This topic is for paid for discussions. Please mail us at insight@mumsnet.com if you'd like to know more about how they work.

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

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 18-Jul-12 18:48:53

Thanks for all your comments on this thread. Am pleased to say mumnosbest is the winner of the £50 Capital Bonds voucher. Well done.

TheRhubarb Wed 18-Jul-12 10:26:11

14 months old!

I see it this way, what is more likely to get them top marks at school and land them a good job? Is it their skills at Mario Karts? Or the fact that they can shoot zombies with precise accuracy? Or how about the ease with which they are able to download apps?

Some computers can be used for learning but children spend so much time playing games and honing their computer gaming skills that any other skill goes out of the window. So in another 15 years you'll find people leaving school with no real concept of the outside world, no worthwhile work skills, no communication skills and hardly any imagination.

I've seen it happen with my nephew who is jobless and stays at home all day playing computer games. He has no common sense, is unable to make decisions and finds it difficult to communicate with people. Once you see that happen to someone you realise just what a waste it is.

But then I suppose that it eliminates competition when they all leave school grin

economymode Wed 18-Jul-12 08:14:29

My 14 month old is no longer allowed to play with my phone (after he threw it on the floor, stood on it and broke the screen). However, when he's older I suspect there will be apps on there just for him to hold his attention for a bit. We don't have a tablet computer at present, but are thinking of getting one in the next year or so, and again, we will probably download apps.

His dad is a big Wii fan and we have already had disagreements about the kind of games he will be allowed to play - my husband doesn't really seem to see the difference between a game in your imagination, like cowboys and Indians, and violent computer games where the images are in front of your eyes for real. That is something we will have to reach a compromise on, I'm sure.

I do let him play something called 'kneebouncers' on my laptop - it's a website where there are loads of games that just require keyboard bashing. This entertains him for a while.

I think it's really difficult to keep kids away from gadgets, since they are no so ubiquitous and they really want to have what mummy and daddy are holding. Realistically, I think our son will be very into gadgets at a young age.

CheeryCherry Wed 18-Jul-12 06:43:47

My teen DS spends time on his ipod and ps3, both of which he shares with the rest of us, as he is around and about when he uses either. He self limits his time, pops on and off, but is chatting to us at the same time - he multi tasks which is a great skill! I guess a tip for younger children to prevent king spells on their gadgets would be to seem interested, so that they keep talking to you about it, and continue sharing their excitement! Also we have the Wii and ps3 set up downstairs so that others join in, and they are more likely to be distracted and spend shorter periods of time on them. I think these new games/apps etc are generally fab, create quite a lot of creative thinking, and can be a fun, sociable way to pass spare time. It's not, however, a replacement for getting into the real world and doing real things.

SkipTheLightFanjango Wed 18-Jul-12 01:36:43

My dc's will be playing on the wii over the hols. I don't set any time limits, apart from how much I can cope with, and time is normally set by them ie when the first sound of wii remote on siblings head is heard grin.
My kids love the just dance games and mario cart, I am mostly unable to play with them as they hate me winning so I tend to watch and encourage the player who is trailing behind, if only to keep them from throwing a strop. With the awful weather the last holidays gave us the wii proved invaliable as a way to keep them occupied while I got on with the housework.

EllenParsons Wed 18-Jul-12 01:29:40

I think a bit of gadget use in holidays is fine as long as it does not take over, and other activities are also done. In this wet and cold summer we are having this year it is difficult to be out and about with kids all the time, so I think a bit of playing DS, ipad, computer games etc is a harmless way to have some fun indoors. Some games are educational and some are also active, such as wii sports, dance mat etc so I don't have a problem with that for an hour or so. I'm definitely not advocating hours in front of violent games, which I don't agree with.

lorisparkle Tue 17-Jul-12 17:22:50

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 3 DS (6,4, and 2) they don't have any gadgets as such although they occasionally use apps on my or DHs phone and DS1 has some games on his camera. They do enjoy games and activities on the computer but I limit this to every now and again.

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?

We decided that there was lots of time for DSs to play on computers and other gadgets so until they actively start asking for them then we won't buy them. Luckily this is the view of many of my friends whose children they play with so they don't have any peer pressure to own something.

I can see some advantage of having them when we are travelling in the car or visiting elderly relatives where there is not much space and they have to stay quiet.

I am not keen on encouraging too much use of games on the computer or gadget I think it encourages an 'instant reward' type mentality and does not extend physical skills or imagination.

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?

Do not know play enough games to integrate it into play and do not play with others when playing

Pinot Tue 17-Jul-12 16:24:18

frenh = french! Mais oui!

Pinot Tue 17-Jul-12 16:24:02

I've definitely found it better to use electronic games as a treat for good behaviour.

So for example, if the kids behave whilst I'm browsing in the frenh supermarkets on holidays, then they "earn" a reward of some decent square-eye game playing later on.

Win/Win smile

ohforfoxsake Tue 17-Jul-12 15:31:40

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, they have very little spare time so what they do have they can fill with this if they choose to.

