At The Dads Center, we've expressed repeatedly our concern for the amount of time we allow our kids to sit aimlessly in front of a screen–TV or more so, a computer–and how there really needs to be an effort to cut down on such wasted time. My house is no exception to this. In fact, even with the parental Internet shut off controller we have installed on the machines in our house, I've figured it out that one of our boys spends at least 24 hours of every week on the computer. I've taken that further–the ratio goes up even more during the summer–so of every calendar year, he is spending almost 1/3 of his life killing aliens. That's three to four months of the year just sitting in his room at the computer. And I'm sure, he's 1) not an anomaly, and 2) there are other kids spending even more time at their computers because they don't have a mom or dad in the home who will come along and aggravate the kid by demanding that they do something else for the rest of a day.
I did some searching this morning, and found an organization that's focus is on reduction of screen time for kids. Their primary focus is getting kids away from the TV, but I'd say our problem at home is more of the computer. The TV may be on in the background, but the focus is on the smaller screen in the room.
The organization is the Center for Screen-Time Awareness. If you're feeling like your family is plagued with this affliction as well, I encourage you to check out this site and give some of their alternative activities some thought. Kids are spending too much time at the computer.
As a consequence, they are far behind on how to mow yards, how to wash cars (one of my boys recently told me that instead of getting out the hose and a bucket of water, "We always just take it through a car wash.") how to explore the big field behind our house, how to build things with dad, how to interact with their friends (in person) and the list goes on and on.
This is one of my greatest concerns as a father. Sure, I'm fearful of my kids getting hurt and staying away from drugs, etc, but this to me seems to be an addiction that is just as powerful, just as negative for my kids and depriving them of the kids experiences they are supposed to be enjoying while they are young.
It's time for something significant to be done in this area. As a Mac dad, I really don't like anything that comes out of Microsoft, but here is one area where Bill Gates and I agree–even he limits the amount of screen time his kids get. Doesn't it make sense that you should, too?