Please note: This topic is for discussions paid for by Mumsnet clients. If you'd like to have your own paid for discussion thread, please feel free to mail us at insight@mumsnet.com. If you are a start-up or student and you want to request feedback from MNers, please post in Media Requests topic.

NOW CLOSED: To DS or not to DS: Children and Gadgets in School Hols: Wii or Non? Talk to E.ON - you could win a £50 voucher

(98 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 11-Jul-12 10:11:13

We've been asked by E.ON - the energy provider, to find out your views on your child(ren) using gadgets (or not using them!) during the summer holidays.

By gadgets we are talking about games on a handheld device, like a Nintendo DS, apps on a tablet (like iPad), games or apps on your phone, on the computer/ laptop or on the Wii or Xbox.

For example....

Does your child have a set limit on gadget time a day / a week? Why is this? How long? Does this work for you and them?
What tips would you share with other parents about how to handle gadget use with children? How do you generally view use of these gadgets? What do you think are the benefits - to parents and to children? And what do you think are the disadvantages? (to parents and children)
If your child doesn't use a gadget like this please say why - it is down to you or them?
What sort of games or apps does your child play with? Do they play with other children? If so, do they socialise when on it?
Does the game ever become reality? For example - do they act out the game in real life? Do they/ you integrate the game characters into other activities eg making an Angry Birds cake or playing Skylanders in the park?


Everyone who adds a tip or story on this thread will be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 voucher for Capital Bonds - which can be spent in over 160 retailers.

Please note your tips and stories may be used by E.ON in a media release - your MN name will not be used.

thanks, MNHQ

LegoAcupuncture Fri 13-Jul-12 17:07:29

I have 3 DC, aged 3,6 and 9.

We have a Wii (given to us by Nintendo/MN TYVM), a DS, an iPad and a desktop computer. They get played on most days. I limit the time to an hour at a time, sometimes they get an extra half an hour if they have behaved well enough.

During the holidays though I encourage less time on them, more outdoor play and we try get out of the home enviroment a few times a week to parks/museums etc.

6 year old is in respite once a week in the hoidays. On that day no gadgets are used for play, I take the other two out to do something we cannot do when 6 yr old is around.

Only child who has friends over is 9 year old. He will play on the Wii with his friends, not all the time. They usually play some sort of game outside (trampoline/nerf guns/light sabres) but sometimes they do pretendto be skylanders.

Currently my DC are pretending to be Mario and Sonic at the olympics (game based) so either on the wii or outside in the garden (weather permitting).

Because the weather is expected to be bad during the summer holidays I will allow them a little bit longer on their chosen gadget as they can get bored being indorrs, and doing things in the rain costs a lot of money.

tittytittyhanghang Fri 13-Jul-12 17:38:33

Does your child have a set limit on gadget time a day / a week? Why is this? How long? Does this work for you and them?

No, he has free access to his xbox/wii/ipod. I don't limit use on any other specific toy so i see no difference with these.

What tips would you share with other parents about how to handle gadget use with children?

None really

How do you generally view use of these gadgets? What do you think are the benefits - to parents and to children? And what do you think are the disadvantages? (to parents and children)

I view them as toys, albeit slightly more expensive than his other toys.

Benefits to ds - he can speak to his friends over the xbox so keeps telephone bill down grin, can watch sky tv through it as well. Some of his games are complicated so i guess they are bit of a brain work out as well.

No real benefits for me other than keeps ds happy and it is always easy to buy him xmas/birthday presents as there is usually a game he would like. Also good to use as leverage to get ds to do his duties . Would love him to walk the dog/clean his room etc because he wants to but the reality is that walk the dog/ clean your room or no xbox is what works effectively.

If your child doesn't use a gadget like this please say why - it is down to you or them? N/a

What sort of games or apps does your child play with? Do they play with other children? If so, do they socialise when on it?