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 its a problem, gadgets are very easy to 'lose' and are soon forgotten about IME. Gadgets are just a type of toy, and I accept that now - although i had trouble at first. Benefits are they are easy to remove. Disadvantages are they are harder to police - my children all have iPod touchs with maximum parental settings.

If your child doesn't use a gadget like this please say why - it is down to you or them?
Two of my children are gadget kids, love a computer game, two aren't - they would rather be kicking a ball or writing a story. I put it down to different personalities. All of them have access to the same toys/gadgets.

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? I preview and download all the apps (they need my password). To me its independent play - sometimes other children will watch but I discourage this. I've known everyone be asked to take their DS to a boys birthday party. No no no! There's a time and a place. For down time only - it doesn't constitute 'an activity'.

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? No, never have done and don't think they will.

TheRhubarb Tue 17-Jul-12 15:07:38

Our rules are simple, if they want half an hour on the Wii they have to do half an hour of 'work' first. This can be school work, tidying up or errands.

I don't like them spending all their time on gadgets.

This year they'll enrol for the summer reading challenge as usual so that should keep them occupied and I've printed out a calendar with blank days on so they can pencil in suggestions such as 'bake a cake' or 'have a picnic', this way we should have something to do every single day.

I think gadgets are fine in moderation, for example they can do Bitesize on the computer but I'd much prefer them to be using their imagination and making the most of the holidays by doing as much as possible. Preferably outdoors. And yes, they do act out games they have played which again is fine, it's all role-play isn't it? I'd prefer them to act them out than play them!

insanityscratching Tue 17-Jul-12 14:34:15

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 don't tend to ration screen time, they generally find their own happy medium, they have other things they like to do so no one thing dominates tbh.
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'd say don't ban and ration too much as then they become like forbidden fruit and far more appealing.I think there are plenty of educational benefits dd has learned so much and her IT skills are superior to mine tbh. I suppose a disadvantage would be the drop in activity levels but mine do other things besides so I don't worry too much tbh

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?

Dd loves all the Mario games as well as Nintendogs, Angry Birds. She plays with her friends both online and at home.

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?

We have made cakes and cards based on characters from games. She has mini figures and uses them to act out games as well.

rookery Tue 17-Jul-12 14:12:59

We restrict screen time: the dc have a separate 'wii night' each a week and get between 1-1.5 hours each, and they both play on a sunday morning (when they usually get about 2 hours). They both have a 3DS and this is subject to the same screen-time rules - ie none in the morning on school days, and for a time-limited period after school and never after tea.

DS1 complains sometimes that he doesn't get enough screen time and that his friends have unlimited access, but he knows that we restrict gadget time because there are loads of other forms of play that get pushed out if we don't. Left to their own devices without gadgets, DS1 will be setting out Playmobil and having lengthy battles, DS2 will be building Lego models or they'll play football, cook with me, draw, read comics...

I think the gadgets are a great addition to play but not a substitute for play itself. Gadgets can stave off boredom but I don't think that's necessarily a good thing - boredom gives rise to creativity and some of the really positive things we did as kids would never have happened if we'd had more screen time. I don't want the 3DS to be whipped out at every opportunity - the dc need time to talk, to do nothing, to get bored, just to be... no matter how hard/irritating that can be for me! Their best holiday (according to them) was when they were with their cousins and got to do loads of things outdoors - with no gadgets.

DS2 is Super Mario obsessed and writes Mario stories (he calls them 'Mario folktales'), draws pictures, builds Mario-related Lego, etc...

I think it really helps everyone to have clear expectations: we use a kitchen timer to let the dcs know that it's 5 mins till the end of screen time. They know when their 'wii night' is and look forward to it. It works for us and is a good compromise.

TheTempest Tue 17-Jul-12 12:02:26

DSD is 14 in September, DSS's 1 & 2 are 10 and 8 respectively and DD1 is 3 in Spetember. DSD is only really restricted time wise by her need to spend hours in the bathroom and whinging about how unfair everything is! We oly have Smartphones, A Galaxy tablet and a WII, so they are required to be fair to their siblings and allow everyone a turn. The baby can only really play for a short amount of time so it's fairly self limiting.

None of mine are particularly bothered though so I don't worry about it too much.

DD is 14 and has her own laptop, iPod Touch and DSi, plus we have a family Wii.

We don't set any limits on her time as such, but if she's spent an entire morning on the laptop then I'll suggest something else after lunch - swimming or a walk into town. Sometimes we'll have a really hectic day out and about and the next day is allowed to be a 'lazy day' when we hang around the house and watch films, play on the Wii and surf the internet. We do have a rule that she isn't allowed to use gadgets after 10pm, if she wakes in the night she can
quietly read or listen to music.

When she was younger we used a program on the laptop to limit her daily use and it would shut off for 15 minutes every 45 minutes for a break; we also monitored her time on the DS.

