10 December, 2012

Unplugged parenting

Today I realised again how anti-screen our parenting style is. We actively discourage our boys from spending much time watching TV, or on computers. We don't only have strict guidelines on how much time they can spend on these things every day, we have actively encouraged them over the years to develop interests that don't need to be plugged-in. And we've never bought them toys that are screen-based.

This began quite young, when we restricted TV to only one hour at a time, and only at certain times of day. That's faded out as they've become busy at school. These days they don't usually watch TV during the week and only occasionally on the weekend. As the years have gone on, internet usage has been given rules too.

But I realised today that having more than one child is definitely an advantage in this regard. When a Japanese mum of a young teenager and only child asked (in regards to the upcoming coming three weeks break from school), "What will they do, if they can't be on the internet?" I had lots of answers, but some didn't apply to her.

Our boys will be out getting exercise, playing board games with each other, and playing with their Lego, NInjago, action figures etc. They'll also be reading and perhaps doing crafty things. I'll be asking them to help me cook meals too.

Our teenager has developed a number of non-plugged in hobbies/interests including: Rubics cube, collecting dice and manipulation puzzles, learning various knots, working out (for wrestling), logic puzzles, and he is a voracious reader. He's also recently been creating an Australian version of Risk in his spare time. This boy, of his own volition, has spurned Facebook, which, I believe, is where a lot of his friends (at least the girls) are spending their time.

One of the reasons we steer the boys away from the internet and from TV is that it cripples their creativity. It also produces behaviour that isn't very helpful. A few weeks back they developed an obsession with a internet based game. Their behaviour was disrespectful and they couldn't think about anything else except getting to play that game. I banned it for a week and things improved significantly around here. That obsession has faded, thankfully.

Our guys live life at a pretty high intensity, we don't need anything that will add to that intensity. I guess every parent has to figure out what works best in their family. We've found a pretty good balance for us. We'll see how that progresses as our boys get older.


Anonymous said...

As a mum just starting out on the parenting journey, I love reading your posts about raising your boys. It's always good to get some perspecitive from someone a little further down the track. Thanks

Janet Camilleri said...

Good on you Wendy for your anti screen based toy buying policy. I really regret that we bought Mr 18 a PS1 for his 5th birthday ...

Wendy said...

Thank you both for your kind comments. We have given them DVDs, but never games and we don't own a Wii. We've rather invested our money in creative toys like Lego.

Sarah said...

Thanks Wendy! I'm thinking the same. My husband said recently he is against allowing our baby (and still when they're a toddler) to play with the laptop or with his iphone (other parents have scoffed at us though and told us we'll end up doing anything for some peace and quiet). We live on a farm so it's not like there is a lack of places to explore and play.