has never had an interest in Wii or handheld games. She’d much rather spend her free time using her imagination and being creative. We couldn’t be happier.
But her brother, he has always been drawn to “screens." Whether it be TV, computer, or phones, it really doesn’t matter. A dream day for him would be time spent bouncing from online games to Nintendo 3DS, with a little Wii and his favorite shows thrown in for good measure.
Of course, I cannot and have not allowed him to do this. In fact, I’ve had to severely limit the minutes he’s allowed to do any of those things. I very plainly explained to him that too much screen time is bad for you, and we have to balance our days with learning, exercise, imaginative play and spending time with family.
He gets it, and he dutifully goes into the backyard after school, having pretend light saber fights and scavenger hunts. But, he watches the clock, biding his time until he’s met all of my requirements so he can partake in his electronic allotment. It is quite clear where his preferences lie.
I’m hoping it will pass. But let’s be honest, today’s world is built around technology and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. We’re trying to set good examples for our kids — leaving the TVs turned off and letting them see us using free time to read or exercise. Maybe if Eli sees his parents using screens sparingly, it will somehow rub off??? One can only hope…
In the meantime, I’m hoping Santa will find the coolest scooter a boy can have.
Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in 2010. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.
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