leggo my eggo

February 3, 2010 |  Category:   life

computer_bw1.jpg

I think one of the things that most people will notice when they come over to our house for any extended period of time is how respectful the girls are of our stuff. And by stuff, I’m talking computers, phones, cameras and any other piece of enticing, forbidden electronic equipment. They also don’t rummage in our bags or play with our wallets or keys. I don’t know that we consciously “trained” them to keep their distance, but given that they’re both fairly different in personality from each other, something got ingrained in them from an early age. Maybe it’s because they’re used to seeing me working on the computer all the time (judging from this photo, ya think?). At one point when Claudine was a baby (that’s her pictured here), she’d associate the opening of the laptop with nursing and would start to expect it when she saw me on the computer (let’s face it…nursing is a bonding experience and all, but after awhile and especially after the second one, it’s really boring just sitting there with a baby on your boob).

If you came to our house and saw where I keep my computer, you’d probably think I was crazy because I leave it on the couch at all times. The girls, however, will never touch it, ever. They’ll bounce around, wrestle and lay down or stretch out on the sofa, but they’ll stay clear of the side that the laptop is on. It pretty much hogs up its own permanent seat on the couch. I know what you’re thinking…um, the couch? Isn’t there a safer place to keep the computer? But the girls are generally “non-destructive” to begin with and I trust them around our stuff completely (ok, I lie. Once Claudine picked up my phone and threw it down on the rug).

Contrary to what this may sound like, the kids are really curious about computers and iphones and if we let them, would probably play with apps and video games all day long. Mia, in particular, seems to have the potential to be an addictive gamer given her keen interest in gaming consoles, computers and anything screen-based when presented with the opportunity, but despite the fact that many of her friends have a Wii and access to computer time, we’ve just held off. I know it can’t be for long and we’re not planning on being super hardball on it as the kids get older. I mean we totally grew up on Atari, the Commodore 64 and later, Nintendo (Summer Olympic Games on Atari, anyone?) and we came out ok (I think). So I’m curious, what are your thoughts on computers and kids? If your kids are using computers now, when did you let them tinker around?

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  • Nicole February 3, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    I don’t have children of my own, but I do remember playing with the Commodore 64 and all the latest and greatest gaming machines as they were released. The great thing my parents did to keep my brother and me in check was to set a time limit as to how long we could use the computer/gaming consoles each day. Of course we hated it at that age, but now that I look back, I definitely appreciate them doing that. I see so many children today that seem like they have screens permanently attached to their faces, and it drives me bonkers. Kids need to know how to play and socialize and do all of that other good ‘growing-up’ stuff.

    I commend you on how long you’ve managed to keep the girls away from that kind of stuff. But, I don’t think it’d hurt to allow them to have a little bit of time now and then.

  • Anna @ D16 February 3, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    As a non-parent, I’m going to withhold my opinions about kids and computers (and video games), but I have to say — If I did have a child, I imagine my life looking very much like that photo up there!

  • Rosie February 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    This post made me laugh as I read it while nursing my 8 week old baby – we’re on the sofa with the laptop perched on a cushion! I think it’s important for children to use computers but still get plenty of time away from the screen.

  • Hye Son February 3, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I have two boys who seem to have come out of the womb attracted to anything electronic. We have had a long standing rule in the house that there is no electronics/TV during school, weekends only. But I only just found out that the oldest has been sneaking Gameboy in his bed when he told me he is doing homework. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise as he has outgrown the old rule. We are now negotiating what we both want. I want all his homework done first and then I am open to any reasonable request. I’d rather he not sneak around and am hoping that being flexible with his growing needs is more important that any absolute rule.

  • Jenn February 3, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    What a cute picture!

  • Sam February 3, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    this is such a tough question for us…we still don’t have any video games in the house, but my son does have an i-pod, which he got when he was 6 and there are a few games on it. we also let them play games on the computer every once in a while and he goes to friend’s homes and plays maybe once a month or so. our kids are very respectful of the electronics we have too, and often they’d rather write stories on the computer than anything else. still haven’t figured out the answer to this really….i change my mind about how much is too much all the time.

  • janet February 3, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I loved my atari and commodore 64. But as an adult, have never been interested in playing gameboy, playstation or whatever is out there. I have a 4 and a 2 year old. They have no video games and I refuse to purchase a system for them. I remind my mom all the time, just in case she gets the urge to get one for them. However, I have allowed my daughter on the computer with my supervision and it’s usually for no more than 15 minutes. We like to watch spanish cartoons on youtube which I can’t find on dvd or she’ll play dressup or music games on noggin. That’s it and she has not grown addicted to it. This past xmas, she got 2 kid laptops which are now stored in her closet. I’m just not into them and she doesn’t seem to be interested. I’m sure things will change as she gets older but my husband and I are pretty old school when it comes to things like this.

