It occurred to me that a lot of parents hand Kindles and other handheld devices to their young children so that they can play games and perhaps do a little texting and maybe send some emails, but gaming is the main reason. It keeps the children occupied, keeps them happy, and even I would admit that gaming does improve hand-eye coordination to a degree and if strategy games are being played, it can even help with the cognitive development of children.
However, this kind of routine can have harmful effects on children in certain situations. Let me give you a hypothetical. Let’s say we have a couple of children who are between 7 and 10. These children move back and forth on a 50-50 custody arrangement. Now, if one of the parents is a screen-time all the time parent and the other parent is a zero-screen-time person, then the children might end up with a zombie-like appearance when in the custodianship of the non-screen-time parent. After all, without Minecraft or Halo to keep them occupied, whatever are the children to do when not at school or doing homework? Well, how about engaging mom and seeing if she can entertain us? After all, children MUST be entertained! Hidey-ho!
I remember when I was between 7 and 10. And I wasn’t watching television. I was out with my Matchbox cars making highways in the front lawn. And playing with a chemistry kit. And so forth. What strikes me with today’s children is an inability to entertain themselves. But then, maybe they aren’t being given the opportunity.
I am struck by this constant need for attention. And let’s face it, when you’re playing a first-person shooter game, you are the center of attention. And so, let’s reduce the screen time for our children. They don’t need it. I will say, though, that I love computer games. I’ve played Diablo and Warcraft and Lord of the Rings and I’ve enjoyed them all. But I didn’t start with my screen time until I was a teenager. Can we say that today about our children?
It has become obvious to me that there is some kind of mathematical equation that could equate the amount of screen time a child has to the amount of attention the child needs. But, that’s why this is a steal this thesis blog. I’m hoping someone will take the idea and run with it. If I could summarize the thesis to pursue, it would be: screen time equates to me time (the needy pay attention to me demeanor that is more representative of a four or five year old). Or, screen time = me time.