AIBU with my expectations regarding time spent on computer games

(26 Posts)
Campaspe Sun 01-Sep-13 16:48:11

DD is 6, and about to go into year 2. I've been lucky up to now in that she has never been a child who watches endless TV - maybe up to an hour a day, but she's always been able to take it or leave it. She's played the odd game on CBeebies website or my phone, but nothing has held her interest for long.

However, she's recently got into an old playstation 2 that we have lying around unused. She's gone from being mostly uninterested, to spending a couple of hours every day playing on Sonic or Nemo (the only games we have). Whilst the games themselves seem pretty harmless, I can't help but think that this is too much screen time each day, and takes away time from playing, reading, mooching about in hte garden etc. I therefore broached the idea of restricting playing on the computer to 30 mins a day Monday to Friday, and an hour a day at weekends.

Now, judging by her reaction, you'd think I was doing something totally cruel, as she cried at this suggestion. This worried me even more. So, my question is:

What is an acceptable amount of time for a 6/7 year old to spend on computers each day?

Would this craze just burn out if I risked letting her have unrestricted access for a while?

AIBU to think that too much use of these games seems to make kids less able to amuse themselves and seems to lead to worse behaviour? Or am I just hopelessly old-fashioned.

Please enlighten me with how your kids use consoles, and what effects you think they have. Thanks

noblegiraffe Sun 01-Sep-13 16:54:18

30 minutes weekdays and an hour at weekends seems fine. Of course she will be upset if it has been unrestricted up till now but she will get used to it.

Unrestricted access doesn't mean she'll go off it. I'm a secondary teacher and many students seem to spend their waking hours gaming (male) or face booking etc, so getting the idea of limits now is a good thing.

redskyatnight Sun 01-Sep-13 17:25:04

Depends what else she does really.

I don't limit "screen time" during the week, but between school, homework, after school clubs, eating tea ... there isn't that much time left over. I tend to point out to the DC (who are 9 and 7) what has to be fitted into the time available and let them think about how they spend their time.

They've played a lot more over the summer holidays but we've been out/busy most days so not as though they are glued to it constantly.

Also should say that the DC tend to watch TV or play computer games - so if they are playing more on the computer/Wii they aren't watching so much TV.

steppemum Sun 01-Sep-13 17:26:03

my kids all have restricted screen time, tv and games. If I didn't ds would spend every waking minute on them. I relax the rules a bit in the holidays.

so, in our house, no screens before 5 pm, and then we eat between 5:30 and 6.

At weekends they come downstairs and stick TV on while we have a lie in It goes off at 9 and not on again til 5.

I think you limits sound just right, she will get used to them.

I find when ds has too much screen time he gets really ratty

WilsonFrickett Sun 01-Sep-13 17:30:24

I agree completely. DS8 was already restricted on his Xbox, now he has discovered minecraft and I have just told him that's going to be restricted through the week too - one hour total screen time on weeknights (up to him if he spends it on minecraft or TV).

I don't restrict at the weekend though - that doesn't mean he's on it 24/7, but we usually have things to do. So this morning he woke up, played by himself, came through when he was hungry, we had breakfast and watched one half hour TV show. We then went out for the day, and he'll minecraft between now and dinner.

Learning how to use down time is a positive thing, which is why I let him self-manage at the weekend, however through the week I am more on it.

The positive side to all this of course is I now have a bargaining tool....

McNewPants2013 Sun 01-Sep-13 17:35:21

DS has his free time and can use it how he wants.

He is 7 so once his homework, bedroom is tidy and he has had his tea he can use the computer.

It great as these things gets done quickly so he can get on the Xbox/ club penguin.

EndoplasmicReticulum Sun 01-Sep-13 17:39:16

I don't restrict. I tried, but it caused a lot of problems, it made him want it more, if you see what I mean.

We do lots of other things, and I will sometimes say "right, off screens now" if he's been on there ages. Or he can lose screen time for bad behaviour.

When I was restricting screen time he didn't ever want to do anything else, I think we have a good balance now.

This is son no. 1 (8) who loves minecraft. Son no. 2 (7) is not really interested and would rather watch a film or play with toys.

pianodoodle Sun 01-Sep-13 17:43:15

A lot of (justified) worrying goes on about screen time these days because there are sooo many options now!

I have fond memories of my spectrum and sitting for hours making daft programs with BASIC and that's why my typing speed is so good now so it isn't all bad!

Some go through phases of being into different things too it probably doesn't do as much harm as people think but I still limit the time anyway as I worry about their eyesight. So long as they still get out plenty etc...

mrspremise Sun 01-Sep-13 18:02:58

I do the same as noblegiraffe, my dcs get half an hour on school days and an hour on non-school days. For my part, in 'screen time', I include any computer stuff that isn't homework and any TV that isn't approved by me as educational/watched as a whole family group/a film.

I think at that age screen time probably should be restricted. But I will add that some game playing can have benefits, much less passive than TV.