  • paule. February 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Personnally, i think im one of the only person in my generetion (mid-twenties) to be quite helpless at anything computer-gamish, nitendoish, game-cube, whatever…anything that has to do with electronical and games, i cant do.

    I can tell now why that is, my parents never bought those things, and when we were given a nitendo for chritsmas by an uncle, they made us beleive the batteries (what?) would only “work” for an hour a day…

    Still, im pretty happy being a big reader, abble to entertain myself with pretty much anthing outside the house or inside. and consider myself a crafty person too…i think a lot of that has to do with all those hours i was NOT on those machines pushing the same buttons over and over….

    I hope that might help…i certainely do miss out on some inside jokes sometimes, but I will defenetly consider acting the same when raising my own future-kids.

  • sally February 3, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Oh that photograph brings back many memories for me. I was definitely on my laptop a lot when nursing my 2nd son! Our boys are also really good with not messing around with our computers and we have our laptops lying around all over the house. I’ve let the boys play educational games on the computer before but honestly they are not that interested. They would much rather play with their legos or run around outside. We haven’t had a tv for the past 6 months and no one misses it! We have one of those PS3 but my husband only bought it so we could play rock band when friends come over. 🙂

  • myra February 3, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    We leave our computer on the couch too! Which we really shouldn’t because one day the cord started smoking and then burst into flames. We let our son use the computer now and then but we’re always seated next to him when he does. He loves playing fidgit on PBS kids but for now that’s the extent of what he’s allowed to play. We did have a DS for a while but it quickly became a problem with him playing it in bed past his bed time and trying to sneak it to school. Plus I much rather do something with him then have him engrossed in looking at that little screen.

  • se7en February 3, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Hi there, unlurking !!! Totally love your blog!!! We have computers everywhere, every flat surface and cameras and phones and… lots of not kid-friendly stuff!!! Every table every chair… A friend asked the other day “What do you do to protect your electronics?” Um, never thought of it, our kids know they are tools, treat them as such and use them when they need to and ignore them the rest of the time. All my kids are totally computer literate and mess around on computers from the tiniest age. If they happen to find a site that has games they may dabble…. but mostly they are researching odd words they have heard or how to do stuff and writing endless “books/blogs”!!! Starfall has taught all my kids to be competent on a computer, not to mention reading… I would guess if they are part of the furniture rather than sacred they are not an issue!!!

  • Emily February 3, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    I think it is inevitable in this day and time for kids to have some form of video games or electronics, but I think it is great when kids work to earn them. When the Nintendo first came out, my sister and I begged and begged our parents to get us one. They agreed to let us have one, however we had to spend some of our summer working (doing little chores around the house) to earn the “money” for half of the cost and they would pay for the other half. This concept occurred a few times during my younger years, and I have to say I still am proud that I worked for something vs. just being given things all the time.

  • nichole Robertson February 3, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    First – I am beginning to be a bit freaked out by our parallel lives! I also nursed both kids with a laptop on my lap, and there were definite nursing cues tipped off by the opening of the computer (kid you not!).

    And I also have a permanent spot on the couch where my computer lives. The kids rarely touch it.

    My oldest uses my old Macbook (it has a little crack in the screen) for sites like poissonrouge.com, charlieandlola.com, etc. We restrict his time on it, but he uses computers at school, so I don’t think it’s too early.

  • Fiona February 3, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I agree that nursing can get boring. I spent a lot of time watching House Hunters (30 minute show + 30 minute baby = perfect timing!).

    These days we don’t have TV, so Iain uses our computers to watch Sesame Street clips online and Netflix streaming video (usually Kipper the dog, Bob the Builder, and Thomas the Train). He has learned to start and stop the action with the shift key, and sometime he accidentally turns the device off with his button-pushing.

    He likes to carry remote controls around, talking into them like cell phones, too.

    We take a pretty relaxed approach, I guess. As an infant has was totally, totally not interested in anything electronic. Now, he’s very interested. And we just go with the flow. We try not to be excessive about any of it in our lives, thus I don’t think it’s excessive for him, either.

  • lyann February 3, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    My story is ironic. My husband is a total computer nerd, he is a computer engineer here in San Diego. But, at the same time my daughter, 4 years old, goes to Waldorf School. Absolutely no “screen” time. That means no computer, TV, gameboy, nothing until about high school.

