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To expect a playdate to mean playing not staring at a screen

(176 Posts)
PhoebeMcPeePee Wed 19-Feb-14 19:19:25

My DC were at friends for tea today for a total of 3 hours & bar a short break for tea spent the entire time playing on a DS/iPad/laptop or watching TV confused
AIBU to think if you invite a child over to play there should be at least some (if not all in the case of youngest age 4) actually playing hmm. Both now completely wired & grumpy not to mention annoyed at me because I won't let them watch some tv as agreed earlier in the day. Would it be really rude to ask a parent not to allow screen time when I drop off?

changeforthebetter Thu 27-Feb-14 07:46:57

Oh dear! We had kids round to play yesterday. The TV went on and then the Wii. It was dark, cold, wet and the kids were tired. I would be grateful someone had looked after my kids for three hours (as long as it wasn't CoD or GTA5). You sound a bit bonkers precious.

TamerB Thu 27-Feb-14 06:47:09

I really don't think that an organising mother is what children want on play dates. Mine were always successful in that no one wanted to go home at the end! I just left them to it and it depended on mood and weather, sometimes they were creative and inventive, sometimes they just went on the computer or watched TV - sometimes it was a mixture.
I can't see that it mattered- the important thing was that they sorted it out themselves - without adult interference or expectations.

mathanxiety Thu 27-Feb-14 01:15:29

We had 'Oregon Trail' and 'Monkey Island' as well as the Sims and several more - they gave us hours of family enjoyment.

Spero Thu 27-Feb-14 01:03:06

Some of the nicest times I have had with my 9 year old recently have involved games on the iPad where we have to find clues and solve mysteries. We both enjoy this - I certainly enjoy it far more than 'imaginative play' with her toys which used to be acres of teeth gritting tedium.

But some seem to have a view that screens automatically equate to mindless consumption - I think they can often provoke and sustain interaction.

mathanxiety Thu 27-Feb-14 00:43:34

I made a point of never entertaining any children including my own. I provided the wherewithal and that included a computer, games, and TV and art materials, lego, blocks, books by the thousand, craft kits, board games, bikes, skates, bats, balls, mitts, dolls, dollhouses, doll clothes, etc (lots of 'etc'). They chose what they would do. I still have most of the gorgeous beaded hair accessories DD1 made, and I wear them. I also have huge files of the artwork they all produced as well as the Boy Scout crafts DS made. And we still regale one another with chunks of Simpsons dialogue. Also the songs and plots of various children's programmes we all watched together when morning sickness made forays into the kitchen or outdoors into the small of exhaust fumes horrible.

Their outdoor options were limited in summer to the pool or the garden sprinkler thanks to the way the sun heated up the local playground equipment and because it's not fun to run around playing ballgames or even riding a bike or skating when it's unbearably humid and in the 90sF. You can't keep small children out in heat like that. In winter the playground wasn't much fun either because of serious cold, and biking and skating were out because of ice and snow and cold, and dark afternoons. Skating at the rink was expensive for a session for the number of DCs I had to pay for.

So yes, the TV and the computer are both cheap and handy and if you're paying for the heat or the AC anyway you might as well get the benefit of them. But they can also be enjoyed together and are not necessarily a matter of leaving the children to it on their own, nor are they necessarily more harmful than providing books and letting them read for hours during which they do not get exercise or interact with others.

Actually, since screen time is often shared by children, there is often more interaction between them than if someone is reading. There is a good deal of regulation of behaviour of the kind interactive play requires -- they establish rules such as no standing in front of the screen, no annoying tapping or humming or other noises, no asking questions constantly by people who can't follow the plot, no demanding a change of channel if everyone else is happy with what's on, etc. So there are social skills involved in TV watching, and also in everyone using an X Box or game console. The Wii is especially good for interactive play.

Spero Thu 27-Feb-14 00:39:53

Ignore me, I am bitter. But I do remember vast tracts of boredom as a child and how much I loved our Atari games console. I think there is a risk we can over romanticise aspects of childhood. Everything in moderation.

claraschu Wed 26-Feb-14 23:12:21

Sorry if I sounded like I was bragging. If you saw our house you definitely wouldn't admire it: believe me. We sleep on futons on the floor (these are our jumping mats), and things like large boxes and art supplies used to take over our house.