Lots of games, mainly warfare, zombie games and football games. Ds is on xbox live as is most of his friends and family so i often hearing laughing with them on it.

Does the game ever become reality? For example - do they act out the game in real life? Do they/ you integrate the game characters into other activities eg making an Angry Birds cake or playing Skylanders in the park?

Not particularly, or not that i have noticed. Ds is 11 so probably past this stage anyway.

MyNewCatIsFab Fri 13-Jul-12 17:59:30

Does your child have a set limit on gadget time a day / a week? Why is this? How long? Does this work for you and them?

I have 3xDs (16,13 & 9). We have Wii, 3x xbox ( one belongs to DH), DSs, Ipod/Iphone/Ipad. Wii and DSs are rarely used nowadays. They are mainly on the xbox online with their friends. Eldest manages his own time and always has, he didn't really start to use consoles till he was around 12 ( high school). The other two have two console free days a week. DS2 has a daily time limit otherwise he would never be off it. We have tried all sorts of strategies to help him learn how to manage the time himself but none have worked so we set a time limit and I have to monitor him. Youngest DS uses xbox more than others of the same age on here seem to, presumably because he has 2 older brothers. Mainly DH and I use the IPad.

What tips would you share with other parents about how to handle gadget use with children? How do you generally view use of these gadgets? What do you think are the benefits - to parents and to children? And what do you think are the disadvantages? (to parents and children)

I think they are a large part of life today and see nothing wrong with that but they can take over. Xbox live means they can play online with friends which can be good particularly if they cannot always meet up with their friends easily in real life. However, this is also what makes it so difficult to get them off it. If your children don't already have it I would delay getting this as long as you can.

If your child doesn't use a gadget like this please say why - it is down to you or them?

N/A

What sort of games or apps does your child play with? Do they play with other children? If so, do they socialise when on it?

Too numerous to mention and their favourites change. At the moment it's Minecraft. I have constant nagging to play games which are too old for them because their big brother or friends have it.

Does the game ever become reality? For example - do they act out the game in real life? Do they/ you integrate the game characters into other activities eg making an Angry Birds cake or playing Skylanders in the park?

Only when they were younger and they might have drawn the characters or made them out of plasticine.

HannahLI Fri 13-Jul-12 19:14:28

We don't have a limit currently on access to the iPad or iPhone however my rule is that because they are still very young I supervise them. I find that this way they are learning that games are interactive rather than something that's done on your own, and I usually sit and talk about any games that are being played. There are some great interactive educational games out there to be used on an iPad. My advice would be to get great app recommendations from friends and family, and find a free trial version of a game before you download the whole game and pay for it. Not all games are what they seem!
We have a variety of different kinds apps as well as games and my son also plays some of the games we like to play like angry birds. This is why I supervise to make sure he is only playing games that are appropriate and we created a folder for him with his apps in.
I also use the iPad for playing iplayer (also supervised). I keep slightly different games on my iPhone to iPad which are only accessed when we are out and I need quick entertainment and I find this works well.
I have never had a game become reality but that is likely to be because of the games and apps we have are more educational based.
I feel this technology is going to play a large part in our children's learning both at home and in the future at school too so ts important to me that my children have access to it. As I mentioned above I supervise usage which I feel is important.

popsypie Fri 13-Jul-12 22:00:34

Very non tech house here really. Got iPhone and laptop, but nothing else. Dds aged 7 and 6 sometimes look at photos on my iPhone or ask to play a game on it, but by sometimes I mean once every few months. I downloaded an app which was a fairground style game where you had to pick up toys with a claw and win them. They liked that, but only played it about three times.

Dd1 (age 7) is starting to Talk about "moshi monsters" as other children talk about them at school. She recognises the merchandising when we are out, but really she has no idea what they are.

Both dds are much more likely to be dressing up, playing with dolls, having tea parties, playing on swing than ever using a ds etc.

