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I have two sons ages 8 and 10. What is a reasonable amount of time for them to play there DS's, watch TV and Xbox. Those are their three favorite things to do which can take the whole day...if allowed.


Lou Longo Replied: This is easy as I see a recommendation every time I take my child to the doctor's office for a check-up or if they are not feeling well. There is a poster that talks about recommended fruit and vegetable intake, activity, etc. and one of the recommendations has to do with video games and TV. It says to limit screen time (which I interpret as non school work computer use, television, video games, hand helds, etc.) to 2 hours a day. I can tell you from experience, having 7 and 9 year old sons, this is 100 times easier said than done as like yours, they love the games and so did I as a kid. My oldest even tells me "but dad, I am developing hand-eye coordination". The good news is that there are some fantastic educational video games out there such as "Brain Age" that help with mathematics, memory and other educational areas. I recommend keeping to the 2 hours a day on the typical video games and television such as sports and adventure but add in these educational games or shows if they want to earn a bonus hour or two. What I have found both for myself as a kid when I too would play for hours even up through my college and adult years was that I even though I enjoyed the video games, what I loved even more was the competition either amongst friends or my own score. This is one of the things that drove me to play so much. Keep this in mind too and look for other things, especially outside activities or exercise to motivate your kids and put their attention towards. Good luck.
Posted On 2007-08-20 13:27:16
Jim Taylor, Ph.D. Replied: If I were philosopher-king, I would command you to throw out all of that junk. Television and video games not only offer little to nothing of value to children, but there is also considerable evidence that this technology can do substantial harm to children cognitively, emotionally, and physically (did someone say, childhood obesity!). The fact that these activities are "their favorite things to do" is more an indictment of your parenting in that you bought the stuff for them and allow them use it for what appears to be long periods of time. Of course, I don't run the world (for which I'm sure you're grateful) and I'm also a realist; you're not likely to follow my suggestion above. With that said, here are some parameters you might follow. First, using this technology should only be allowed AFTER more important things have been done, for example, homework, exercise/sports, family chores, and family time together. Second, one hour on weekdays and two hours on weekends (though still far too long in my book) would probably be okay for your sons. Third, to prevent a full-scale uprising on their part when you set limits, you might need to help them find other, more constructive ways to spend their time (kids have forgotten, or never learned, how to entertain themselves).
Posted On 2007-08-20 12:51:37
Joan MacMullen Replied: Video games, television, and computer activities are not all bad. It is the excess of these activities that brings about problems. What you are seeking for your child is balance, and learning to manage time is a skill that will benefit your child throughout his/her life. Sit down as a family to develop a daily time plan. Talk to your child about priorities and expectations, his/hers as well as yours. Factor in homework, chores, lessons, sports, and outside play. You probably will only be left with about an hour a day for technology. Schedule it in. You may want to allow some additional time on week-ends, or maybe put in some additional time when your child receives a new game or wants to see a special movie or show. Be clear about the consequences of not following the plan, and maybe add some small rewards for sticking to the guide lines (such as earning an additional few minutes of playtime). Put your plan in writing and post it in a place where it can be seen easily. Most important - stick to the plan! Model the behavior you expect by limiting your own technology time. It won't take long to see the positive results of improving time management for everyone in your household.
Posted On 2007-08-20 08:55:54
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