  • Honey February 3, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    My husband and I are newly married (Jan 7th, 2010), and have no children yet, however we’ve discussed this topic many many many times. I think that havng both grown up on video games we know that we each have our own addictive tendencies with these things, and its quite possible it could end up the same way with our future children. I also feel like when you look at kids today, they’re are attached by the thumbs to electronics, and it makes me a little sad. We’ve decided that we will allow a Nintendo 64 in the house (my husband’s still works), but nothing else in terms of gaming system. I think the Wii is great and all, but we’d rather take the future kids bowling then play it on a console. I think there’s something to be said for gaining eye-hand coordination from playing a video game, and something else to be said about getting eye-hand coordination from running around with friends and playing a game or sport. To each their own, this is just our philosophy.

  • Truly Smitten February 3, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    such well behaved girls! I hope my future kids will know not to go NEAR my things too….my little 5 yr old cousin went up to her mommy’s room, started rummaging through her jewelry box and came downstairs wearing her mom’s diamond engagement ring loosely around her finger! You can imagine how the mom panicked…how’d you train them so well =)

  • neta February 3, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    my kids are exactly like you described mia and caludine. allthough they are much older now, we never had to protect or remove stuff…
    as to when they got their own PC’s- the oldest right before high school, allthough we had 2 other pc’s at home that all kids had access to, but by highschool she really needed it for studying and writting papers and such. the others soon after her ( they youngest which is 12 got his the earliest ) same with cell-phones. I think my girls were the last of the bunch to recieve a cell-phone. they got it when they went to high school, and for the reason it is not in our town, and I wanted to be able to know how they get home if they have no ride et”c. The young one got his for his 12th birthday, a month ago, also for my convinience, as he swims 6 times a week, and I was tired of parking, getting out of the car, walking to the pool to pick him up, then waiting until he’s finished dressing . so now he calls 10 minutes before he’s ready and I come- better for me.

  • alexandra February 4, 2010 at 5:12 am

    i don’t have kids yet, but when me and paulo talk about that, we agree that we should keep them away from it as long as we can.

    they have so many time in their lives to pass in front of computers (like we have to) that passing time, drawing, playing games (not electronic ones), running and some others things is more healthy and will be better for them.

    i agree with neta, 12 is more than enough for a cell, if they really need it.

    finally i also hope that mine are like mia and claudine so we don’t have to remove stuff and have this extra-thought. (my computer is always everywhere then the desk).

  • cath w February 4, 2010 at 5:55 am

    Hi there – Our nine year old son showed a big BIG interest in technology from the word go (Daddy used to read his tech books out loud to him as a newborn). So my husband wrote a simple program for his old laptop – when you pushed a key, the letter would appear (upper and lower) in bright colours and would say the name. Josh would sit on the floor with it (about 5 mins at a time) – result? He knew his alphabet by the age of two. With a little guidance, he taught himself C++ at age 7.
    Both Josh and his 7 year old sister have all the usual access to DS’s, computer’s etc but always ask before using them, and always downstairs where we can see what they’re doing. I think it’s important to have time limits just so they get time for other interests but like you say, games never hurt US, right?

  • cath w February 4, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Just read through the other comments and wanted to point out something to the Mum of the six year old who has an iPod. PLEASE be careful of headphones and children. My husband works for BBC radio and relies on his hearing to keep his job. He refuses to let our children where headphones (any brand/type at all) – their hearing can SO easily be damaged by these things.
    Just saying.

  • Fiona February 4, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Mmm. The electronic babysitter. It’s a tricky one. My son has mild Aspergers Syndrome (form of autism). On the one hand computers are something he loves and is good at, which is great for his self-esteem and really importantly gives him a common ground to interact with his peers. On the other, I’m wary of screen time because it fuels his obsessive tendencies. Establishing a set amount of time, 30-60 min works but if it gets out of hand and the kids are shouting for more computer time I tend to just get rid of the tv and computer for a while (Granny needs to borrow them!). We’d no tv or computer at all for 6 months last year, but I just had to get it back for the night of the US election. To be honest, those 6 months didn’t seem to make any difference to the kids, one way or the other. And I agree with se7en, Starfall rocks! Great early reading programme.

  • amanda February 4, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I love this blog and see so many parallels to my own life as a graphic designer and Brooklyn mom. Personally, I think I watched WAY too much TV as a kid. We weren’t too into video games (I’m a little older than you Jenna and gaming wasn’t all that developed).

    We are on a media diet but I am not totally strict about it because, I think that if you clamp down too much kids fetishize whatever it is they can’t have and then go nuts when they go to sleepovers, etc. I really admire the Waldorf approach but I don’t think it’s entirely practical for my situation.

    I don’t want to seem alarmist but didn’t anyone read that article in the NY Times recently?
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/education/20wired.html?scp=2&sq=kids%20and%20screentime&st=cse

    Here is the first line: “The average young American now spends practically every waking minute — except for the time in school — using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.”

