I know this blog might upset some of my readers, or make them think I am being judgemental. But I am not trying to be! This is meant only as self reflection, and as a springboard for discussion! Also, please try not to judge me!
This weekend I am home alone with the children for a while while Christopher is off being famous at Paganicon. At the same time, I am caring for a friends’ child for a few days. She (let’s call her Wendy) is an intelligent and articulate 9 year old.
Yesterday, three things happened that all got me thinking. It started in the morning. We had a very busy day ahead; homeschool art classes, a meeting with our lobbyist, shopping, and errands. As I was rushing around getting everyone clean and ready, Wendy asks for a computer turn. I open the laptop and set the timer for 30 minutes, letting her and the other middle school age children play Poptropica while I feed and clean the baby. When the timer goes off, I ask them to turn it off and get ready too. “Ahhh”, they say, ” But it’s Poptropica! It’s educational. I learn so much!” “No it’s not!” I fume. Anyway, time to go.
As we are driving to art class I become lost. The drive lasts an unexpected hour. On the edge of town we drive past Taco Bell. ” Mom, pppllllleeeeaaassssse can we have bean burritos? Please?” I tell them no, we’ve just had lunch and you only think your hungry because you’re bored. “They’re healthy!” they exclaim. I don’t respond. We stop at Taco Bell maybe once a month for 69 cent bean burritos, usually when we are running errands in town and I have forgotten to pack lunches. And because they are vegetarian (?), cheap, and right by art class. There is a McDonald’s across from Taco Bell. Wendy chimes in that she likes snack wraps. And they are healthy. Now I argue, no way. What are they? Wheat tortilla, meat, lettuce. I ask how she knows it’s a “wheat” tortilla. Well, the tortilla has brown speckles. I am about to argue when my 10 year old compares it to the bean burritos tortilla. Hmmmm.
We make it to class without snacks. It’s a great quilling class (more tomorrow…) that lasts 2 hours. (No one is hungry, by the way.)
Then it is time to meet with our homeschool lobbyist. What a fantastic woman! We discuss the obnoxious changes our homeschool assistance program has suffered this year. Instead of field trips, curriculum and science classes, some students (meaning not mine) got to borrow NEW iPads! Fancy schmancy! But NOT educational I exclaim!
WHOAAAA!!! the moms cry out. These iPads ARE super educational.
Are you fracking kidding me?
These are women I respect. Don’t tell me they believe these are good for kids. One mom says “My daughter goes in her room and plays educational spelling games.” No she doesn’t. She logs onto her secret facebook account. Duh! Another mom tells me that computer skills are necessary for today’s modern world. I agree in principle, but you need to supervise all computer use in your home. And computers are NOT difficult to use. I recently attended a conference with Eugene Schwartz, who says using a computer is about as difficult as using a microwave. My 18 month old can turn on a computer and control a mouse. Macintosh works diligently to make it so! All an iPad is is a fancy toy that your pre-teen plays with in her room and gives you a chance to clean the kitchen in a quiet atmosphere.
You and I KNOW that iPads, Poptropica, and Taco Bell are NOT healthy for our children. We could say ” Well, I need a break, so I will let you play this computer game so I can take a shower. It’s not good for you, but it’s ok in moderation.” But we don’t. We say otherwise because telling them the truth would mean telling them that we let them do unhealthy things! Ouch! What a disservice we do our children! How will they learn to make healthy choices if we can’t be honest with them?
We MUST teach our children what is healthy! Fresh air, water, vegetables, watercolor paints, books, mothers, outdoor adventures……
Here‘s a study about screen time that finds that children who spend longer than two hours in front of a computer or television screen are more likely to suffer psychological difficulties, regardless of how physically active they are. And the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees.