Kids and Media

posted in: Homeschooling | 1

{Originally posted in 2009}

I had a great question from a reader yesterday which read like this:

Hi, this isn’t really related to your post, but I was checking out your kids’ blog and I was wondering how much internet access you give them? How do you control that? Also, do your teenaged kids sometimes want gadgets and things that you don’t necessarily want to give them yet? I know my brother is constantly demanding some new iPod type thing or another.

I’m so glad Nicole asked this question. I think as parents we need to be very mindful of how much access to the internet and technology we allow are children just as we should be mindful of how much sugar and fat they consume and how much rest they get at night.

We don’t have TV. This is (and always has been) a conscious choice. For years if we watched a movie together, we had to huddle around our little laptop screen. A year or so ago my parents upgraded their TV and gave us their older flat screen TV. We use this as our computer monitor in the basement and when we watch movies, we can now all see the screen at the same time!

I believe strongly that too much TV, movies and video games rot little growing brains, but at the same time, watching an occasional well-chosen movie is a good learning experience. A well made movie can help you visualize some things in ways that a book never could. Since I have several children studying Marine Biology we just watched Planet Earth’s two ocean episodes and they were great. We also have occasional movie nights with snacks and it’s a fun family event. Together we have enjoyed Titanic (taking out a few choice scenes), Apollo 13, National Treasure, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Hiding Place- to name a few.

As far as video games, we have a gameboy that the children share (which is currently packed away due to too much arguing). Judah has a Nintendo DS and Boaz has gameboy, both purchased used with money they earned themselves. Chuck and I have a policy that we don’t buy video games or ipods for the children. And the children are well aware that even though they “own” the gaming device, Chuck and I are the ones to decide how much they play.

Adalia (13) is currently saving up for an ipod, a goal in which we have encouraged her. Since we only have one computer hooked up to the internet, we will be able to fully monitor the music, games and video on the ipod.

And finally, the biggie, the internet. Obviously the internet is fraught with an infinite number of harmful sites. The rules are fairly simple: none of the children ever “surf” the internet. If they need to google something, I am with them. They are allowed to visit certain sites and blogs that are bookmarked on our computer. I read every blog post before they publish it. No one is on facebook, or twitter, or any other social sites like that. Our computer is left in our dining room in plain view of everyone. We have purposely chosen not to have wireless internet. As the children get older and when we get to the point of leaving them alone, we will take the modem with us. No reason to leave the temptation behind.

That’s our basic philosophy at this point. We have an older computer in our basement on which the children use the word processing and Adalia, Judah and Tilly do their math. It has a few games but computer game time is limited to 1/2 hour and doesn’t happen every day.

If you have any more specific questions, feel free to ask.

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