After partaking of our weekend media time, the kids almost invariably ask: What can we do? These immensely creative kids who invent games like there's no tomorrow, suddenly are lacking creativity and drive after being entertained by the bells and whistles of the Web. This doesn't surprise me. It fuels my desire to limit their exposure on those rainy, tired days when it seems OK to veg out for a bit.
We live in a media rich world, and I don't want to entirely remove my kids from those influences. Yet it's often surprising how their media knowledge makes itself known.
- After reading aloud the umpteenth 'A to Z Mystery' to my 5-year-old, I read the author's note who said he loves to get mail from his readers with story suggestions, then was rather stunned when my oldest said: 'Can't we just email him instead?'
- I was equally surprised when my oldest said to my youngest one day, 'Hey, let's go check out bottom.com!' It was a joke. The site doesn't exist, but if it did, it'd prominently feature potty-humor that appeals to grade schoolers.
- Both my kids are expert on the monkey bars, and my oldest at the hula-hoop -- two skills I wished I could master, but never did. Back in the 70s, a cousin of mine once described a visit with me and my brother as somewhat lacking: 'All they ever do is watch TV and eat cornflakes.' Ouch! Not surprising then that I never found the time or energy to hoop or monkey successfully.
- Earlier in the school year, a 5-year old kid came over for a playdate after school, but kept asking if they could watch a show. Don't get me wrong. This is a nice kid, who seemed at a total loss how to just play. Gosh, it made me sad. Is there a connection between kids having too much media exposure and schools hiring recess coaches?
- Kids need to learn the distinction between playing on the computer, vs. real work that is computer-based. When we discussed screen-free week, they wanted to know if my husband was going to be screen-free at work. That's different. And I pay the bills online, etc. But watching basketball and checking the infernal Facebook -- we as role models probably want to tone that stuff down this week. And we'd be fools if we think we can trick our kids in this regard -- as to what is real work and what is play.
What are the surprises you've found from media exposure and media limitation?