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Ask DSM Readers: Boundaries and Balance with Computers and More

by Tara Kuczykowski on October 27, 2008 · 22 comments

Hacken maar!
photo credit: Inferis

I recently talked about how computers have affected my childrens' lives. I believe they've had a positive impact on my kids thus far, but Melody made an important point about some of the negative aspects she's seen. She mentioned that her daughter wants to spend all of her time on the computer, so I wanted to share how we are attempting to steer our children away from this even at an early age.

I feel that it's important that we as parents be vigilant about teaching our children about balance in all areas of their lives. For example, my children do not get any TV, computer, or video game time until their homework is done, and we make a point of taking them outside to play whenever possible. As they get older, their computer time will be monitored closely and limited accordingly. If we set a good example now, it will be that much easier to keep them on track as they get older. And if your children are already older, well, it's never too late to lay down some rules.

How do your teach your children to maintain balance in their lives? Do you have rules around computer usage?



{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Trish October 27, 2008 at 8:43 pm

Around here we call these things "screens." This includes the TV, video games, computer and even the Leapster. I have found that my children (ages 14, 11, 7, 4, & 2) will completely overdose on these things if I let them. If I tell them they can't watch TV, they ask to do computer. If that doesn't work, they beg to play Wii.

We don't have any strict rules except that schoolwork needs to be completed first and they always ask before being allowed a screen. On days when I see they are obsessed and everything else is "boring," there will be no screens except the computer for schoolwork only. Screens make a wonderful bribe tool to get unliked tasks done or a child may be grounded from screens as a form of punishment.

Balance is very important. A child that spends too much time in front of screens tends to lose interest in everything else that doesn't just allow them to sit and be entertained. I see that when my children are allowed to overdue on the passive entertainment of screens, they forget the fun of simple creative play.

Trish´s last blog post..Frugality

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2 Trish October 27, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Around here we call these things "screens." This includes the TV, video games, computer and even the Leapster. I have found that my children (ages 14, 11, 7, 4, & 2) will completely overdose on these things if I let them. If I tell them they can't watch TV, they ask to do computer. If that doesn't work, they beg to play Wii.

We don't have any strict rules except that schoolwork needs to be completed first and they always ask before being allowed a screen. On days when I see they are obsessed and everything else is "boring," there will be no screens except the computer for schoolwork only. Screens make a wonderful bribe tool to get unliked tasks done or a child may be grounded from screens as a form of punishment.

Balance is very important. A child that spends too much time in front of screens tends to lose interest in everything else that doesn't just allow them to sit and be entertained. I see that when my children are allowed to overdue on the passive entertainment of screens, they forget the fun of simple creative play.

Trish´s last blog post..Frugality

Reply

3 wendy October 27, 2008 at 9:13 pm

My children are 10,7,5 & 2. We often do not let them use the internet becuase they have so many other places to "play games." They have gameboys as well as an xbox. I really feel like at this time in their lives-That is all they need. They will be on computers the rest of their life so we try to focus their attention on childhood things like playing outdoors and video games. I am not saying the internet is not useful but we have close relatives that allow there children to surf the web anytime they want with no supervision. The same children know how to enter passwords to see what mom and dad have purchased lately as well as check their parent's email. ( ages 7 & 9) I want our children's experience with the internet to be much different. We will allow our children to use the internet with supervision in the future.

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4 wendy October 27, 2008 at 5:13 pm

My children are 10,7,5 & 2. We often do not let them use the internet becuase they have so many other places to "play games." They have gameboys as well as an xbox. I really feel like at this time in their lives-That is all they need. They will be on computers the rest of their life so we try to focus their attention on childhood things like playing outdoors and video games. I am not saying the internet is not useful but we have close relatives that allow there children to surf the web anytime they want with no supervision. The same children know how to enter passwords to see what mom and dad have purchased lately as well as check their parent's email. ( ages 7 & 9) I want our children's experience with the internet to be much different. We will allow our children to use the internet with supervision in the future.

Reply

5 Deal Seeking Mom October 27, 2008 at 9:27 pm

I love that term "screens," Trish. I think we'll have to implement that in our household, too.

That's really scary, Wendy. While we do allow the little ones online, they have specified sites that I have set up (NickJr, Transformers, Noggin, etc.), and they can't surf anywhere else. Plus, the computer is right in the living room where the whole family is. As my oldest gets more sophisticated and starts to use the Internet for schoolwork and more, I plan to research some of the parental control software. I'll definitely share my findings when I do!