Sometimes I worry that not promoting these items will mean they are behind in ict at school, but so far it has not caused a problem. Personally I find it quite sad to be out and see kids glued to hand held games in restaurants etc. I feel they kind of kill imagination and don't allow the child to ever experience being bored. However I have never said "no you can't have a ds". It has simply never come up - the lack of interest is on their part.

twonker Fri 13-Jul-12 23:03:33

My girls discovered monster high on my iPad. They do play that they are frankie and draculaura when they are out in the garden. I think they turn into monsters if they go on it for more than half an hour, and the remedy is a day or 2 of no screen time.

garden Fri 13-Jul-12 23:27:57

My child shares a moshi monster with two classmates; they plan which day each child can go on it at home and talk about the changes they make together at school- one of the most positive ways i think of using a game- and it was their idea !

skyebluesapphire Fri 13-Jul-12 23:28:47

My DD 4 loves playing her Nursery Rhyme singing game on the Wii, or Peppa Pig. She also loves Just Dance and Dora the Explorer games. She also uses my Nintendo DS to play Peppa Pig and loves playing Professor Layton games on my mums DS (with help from my mum!). She loves watching Tom & Jerry, Team Umizoomi and Dora the Explorer.

I do limit the amount of tv time. If its not on, she tends to play make believe games with her toys, but it has its place (quiet time after preschool etc).

She loves playing games on my iphone and looking at videos of her singing and dancing and at Peppa Pig World. But Im always afraid she is going to delete something important!

She also spends a lot of time in the garden on her trampoline, swing and slide and also playing in the sand pit or water table. She loves to go to the park or playing field to run around.

My DC are fairly old in comparison to some of these posts; 14, 12 and 8.

Does your child have a set limit on gadget time a day / a week? Why is this? How long? Does this work for you and them? Not as such except generally they can't play until after lunch and it all goes off in time to set the table for dinner. Also, I have many gadgets but only one TV to connect them to, and there's three DC so they have to take turns on various things so they're limited in playing time by that.

What tips would you share with other parents about how to handle gadget use with children? How do you generally view use of these gadgets? What do you think are the benefits - to parents and to children? And what do you think are the disadvantages? (to parents and children) Gadgets are not the enemy. DC can fixate and obsess on non-electronic toys too! I have no issues with tech and gadgets, but that's because I like playing with them too.

What sort of games or apps does your child play with? Do they play with other children? If so, do they socialise when on it? DSs like playing all sorts of games, a lot of rpgs. DD likes things like Moshi Monsters on the PC or Cooking Mama on the DS. They all like playing Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds on my phone. They like playing multi-player games against each other and in the DSs case online games against their friends. They also like helping each other out, offering help and advice. Gaming has always been a social thing in our house.

Does the game ever become reality? For example - do they act out the game in real life? Do they/ you integrate the game characters into other activities eg making an Angry Birds cake or playing Skylanders in the park? DSs are a bit old for that although DS2 likes to use games/characters/plots as inspiration in his creative writing. DD on the other hand loves to turn the walk home from school into a platform game level, going from obstacle to obstacle (I have to tell her what are platforms or things to leap over or avoid)

jimswifein1964 Sat 14-Jul-12 09:13:36

They rack up time earned by good behaviour, which they use on a sunday - they can choose to use it on wii, pc or ds. the max is 1.5 hrs, unless they get a bonus for something exceptional.

They do like to play with friends, but its more like toddler parallel play than actually interacting hmm

I put my foot down re spending money on new games/getting obsessed.

oldgreyknickertest Sat 14-Jul-12 11:11:51

My Ds is older, too, 14.

Holiday time is holiday time, so I stress far less about it, though do make sure that there is non electronic activity too.

But DS is an ill child. Something that helps reduce tension in hospitals, when appointments occur in holidays and are resented more, is good.

