I got a kindle for my birthday. A week early, but still very excited. Although I really only got it so that Sam and Julie could play with it, and let Jessie have her own. Because we have one for her too. Plus, there’s the added perk of having me explore the whole self-publishing thing as well, which is a whole separate blog post…
But my point is that now, we have a kindle. I have a kindle. And Sam’s better at it than I am. He’s completely in love, enraptured and mesmerized by it. He’s got this intuitive sense on how to work it, and while I know that he’s got some limited experience with it from watching his friends play with iPads, it still shocks me. He’s downloading free apps like it’s nothing (which it is, literally). He’s just completely competent. I still struggle with how to turn it on.
The problem is that over the past few months, we’ve dramatically increased the number of “electronics” we have available in the house. We had the Wii before, but didn’t bother to hook it up when we moved here two years ago. I’ve got the dorkiest cell phone in the world, the farthest you can get from a smart phone, and it’s fine for me. But about a month ago, Sam came home from school and was moping around the house complaining that we had no game system for him – all his friends had one, why didn’t we? I was mostly tuning him out, and then clued in and remembered that we had the Wii, and had Marc set up later that night. He got a couple new games for his DS system over the Christmas/Hanukkah combination – and then my aunt Aimee let us borrow her laptop. So suddenly, Sam’s gone from having one or two games on a DS that he never used to drowning in a plethora of electronics, and a happier boy you’ve never seen.
Except… when he’s not playing. It’s like kids who aren’t allowed to watch television, when it is in, they can’t look away. Because he’s lived so long with little to no electronics, suddenly having all of these options are overwhelming and awesome and amazing to him. He can’t stop himself, he’s like an addict who just.can’t.stop.himself.
I’m really kind of perplexed by the whole gaming thing. It’s obviously not all bad – because he’s going to grow up in a world dominated by electronics, and increasing his fluency with it is a good thing. And there’s vague problem solving skills he’s learning, at least according to Marc. Marc loves computer games as well, so he’s not really flustered with Sam’s newfound love. And I’m not unaware of the example we set – Marc’s default is in front of the computer. He’s not playing games, most of the time he’s reading obscure economics blogs or arguing with someone on facebook. And I’m in front of the computer a lot as well, blogging or writing or just wasting time on facebook as well (I also like to call that “building my platform”).
I’ve never really been much of one for setting arbitrary limits on electronics for the kids, namely because, other than the television, we didn’t really have any. And the television isn’t an all the time thing. We shut it off more often than not, but they watch it. Probably more than they should – but they read and play and thing and imagine and create. But now that we’ve got the bonus laptop, and the DS, and Wii and the kindle – suddenly I’m wondering what the limit should be. Should I just let him be an electronics glutton? The girls seems to be less engaged. They like webkinz and playing on-line, but neither one likes the Wii, and I really think Julie only likes the DS and the kindle games because she’s mirroring her older brother.
Do you have electronics limits? Where do you draw the line on how much is too much?