Computers are essential these days, DD needs internet access for most of her homework and can also do homework on the computer and take it into work on a memory stick. Apart from the homework, DD mostly uses her laptop for watching music on YouTube and playing DVD's, and writing stories. She also talks to her auntie and grandma in the USA using Facebook video chat.

MummyDoIt Mon 16-Jul-12 17:58:34

My kids don't have gadgets of their own but I have a DS, a laptop and a Wii and there's an old Playstation that was DH's. They are allowed to use all of those but I emphasise the fact that they are shared. They are not allowed phones or access to my phone. At 8 and 9, I think they're too young for this.

On the laptop, I have set parental controls and they are only allowed on approved sites (CBBC, Lego and so on). They are not allowed to message or contact anyone else so no social networking or anything like that. They are not allowed to use any of the gadgets in their rooms.

There are no hard and fast rules about how much time they are allowed on gadgets. They might get two or three hours one day then nothing for several days. The DS gets used more than the others because it's handy for long car journeys or waiting around anywhere. I tend to let them have longer on the Wii and Playstation if they're playing on it together. I don't like them playing on their own on them for hours on end.

Difficult to say if the games ever spill over. They have Harry Potter DS and Playstation games but have read the books and seen the films too so, when they're playing Harry Potter, they're probably more influenced by those than the games.

Bubby64 Mon 16-Jul-12 14:57:43

Oh, and I forgot to say - Chores come first - empty dishwasher, feed/walk dogs, make beds, put away washing- or NO screen time, as for the computer (not that they tend to use this so much)- they have their own log in with strict parental controls on, and also time limits for usage (very useful part of the parental controls!) The x-box is set up in out dining room, where I can easily see it, and they are allowed no handheld devices in their rooms at all, or all privileges are suspended (which stops them sneaking them up their rooms and using them at night!)

Bubby64 Mon 16-Jul-12 14:47:25

I have two 11yr olds, and they are becomming increasingly difficult to keep entertained over the holidays. Up to a year or so ago, I would say "lets go to the playgrund or park" and it would be met with an enthusiastic response, now I get "thats babyish and boring" as a response!
They now want to do things which cost money, swimming, theme parks, paid fo activities, and I just cannot afford to do these week in, week out over the holidays.We are looking forward to a skate park which is being built in the village, but that is not due to be finished until September (even later if this weather keeps up)
As for games/gadgets, my 2 tend to play "MineCraft" on the Xbox quite a lot, and they also play "Super Scibblenauts" on their DS, and both these games are very much lead by the childs own imagination. I do try to limit the time spent on these, but it is not easy, and, to be honest, I'd rather them play this sort of game than sit mindleessly in front of the gogglebox!
They also use their smart phones to search things like U Tube for music and funny videos.(good thing they have unlimited internet!) Despite their opposition, I have put parental controls on their browsers, so they cannot easily access unsuitable web contact, which gives me more peace of mind.

WhyTheBigPaws Mon 16-Jul-12 14:12:22

Funnily enough I have posted in Chat today asking for ideas of how to keep my DD occupied over the holiday so she doesn't spend the entire time in front of a screen! We don't have a Wii or anything similar but she does have a DS and access to TV and PC.

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 don't set a specific time limit but in general I like my DD to do a mixture of activities - reading/playing outside/drawing etc - as well as playing on her DS and if she's on it for too long I tend to nag encourage her to do something else

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?

My DD mainly plays Super Mario Bros because she's trying to complete it, she has managed to get the the next level with the help of a friend who shared some tips with her. If she gets together with friends eg sleepovers, they all bring their DSes and do the chat thing. I was never in favour of her having one but a kind relative bought her it and tbh I'm quite glad now as I think she'd be left out if she didn't have one.

StellaMarie Mon 16-Jul-12 11:41:29

DCs no longer have set time periods for gadgets. They are now teenagers and are more able to make sensible decisions about how they spend their time. In the past DS was restricted to 1 charge a week of the Nintendo DS and time on the Wii was granted after reading (30 mins reading = 30 mins computer time). This worked for us despite DS not liking it much!! DD has never really been into gadgets, she much prefers crafting etc
Despite the fact that they are teenagers I am very aware of what games/apps they are using. I am not a big fan of shooting things and they know that ratings are there for a reason!

Gadgets do have a place but to my mind they are too readily used for 'easy' parenting. No one likes saying no to their child but children have to learn that they can't immerse themselves in gaming to the detriment of reading, conversing, playing outside, helping with chores etc.

The worst examples I have seen recently are children playing on DS/PS3 during church (really is it that hard to learn to sit and read/listen for a short service) and another family 'entertaining' their children during a meal out by letting them watch Dora the Explorer on the iPad!! What was the point of going out for a meal as a family if no talking etc is done, would be much cheaper to have eated at home and ignored the children there!!

Frontpaw Mon 16-Jul-12 10:10:55

Ooooo what'd they say? [Nosey]

<yawn> Reported

mrtu Mon 16-Jul-12 02:31:38

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

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.

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.

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