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Mom Defends Son Who is Always Online

computer addicts, kids and computers

Is all that screen time worth it?

The way Holly Robinson talks about the consequences of kids who spend hours and hours on computers, I almost want to push more screen time on my own children. Not less.

Her two oldest sons, who used to wake up at 5 a.m. to get in four hours of Everquest before breakfast, are poised-for-success college graduates. Her youngest son, 13, who she doesn’t even bother setting computer limits for, does a whole bunch of other amazing (computer-aided) activities and still reads the obligatory 30 minutes per evening (she admits she has to make him).

The computer time has only enhanced her sons’ learning, not detracted from it. So while Robinson’s friend is aghast at her permissiveness with the computer, Robinson writes this:

Aren’t the skills of building cities and fighting battles online — especially done in teams — worthy? And isn’t the ability to discover, sift through and analyze new information essential to survival in the digital age?

There is an infinite amount of knowledge. Why not soak it up as fast as you can, in a community of online learners, game players and musicians who come not just from your own neighborhood, but from around the world? For kids with computers, learning has no boundaries.

Of course, we all set our own limits for different types of media. It’s up to us, we’re the adults. I think, though, we should be honest with ourselves. Were the battles just too hard to fight with her youngest? Is unfettered access to the computer not just fun for him but a convenience for the parent? It’s neat to be able to interact with people from around the world, but when you’re not even interacting with people across the street — people who don’t reside in your computer — is there really something gained?

I think of all the time I (and my Gen X cohorts) spent in front of the TV and while it makes for good times singing old TV show theme songs, that was really a lot of wasted time. I wish my parents would have stopped me. Sure, her son is learning to solve Rubik’s cubes, not listening to the Gilligan’s Island theme song. But just like TV addicts of yore, he’s a passive recipient of information and images, alone and, yes, not so much in what’s left of the natural world around him.

Is that such a bad thing? Maybe not. But is it good? Probably not that either.

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Photo: howthingswork.com

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