How strict should parents be about their kids being on computers/videogames?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The National Research Center for Women and Families partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics since 1999 to determine what to suggest parents as far as media exposure for their children.

In 1999 the AAP suggested that children under 2 should not have what they call "screen time" (media time). Instead, the suggestion is that parents take as many opportunities as they can to promote speaking and listening. The NRCWF expressed in their news release that this report from 1999 came basically at a bad time. The Web 2.0 and a myriad of new children programs (namely, Blues Clues, which was superbly popular for toddlers) had just hit the media and parents were somewhat oblivious to the suggestions of the AAP.

Therefore, another study was conducted in 2008 showing the effects of TV or videogames when toddlers were present. The study suggests that the media interrupted natural playtime and toddlers tended to lose focus on their game to favor listening to the sounds coming from the media equipment.

All this precludes that there is, indeed, an effect of media on children when they become exposed when they do not need to.

Therefore, what a parent is to do about children of ANY age regarding the usage of computer time is to follow the suggestions found in research:

1. Eating time, study time, and pre-resting time should be media-free. Since the studies show that the sounds and over-stimulation of media may disrupt natural processes and may have children lose focus, then have these times in the day to be about human communication rather than media communication.

2. Do not limit: Balance. Computer, TV, Talking and Sharing, sports, school, arts, bathing, eating, sleeping. All of those daily events can coexist in balance. It is easier to be a better parents by paying attention to their children's balanced lives rather than to strictly limit them. A typical child is awake for an average of 16 hours a day. Any parent with common sense and a calculator can make a great difference by deciding how to use the 8 hours of the day where the child is at home. It is all about balance.

3. Consider what could happen when parents are not involved. According to Stanford University's Dr. Mali Mann in Tech News World:

Too much technology exposure can lead to inattentiveness in the classroom setting for school-aged children. They may get diagnosed incorrectly with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or even be erroneously labeled with bipolar disorder.

Therefore, responsible adults who truly care for their children and are procreating for the right reasons, should be aware that parenting is not just giving birth, but watching closely for every aspect of quality for their children's lives. There is no other way to be a parent than to be a caring one.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This depends very much on the age of the children and the nature of what they are doing with the computers or video games.  It also depends on what else the kids are doing with their time.

For example, if kids are using the computers for benign purposes and are otherwise physically active, parents should not be worried.  If a child gets a lot of exercise during much of the day and spends a lot of time reading and doing other things that are good for them, the parents should not worry if the kids sometimes spend time on the computer playing games that are not harmful.

By contrast, some parents might really need to monitor and limit these types of “screen time” very strictly.  If a child never exercises and is getting fat, they should not be allowed to spend lots of time in front of the computer.  If they never read and are reluctant to do homework, parents need to be strict.  If kids are trying to play violent games that are inappropriate for their age, parents should be strict.

The answer to this, then, depends greatly on the specific circumstances.

zumba96 | Student

I think there should be a limit for everything. Parents should limit their kids because the more someone spends on the computer, the more it hurts their eyes. The technology is a great way in order to learn more but a lot of people become to dependent on this and soon we shall become a society only based on computers which is why I think parents should limit their kids. 

thewanderlust878 | Student

This is a very interesting question because until very recent years it really has not been a huge problem at all. Up until about the time that computers, the internet, and video games became widely popular, many parents restrictions on media and such were very lax, mostly because TV was the only screen time kids would get. Nowadays, it's a bit different, because many young kids are using computers, iPads, video games, etc, for numerous hours per day. 

As a gamer, I find this question difficult to answer, mostly because if I could, I would sit and play video games all day every day. I am not a parent myself, but I do know that my parents were not too happy when I spent many hours a day on the computer or my Xbox. 

In my opinion, I believe that a few hours a day for older kids is enough time on computers and video games. Unfortunately, especially for older teens such as myself, it is difficult to limit it to that number simply because of schoolwork (most of my homework nowadays is actually done online). 

Hope this helps!

ssandhu05 | Student

It really does depend on the parents themselves, since everyone has different mind and preferences. However, if we wanted to look at it closely with details and reason, parents should limit gaming to about two or three hours. The reason behind this is because of the effect of screens on the eyes. Our eyes have the tendency to not blink when staring at a screen, which causes our eyes to lack in the moisture that they would, on a normal basis, constantly receive. This can potentially lead to dry eyes. It can also lead to the child having glasses because of the strain put on the eyes when looking at a screen too long. So there should be a limit of just a few hours. 

As for computers, it depends entirely as a different subject, since it can be used for learning purposes as well. Some kids have late night papers that they have to get completed, so they have to use their eyes quite a bit. But in terms of gaming, it should be kept at the few hours limit.