I grew up in a small fourth floor apartment in NY, without computers (obviously) or TV, and I guess I value the way we used to play 40 years ago. I do feel like children miss out on a lot because it is so easy to stick them in front of a screen.

Spero Wed 26-Feb-14 13:20:39

Well aren't you lucky, those of you with massive houses and gardens and room for all your big cardboard boxes. Like to see you coming to a play date when I lived in my Brixton flat up three flights of stairs. Going to a park meant negotiating past all the various drug dealers and alcoholics on Brixton High street and getting the bus to Brockwell Park.

So you know what? If it was cold or raining I would put a DVD on.

Just what are you advocating for children who don't live in an Old Rectory with a few acres of grounds, I.e. Nearly everyone?

Ubik1 Wed 26-Feb-14 12:22:26

I also have three children. We don't have a garden. We live in a flat (I know, by mumsnet standards they are deprived)

It's not a case of 'can't be bothered' but more about space to play indoors, especially when the weather has been this bad for so long.

But it's blue skies today so we will be visiting the park after school smile

hermionepotter Wed 26-Feb-14 09:35:52


hermionepotter Wed 26-Feb-14 09:35:41

claraschu I think one of your answers is in your post there... if you don't have a big house or a gardet certain options, such as jumping on mats hmm or hide and seek or lots of messy art are ruled out.

Also, so what if parents can't always be bothered to lay on entertainment. I disagree that it's a 'cop out' its just real life. People have other things to do.

claraschu Wed 26-Feb-14 07:39:19

This has nothing to do with "improving " activities. I guess I just know a different world from almost everyone on this thread. I have three children, and they and their friends enjoyed things like playing with cars/ construction toys/ dressing up/ making dens in and out of the house/ hide and seek/ jumping on mats/ making potions// playing with giant cardboard boxes/ playing with various art materials. Of course if the weather was ok there was a much bigger range of things to do.

Having friends over was never a time to do something on a screen when they were little (mine are 12-18 now). It was the one or two kids who spent a huge amount of time watching TV who would come over and not know what else to do and would ask to watch something.

We do have quite a bit of room (because we live in the middle of nowhere) and a fairly messy house.

I think lots of parents can't be bothered with a bit of mess, and with the occasional quarrelling, when kids play in a more unstructured way.

I do think that kids who spend a lot of time in front of a screen miss out on a lot of fun. To me, screens are like junk food: easy for parents, addictive, a bit of a cop out.

I would never comment if another family chose to play on a computer for the three hours my kids were visiting, by the way. I would just thank them for the afternoon.

TamerB Tue 25-Feb-14 22:35:29

I agree with the 'double life' bit, mathsanxiety, you see it a lot.If the parent is too controlling there are 2 ways to go, rebellion or simply finding a way around it. I find that most go for the 'devious method', they play lip service to the parent and do the opposite out of sight. The parent ends up not really knowing the child because the child shows them what they want to see and are really someone else entirely!
Children are no different from adults in that most of us want time to do nothing, vegetate in front of a screen sometimes- especially after a busy day at work or school. Imagine how irritating it would be for you to meet a friend and have someone insisting you do something constructive- children are the same!

Spero Tue 25-Feb-14 15:44:56

I agree - my daughter was learning about volume and displacement every night in the bath! I do think it is very sad that there is such heightened anxiety about children and their 'achievements'.

One doctor friend of mine said recently that children will have to chose between being 'entrepreneurs' or 'serfs' ! he was very passionate and worried that all the old 'middle class' safe careers will vanish.

Well, maybe they will. But I don't think we are going to end up with such a stark choice for our children. And I certainly don't think that watching TV or playing on iPads will doom them to a certain life style.

In my experience - fairly limited to my friends and their children I grant you - the ones who are 'rationed' their screen times are the ones who seem to have the most unhealthy relationship with iPads, iPods, Xboxes etc. They always want to be on them and complain when they are not allowed. I wouldn't want my child playing for hours and hours - but unless she is ill she doesn't sit in front of a screen for hours anyway. She does something, gets bored, goes and does something else. I only 'ration' screen time in that I don't let her watch TV or play on iPad late into the night. She seems to have sorted out her own boundaries aged 9. And there are also lots of 'physical' things she likes doing. It was collecting Moshi monster cards and now bizarrely its pictures of footballers?