And electronic games have been brilliant for international relations. Our French Exchange arrived and rather than the painful two or three hours of slow talk getting to know you, I put them together, said "DS, x likes electronic games", and within 5 minutes there were groans and shouts in Frenglish as they proceeded to slaughter each other virtually. In this dreadful weather they have been a god send.

serendipity1980 Sat 14-Jul-12 14:07:38

We have a quite a few gadgets in the house, I own an iPad and iPod touch, DH has an iPhone and we have a Wii and DS has a Vtech Mobigo (which keeps breaking so we are probably going to buy a Leapster instead.)
DS (4) uses iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, and before it broke the Vtech mobigo. DD (2) uses iPad, iPod touch and iPhone. We do monitor their usage, mainly download games that are educational and if they haven't been behaving, then we take away the privilege of using the gadgets. I think they are a useful entertainment tool and great for their education. We have phonic apps, shapes, counting etc and I think it really helps make learning fun. They are allowed to use them in the morning while DH and I get ready for the day, and occasionally in the day. They are particularly good for car journeys, and if you are stuck in a queue somewhere. I think they are good, if used in moderation and with supervision.

BenderBendingRodriguez Sat 14-Jul-12 14:59:21

My almost-4yo loves computer games and is surprisingly proficient at them. He is currently downstairs playing Super Mario Bros on the DS; he also likes Mario Kart and can play it without any help (ok, he always comes last but the fun is still there grin). DH has a range of kid-friendly games and apps on his iPhone for those difficult waiting around/hungry/stuck in traffic moments. DS's favourites are Pizza Vs Skeletons, Tiny Wings, Angry Birds, also a painting app that I forget the name of.

The Cbeebies website and Youtube are always popular (he likes watching videos of trains, toy trains, trains going through stations, toy train crashes...) Watching him develop mouse control was a bit of a revelation - exciting to see him realise that he had so many more options at his fingertips, scary to think of what he might potentially click on if I wasn't there to supervise.

DH has an Xbox and as a special treat at weekends they sometimes play boat racing games. Again, DS has really surprised me with his ability.

He's a bit too young to be playing computer games with other kids, but he does use the Cbeebies website at nursery alongside his friends and I believe they manage to take turns grin

I do set limits on his screen time, but in quite a loose fashion. I look at what else he has done that day, how tired he is, how tired I am (!), what else we're going to be doing, how close to bedtime/meal time/going out time it is, how his mood is after watching or playing x amount of tv/games. He also doesn't have unsupervised access to any of this stuff - he knows he has to ask before watching telly or playing any computer games, and he's usually hmm accepting of our reasons if we say no.

As for whether they ever spill over into real life, he was most pleased to get a set of Angry Birds badges in his stocking last Christmas grin He immediately allocated us a badge each and made us wear them for months...I got the pig one hmm

BenderBendingRodriguez Sat 14-Jul-12 15:01:36

Oh yes, I should also say that DS learned all his letters through watching phonics songs on Youtube blush so clearly there is educational value there. Also meant to add that while he has always enjoyed tv, my almost-1yo DD has absolutely no interest in it at all despite my best efforts in search of twenty minutes' peace.

maples Sat 14-Jul-12 19:29:36

My child is too young for gadgets but I will let him have them for a limited time when he is old enough

My children don't have lots of gadgets, they each have a DS and my 10 year old has my old phone for emergencies. I have a laptop that they do use. They don't have a set time, but I will be careful about how much time they spend using the laptop or DS, there is better things they could be doing with their time but I think it is okay in moderation.

They have never brought a virtual game into real life situations as far as I am aware.

steppemum Sun 15-Jul-12 01:04:15

my dcs are 9, 7 and 4.
We have TV with freeview but no skye etc
we have pc with games on, very strict on games being age appropriate. pc has parental control, so they can access internet to play CBeebies website etc, but only through parent control
9 year old has a ds

They have screen time restriction. Can put them all on in the morning from wake up (7am) til 9 am then they all go off. No more til 5pm when they can have screens until dinner is ready (about 45 mins)

(school days there is no morning screens, just 5pm)

9 year old is allowed his ds in the car ( and the other two watch over his shoulder) and if we are at someone's house eg grandparents and he is bored.
They are allowed screens at other peoples houses if their kids are using them.

