Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Memo from Mom
To: The American Academy of Pediatrics
Re: You and your entertainment media studies
According to you, “today's children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices.” Seriously, how is this possible, especially on a school day? Our children are barely home and awake for seven hours. There is homework, sports, dinner and activities. I think you totally made up this statistic, AAP.
However, you did say that number is an average so I guess we need to factor in weekends, too. If I’m doing the math correctly, kids would need to spend about 4 hours per weekday (that equals 20 hours total) and 29 hours on Saturday and Sunday. This would give us 49 hours total for the week, divided by seven days in a week for an average of seven hours per day.
C’mon, though, twenty-nine hours on entertainment media on the weekend? That is about 15 hours per day. What child gets up at 7 a.m. and does not move from an electronic device until 10 p.m., which is past my kids’ bedtime anyway? Fine, we have to take into consideration the older kids, but they wake up later and go to bed later.
Many parents are guilty of letting a lazy day go by with our kids when we simply need them to stay in one place while we accomplish the myriad of things to do on our list. Please, AAP, cut parents some slack and lay off the extreme guilt trip. You are worse than our mothers.
As parents, we are exhausted. All week long we have worked and cleaned and cooked and driven our offsprings’ butts to practices and friends’ houses. Sometimes saying yes to watching five episodes of Spongebob followed by four hours of what my son considers the greatest video game ever created – Minecraft – is just what a parent needs in order to complete a long-overdue project or just plain think like a normal, functioning human being.
However, crazy statistics which I do not necessarily think were properly researched aside, I understand the demonic effects on a child’s brain and body when the free babysitter rears its horns. On the off chance that you have any credibility, my husband and I decided we needed to enforce some rules around this entertainment media fiasco. We knew too well that if the Betty Ford Clinic opened a Minecraft wing, our son could be first on the list if we didn’t stage our own intervention.
Our rules are pretty simple: our Minecraft addict can only use the computer, iTouch, Xbox, or watch television for one hour a day. He can earn more time by doing recreational reading or by playing. What counts as playing? Since our son enjoys sports and couldn’t care less about toys like Legos or action figures, it’s just some old-fashioned running around, drawing, writing stories, playing self-created ball games (where there is a ball, he will play) – anything that does not involve a wire, battery and/or electricity counts.
Just the other day, our little electronic junkie finished up his 60 minutes of video game/TV/computer bliss. He put down his iTouch and announced, “I’m going to read! Gotta get me some more minutes!” I beamed proudly, knowing that the detox was slowly taking effect and with any luck, we would avoid the shakes and sweats.
Do we fall off the electronics wagon on the weekends sometimes? Of course. We try the best we can to set limits. Hey, at least we don't walk around bragging that our kid "really doesn't like TV" or "only plays video games on the weekend." When parents say that, the other parents are all rolling their eyes and coughing into their hands saying, "bullpoop."