    To say that we “turned out okay” is absolutely legitimate but we’re living in a totally different context now…

  • Jane February 4, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    To be honest, the last thing you want is to turn computers and video games into “forbidden fruit” – something that, because it is forbidden, becomes just too tempting to resist! That’s when kids go overboard, and “gorge” themselves on things. TV and video games are a part of life now, and trying to shield your kids from them isn’t fair or healthy. My kids watch Saturday morning cartoons, they watch Treehouse (do they have this channel in the States? It’s for preschoolers) and PBS. My husband is also a software engineer who was playing games and fiddling with computer almost before he was walking!

  • A Merry Mishap February 4, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Our little guy is only 4 mos so i’m not sure yet how i feel but i can totally relate to nursing while on the computer!

  • Amy February 4, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    The most annoying instance for us + kids + computers was this: Janey, at the ripe age of 1, used to reach up and press keys on the keyboard. Somehow, more than a few times, she managed to hit the “fast keys” for changing the keyboard to Japanese. I can’t remember now what we had to do to change it back to English, but it was more than frustrating for us non-savvy types. But that’s not really on topic…just funny.

    And, I agree with Amanda that we’re living in a whole new context, every generation does. We are seeking a balance in our house too, but for all of us, not just the kids. For starters, when we re-do the kitchen, the kitchen tv will go out with the old cabinets. Our kids have too high an expectation that it’s there for them whenever they want.

  • nina February 4, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    That photo of yours reminds me so much of how I pretty much look like every day with baby #4!

    My kids, same as yours are pretty the same way with our electronics. Though baby #4 broke our wii by putting a quarter inside the CD slot. But with everything else, they are very respectful about it. I have kids that are 13 year old twins and they started using the computer pretty early. But now, they only get to use it on weekends. They are also uninterested with facebook and stuff like that which their friends are crazy about.

    I think kids nowadays are way different from how we used to be. Laptops and other gadgets amazed us years ago because the idea were very new to us but the kids now were born with these new high tech thingies that it doesn’t interests them that much anymore but I know it would, once they know how amazing these things are!

  • gizella February 4, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    my 2 year old thinks the computer is called ELMO since i broke down and showed her elmo you tube videos on a trip to south carolina last year. There were terrible thunderstorms, and she was antsy, so antsy. I wish she were more respectful though, of gosh, everything.

  • doris c February 5, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    i can totally see, if i had another baby now, i would be the same way. but only a few years back (almost 7 years ago), when i had my baby, there wasn’t a lot online for me to read, especially while nursing. i ended up spending the money on cable tv with ALL the channels and a PVR.

    but being a single mum, working from home, and mostly on the computer, my daughter tends not to be interested in it – as to her, it’s the thing that distracts mum from ME.

    but she loves her ipod touch (hand-me-down from me when i got the iphone). i load all her movies and tv shows on there, and the apps that i purchase are also available to her (as well as the games). this 6 yr old is already asking for the ipad.

  • lesley [smidgebox] February 5, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    interesting post, jenna. we are very similar in some ways, here.
    i leave the laptop on the sofa table all the time, neither kid is interested in touching it themselves. they know it’s not allowed, somehow, but i don’t recall having to tell them not to. we don’t let them play video games or computer games. i’ve gotten strange looks from many people when they hear that my 5-year-old doesn’t know how to use a mouse. I don’t think it’s something to be ashamed of, personally. why not enjoy playing with their many fun toys + games, or just jumping around and playing together? they have their whole lives to be hidden behind a screen or gadget. their childhood time is so short. we do, however, enjoy watching old sesame street clips and some movie trailers on you-tube, and looking up pictures of our old favourite vintage toys.
    [ps – i definitely nursed babe #2 with the laptop by my side. so many hours…]

  • Nicole : Three By Sea February 5, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Jack just turned two in January and he is ALL about the electronic devices. We bought him his own kiddie computer at 18 months because he was obsessed with our laptops. It’s helped with leaving ours alone, but he still wants to play with mine, specifically, the drawing tablet. He’s still too rough with our stuff though, so at this point, it’s off limits to him.
    Instead, Jack will now get his drink and cereal in the morning, plop down at his table where his laptop sits, open it up and start “working” on it, just like Mommy does.

  • Jenna February 5, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Amanda,
    thanks for that link to that article. I hadn’t seen it before and you are right. We ARE living in a totally different world than when we were kids. we didn’t have anything other than tv and early video games. makes me think about the issue a bit differently…

  • jean February 5, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    I think you should def. let them “play” with computer-based equipments. However, like anything else, with moderation. You probably already know that Korea is the most wired country in the world. Do you also know that they have rehabs for internet addicts? Crazy! So, my point is, it’s an issue of moderation, irrelevant of the object/subject.

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