Is this a 'thing' now?

mathanxiety Tue 25-Feb-14 15:31:35

Children aged 3 or 4 maybe? And they handle objects all the time -- if they eat, drink, put on their clothes and shoes, brush their teeth, play a bit with dolls (even pink ones) or blocks (even pink ones), books, markers, crayons, paper, toys in the bath, they are handling objects. Volume, quantity and mass, etc. can all be thoroughly understood once taught properly in maths class. You don't have to be absorbing basic concepts for years in order to gain a mental handle on the concepts. There are other skills and concepts to be tackled, and other foundation-laying to be done -- imo it is very important to have something in common with your peers.

It has been my observation that children of parents who are proscriptive about elements of life that other people find no harm in can become alienated from their parents and can even end up leading something of a double life once they are teens as they seek to live their lives around their parents' blind spots.

Ubik1 Tue 25-Feb-14 15:10:52

But for primary school aged children there has to be some physical handling and experience of objects so that they can understand certain concepts - volume, quantity, mass for example.

but hell they get all that at school. home is for relaxing with your pals

Aelfrith Tue 25-Feb-14 14:32:55

YY to the 'achievement madness'. I lurk a lot on the teen boards and since mine became teens I've lowered my expectations a lot! There's an unbelievable amount of pressure on children these days and the peer/media/exams pressure is intense for teenagers.

We'd help our DCs a lot if we let them really relax and have time to do nothing rather than pushing them into improving activities all the time. Which are often just to make us feel like we are being great parents offering them so many 'opportunities'.

IdRatherPlayHereWithAllTheMadM Tue 25-Feb-14 14:25:22

constant 'achievement' bullshit

Totally agree this is helicopter parenting in the extreme

Spero Tue 25-Feb-14 14:23:05

Sounds brilliant! So all information is up to date and easily accessible.

Yet I bet there will be parents reading this who don't think it's 'proper' learning because it involves a screen.

Would be fun to have Stone Age mumsnet wouldn't it? Some parents collapsing in horror because little Zod was drawing in charcoal on the cave wall instead of out chasing mammoths or other similarly healthy pursuits that may or may not involve puddles.

mathanxiety Tue 25-Feb-14 14:18:58

Spero, my DCs' textbooks have been online for three years now in all subjects except English (but the novels they are reading are all available on Kindle and often from the library, which facilitates online borrowing). In addition, the homework for the night is posted online on the school website. No need to lug heavy bags home from school. No excuses for missing homework. There are tutorials along with the maths and science books so they can refer back to any elements of a topic they didn't get.

hermionepotter Tue 25-Feb-14 14:01:41

We live in a computer age
So much angst nowadays!. What's wrong with folk confused
Entertainment is for kids parties ie once a year. not every time kids come over, like a visiting head of state
Can't be good for the kids. Just let them chill out and be normal doing mindless things sometimes like normal people rather than this constant 'achievement' bullshit.

2rebecca Tue 25-Feb-14 13:57:10

If kids were old enough to come round and play with my kids (I never did playing with parents present) then it was up to them what they did as long as the house wasn't wrecked and the noise level was reasonable. Sometimes they played dens in the woods, sometimes they played in the garden, sometimes they watched TV and sometimes played on playstation/ xbox etc.
Now they are teenagers especially for my son it is nearly all staring at screens, but they're still interacting and competing and chatting.
Any kid whose mother complained wouldn't get invited again.

TheToysAreALIVEITellThee Tue 25-Feb-14 12:41:01

When my kids go on a play date the bare minimum I expect is that they had fun. Did your kids have fun OP? Yes? Objective complete surely? confused

Spero Tue 25-Feb-14 12:17:10

Sorry hmc but some of us do get a bit forthright because the whole thing is just so bloody exasperating.

hmc Tue 25-Feb-14 11:15:51

I don't disagree with the micro managing bit (and neither do most of the posters) - it was just the errm.... forthrightness with the way you put you put your point across. It was a bit much over my morning coffee whilst only still half awake (takes me a couple of hours to get going)!

Give me a warning next time so that I can gird my loins grin

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