2rebecca Sun 01-Sep-13 18:19:11

If you're into a game 30 min isn't long. I'd go for an hour 3 times a week rather than regular short bursts. She'll achieve more then and on the non computer days you don't have her whinging about going on it.

VixZenFenchell Sun 01-Sep-13 18:30:12

My 2 are 5&7. We have no recreational screen time (tv or games) during the week but they are allowed to use the computers to access the class webspace / knowledge net for homework. Weekend use is unrestricted but we're often busy / out so they fit gaming in around that. Some weekends they can have 3-4h on a game, some weekends none.

Friday night we all play a PS3 game together, which is fun and family time and screen time all in one.

My 7 year old would spend all day in minecraft quite happily if he could so if it's a slack weekend I find stuff to do to limit that!

Campaspe Sun 01-Sep-13 18:50:42

Thanks for the tips everyone. Some sort of restricting action seems to be the way forward, and how most of you manage. And all this with just a PS2! Imagine the fight I would have on my hands if she found out that there were even better consoles...

floatyflo Sun 01-Sep-13 18:52:37

I really admire those that have restrictions on tv time. Ours just seems to be on constantly, even when no-one is watching it!

I'll get up in morning and play the breakfast radio through it. Then once ds is ready for school he'll put a bit of cbeebies on before we have to leave. He is generally not too fussed by tv. More interested in sitting and playing with toys or doing an activity with me. But then dp comes in and on it goes. Then its just on all afternoon. Ds then gets bothered by it and wants to put cbeebiea on but dp wanted to watch football. It gets so petty and Id rather the darn thing wasn't on at all!

Id like to turn it back into an activity rather than constantly on in the background. So have it on for certain programmes at certain times then it gets turned off. But dp won't have it I don't think. He will always be able to find some shite thing to watch.

What about 'earning' time? So, extra chores, extra homework or whatever, earns screen time.

floatyflo Sun 01-Sep-13 19:08:35

What about 'earning' time? So, extra chores, extra homework or whatever, earns screen time.

I may attempt to enforce this on dp.
Get that friggin' kitchen light fixed, then you may have half hour on FIFA

I have never restricted screen time, as long as homework and chores are done they can spend their time doing whatever they want. My DD is now 16 and has no interest in games but will spend ages on Facebook talking to her friends. My DS is 19 he will sometimes spend a whole weekend playing a game that is new but can take it or leave it. I spend my free time on the internet, watching tv or reading a book, they can do the same if they want to , I don't understand this panic about screens as long as they do things does it really mater?

iklboo Sun 01-Sep-13 19:25:47

Tiny hijack - what age for a tv in their room? I got my (humongous black & white portable) tv when I was 10. DS will be 8 in November. I'm thinking 'never', but DH is a bit more lenient grin.

EndoplasmicReticulum Sun 01-Sep-13 19:30:14

Iklboo I'm inclined to go towards the "never". All our screens are downstairs, we don't have a TV in our bedroom so don't really see the need for boys to have one in theirs.

mine had tv in there room from very young, about 4 I think but was not hooked up to Ariel just for dvd's when they were sick or I had had enough of Disney dvds. they both have tv in their room now as teenagers but normally they are in the lounge annoying me with E4 American rubbish.

2rebecca Sun 01-Sep-13 19:37:21

My 16 year old plays minecraft and that's quite creative. There's lots of building and designing involved, not just killing the baddies. I don't mind him spending time on minecraft if he's done his homework and some of the buildings he's designed are impressive. He plays alot of sport as well so no danger of his legs falling off through disuse.

iklboo Sun 01-Sep-13 21:33:00

We don't have a tv in our room either. DS has a portable DVD player, but he knows it's limited to max 30 mins a night before lights out. Although on rainy afternoons he likes to make a 'cinema' under his bed with the pillows, spare duvet & his beanbag smile.

No TV in any bedroom in our house. DH and I don't have one. DD won't either.

I think a lot really depends on the child. DD would watch a screen showing nothing but static for hours, given the chance. Other DC aren't that fussed.

2rebecca Mon 02-Sep-13 00:17:40

No-one has a TV in their room in our house. Most sleep experts think that's a bad idea and going to bed should be associated with going to sleep. We just have one TV as well, although you can watch most stuff on the computers these days so that's a bit irrelevent.
If no-one is watching the TV it's turned off.
If my husband turned the TV on and left it on all day we wouldn't be together.

JCDenton Mon 02-Sep-13 00:58:27

I'm probably a lot more liberal than most here but I'd echo the 'no hard limits' thing. Once they've done their chores/homework, their time is their own unless of course they're totally hammering it to the cost of other things. I think it's very important to learn to deny yourself an indulgence rather than always having somebody do it for you.

I am biased because if I wasn't allowed time to mess about with computers, I wouldn't have got into the career I'm in now.

NoComet Mon 02-Sep-13 01:15:18

My total computer addict, CBBies when small and SIMs for many years since. Is also the one who played with playmobil for hour and suddenly decides she's had enough of indoors and trampolines and dose gymnastics even in the snow.

My less screen addicted child is the one who moches, fairly aimlessly sometimes.

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