There are no phone apps in our house (old phone!)

ds socialises on moshi monsters and other similar sites.

youngest sometimes uses tv characters or songs in her play, but more likely book characters.

disadvantages: we really notice that ds behaviour changes when he has too much computer time. He gets more angry and aggressive. Turning off the computer is an issue, it is like he cannot turn it off himself, slightly addictive. Same with his ds. He would play his ds or computer for hours each day if we didn't restrict

top tip: we have a set time for screens. That cuts the arguments enormously, because they know the answer is no, and they are used to finding other things to do all day long. (we do occasionally relax it, when we are having a slob day when it is really raining or something)

trice Sun 15-Jul-12 08:38:01

Ds is 10. He would spend all day on the laptop and ps3 given his own way. We make him get up and move every hour to keep his body functioning. I don't think it is bad for him. At his age I did nothing but read. At least he is interacting with friends.

Dd likes netflix kids on the ipod. She did used to like youtube but kept watching unsuitable stuff so we had to block it. Too many nightmares.

I have all sorts of educational games on phones and ipods but neither child will play unless forced. They both love designing levels in little big planet though which are very impressive.

becstarsky Sun 15-Jul-12 10:42:34

Our son is 6yo. He is allowed 30 mins per day on his DS 5 days per week usually (so 2 days where he isn't allowed computer games). The reason we limit DS as we notice a change in his behaviour when he plays it for a long time - he gets a bit hyperactive and overtired at the same time. He gets travel sick if he plays on it in the car so he isn't allowed it then. We don't have a Wii or Playstation but I expect that will happen one day when he's older. We remove TV and DS privileges for bad behaviour.

He also does 'Mathletics' on the computer for about 20 minutes four times a week. It has built his mental arithmetic and confidence with maths.

Every now and then we have an 'unplugged' week for the whole family - no TV, no DS, no internet for everyone including DH and I - usually about twice a year. I find this really helpful. It's modelling for DS that we are capable of living without gadgets ourselves, and 'walking the talk'. It helps us to notice just how much time we've spent on these things, and makes us go and do something different. We often have some good conversations during that week. I wouldn't want to do it all the time - we're not Amish, we live in the modern world and want to participate in it. But there's a difference between participating and being dependent.

The benefits - our kids are going to grow up in a world filled with technology and there's nothing wrong with them embracing the world as it is. A lot of the jobs people do today (e.g. games designer) didn't exist, or not to the same degree, when we were their age and in trying to push them to live as we did we might be limiting their future. My parents were always telling me that I watched too much TV. Now I work in television and have been told off by bosses for not watching enough of it! Sometimes a DS is really useful e.g. when I needed to go to the dentist for a wisdom tooth extraction and no one was available to look after my son - he sat in the corner, put his headphones in and was oblivious (I didn't need gas or general anaesthetic so was aware of him the whole time). But I think it's important to have time away from gadgets - it can be quite obsessive and unhealthy in excess.

When we go camping we don't take his DS or the laptop or any other gadgets. DS occasionally moans about missing it, then he goes and makes a bunch of friends and runs around enjoying himself. I like to see that - social skills have to be practised to be built and I don't think games are very good for social skills, even where they are multiplayer.

Games don't come into real life at the moment - his games are more based on TV or film characters. But then his favourite DS games (e.g. Lego Star Wars, Harry Potter) are an extension of movies he likes.

sphil Sun 15-Jul-12 12:30:31

Ds1 is 11, Ds2 9 (he has autism and severe learning difficulties. We have a PC, a Wii and an iPad, which was bought for Ds2 as an educational and communication aid but tends to be used by the whole family blush. Ds1 has an old DS, Dhs old iphone for games only and a laptop which he has just got for his birthday and in preparation for secondary school ( he is dyspraxic, so finds it easier to type work).

This is a timely thread for us as we are going to have a radical overhaul of screen use over the summer. Will write what happens now, even though I'm aware it sounds pretty awful.

At the moment: DS1 has unlimited time, though he is fairly good at recognising when he's been staring at a screen for too long. He used to have a limit of 1 hour per weekday and 2 at weekends, but we've let it lapse, though we still have a no computer after dinner rule. At the moment he is playing Minecraft, Dark Spore and watching endless YouTube clips that are circulating his class - 'I like Trains' etc. DS2 is a real problem, as he is obsessed with Youtube clips, which he will watch constantly if allowed. He is very adept on the computer ( way above his other skills) and it is one of the very few things he can do without adult help. We go out a lot at weekends, mainly because it's a way of getting DS2 away from the screen. But even so, he's on it far too much, all the time we are doing household stuff to be honest. It increases his 'stimming' ( autistic repetitive behaviours) and its a constant source of guilt. We also had a chat with DS1 the other night about the need to cut down once he starts secondary school, with more homework. He recognises this himself and wants to set himself time periods when he is and isn't allowed to play.

So - our plan over the summer holidays (we're both teachers, so have the whole time off) is to remove the PC from the living room and work out a timetable whereby one of us is playing with DS2 while the other does jobs etc. Ds2 will have times when he is allowed the iPad and we'll set up a menu of his beloved Youtube clips on there. It will be hell at the start, as it goes against everything Ds2 is used to, but worth it - I hope. DS1 will have his allotted time periods ( I like the fact that he's working it out himself). Its also important for him as a social tool - he doesnt have an Xbox and many of his friends do, so the chance to play interactive games on the laptop is important to him - he has made a whole new circle of friends recently through this, and I would much rather he played it than the Xbox shooter games.

Phew - even if I don't win it was worth it to get that off my chestgrin

SoupDragon Sun 15-Jul-12 12:36:44

TBH, I'm not sure my children and/or I would survive the school holidays without gadgets.

Especially given the "summer" we are having.

SittingBull Sun 15-Jul-12 13:24:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

flamingtoaster Sun 15-Jul-12 13:36:54

My children are now older. My best tips are:

When they were young I limited time on gadgets with the oven timer - when it went off they had a further five minutes (again using oven timer) to get to a "safe" place on their game and save the game (this avoids arguments and frustration). No internet accessing gadgets in their rooms ever - and no handhelds in bedrooms at night.

One of the major advantages of having a go at the DC's games yourself is that the DCs will think they have a cool Mum and as they get older you cannot be accused of being out of touch and not understanding about why it is vital they have another hour gameplay!

adeucalione Sun 15-Jul-12 18:47:52

My children are aged 13 and 10, and have had DS's, iPod Touch's and a Nintendo wii for several years now.

I find that the DS's and IPod's are used mainly on car journeys, and the wii is used socially when friends come round.

I limit 'screen time' to an hour a day - the TV is more likely to suck up time than their gadgets, but they're all limited to make sure that everything else they need to do gets done; homework, reading, chores, playing out with friends, piano etc. I also like the fact that this limit makes them mindful of how they use their hour - they check TV schedules rather than switching on and watching whatever is on for example.

Their gadgets are amazing to me, thinking back to my own ZX Spectrum, and are part of the world they live in - they are comfortable with the technology, use them for socialising, listening to music, reading books, taking photos, filming videos and playing games that often have an educational content, but if they want to play something fun and mindless then that's OK too, we all need down time.

They will get their computer time as usual, thirty minutes per day. They will also occasionally be allowed to spend longer times on them as I am a disabled parent and sometimes they need to have a book/dvd/DS day so that I can recover from the strain of entertaining two of them on a low budget.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now