Reply

6 Deal Seeking Mom October 27, 2008 at 5:27 pm

I love that term "screens," Trish. I think we'll have to implement that in our household, too.

That's really scary, Wendy. While we do allow the little ones online, they have specified sites that I have set up (NickJr, Transformers, Noggin, etc.), and they can't surf anywhere else. Plus, the computer is right in the living room where the whole family is. As my oldest gets more sophisticated and starts to use the Internet for schoolwork and more, I plan to research some of the parental control software. I'll definitely share my findings when I do!

Reply

7 Denise October 27, 2008 at 11:09 pm

Tag! Your it!
Check it out on my blog here:
http://thecentsiblesawyer.blogspot.
com/2008/10/ive-been-tagged.html

(Don't feel obligated, I just got tagged so many times I felt like I should play! And now I am passing it on if you want to play along).

Denise
The "Cent"sible Sawyer

Reply

8 Denise October 27, 2008 at 7:09 pm

Tag! Your it!
Check it out on my blog here:
http://thecentsiblesawyer.blogspot.
com/2008/10/ive-been-tagged.html

(Don't feel obligated, I just got tagged so many times I felt like I should play! And now I am passing it on if you want to play along).

Denise
The "Cent"sible Sawyer

Reply

9 Jessica McCarty October 28, 2008 at 1:13 am

I'm still learning how to impose boundaries mostly on my stepdaughter. She'll watch her little shows and listen to music mostly and I'm having a hard time to give her limits especially when she is bored and I don't have anything for her to do. Great tips! Thanks!

Jessica McCarty´s last blog post..Menu Plan Monday

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10 Jessica McCarty October 27, 2008 at 9:13 pm

I'm still learning how to impose boundaries mostly on my stepdaughter. She'll watch her little shows and listen to music mostly and I'm having a hard time to give her limits especially when she is bored and I don't have anything for her to do. Great tips! Thanks!

Jessica McCarty´s last blog post..Menu Plan Monday

Reply

11 Amber October 28, 2008 at 1:27 am

My daughters are 10 and almost 13 and go to public school. Here are the rules: when they get home from school they have snack, do homework and then the days chores. After which they can play on the computer but have to each take a turn. The computer is in the living room and I don't plan on changing that at all. I think it is best they are close so we can monitor their usage.

Mainly they watch episodes of their favorite shows and IM their school friends.

At this age we don't allow them to participate in Myspace or Facebook.

-Amber

Amber´s last blog post..Coupon Clipping Services

Reply

12 Amber October 27, 2008 at 9:27 pm

My daughters are 10 and almost 13 and go to public school. Here are the rules: when they get home from school they have snack, do homework and then the days chores. After which they can play on the computer but have to each take a turn. The computer is in the living room and I don't plan on changing that at all. I think it is best they are close so we can monitor their usage.

Mainly they watch episodes of their favorite shows and IM their school friends.

At this age we don't allow them to participate in Myspace or Facebook.

-Amber

Amber´s last blog post..Coupon Clipping Services

Reply

13 Amber October 28, 2008 at 1:39 am

I forgot to add.....Back talking or sassing usually results in losing computer privileges for the rest of that day! The girls really hate that but it works. :)

-Amber

Amber´s last blog post..Coupon Clipping Services

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14 Amber October 27, 2008 at 9:39 pm

I forgot to add.....Back talking or sassing usually results in losing computer privileges for the rest of that day! The girls really hate that but it works. :)

-Amber

Amber´s last blog post..Coupon Clipping Services

Reply

15 Jessica October 28, 2008 at 2:17 am

I homeschool and mine are still young (5, 4, 2 1/2, and infant), but we limit "screens" as well (I like that term, too! Thanks, Trish!). We don't turn on the computer or TV until schoolwork is done, because it is too much of a distraction (the younger ones can't even do computer until the oldest is done with school). I have preset icons on the desktop that they can click on to go straight to their websites, and have named them simply (Dora, Elmo, Starfall--a great one!, Boz etc.) I set a timer so they can each take a turn. They don't even ask for the computer every day, actually. They get to watch 1 DVD a day (they DO ask for this!), and they have to agree on which one. They very rarely watch cartoons on TV.

To be honest, I need to be better about limiting myself!!

Jessica´s last blog post..A Surprise Date!

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16 Jessica October 27, 2008 at 10:17 pm

I homeschool and mine are still young (5, 4, 2 1/2, and infant), but we limit "screens" as well (I like that term, too! Thanks, Trish!). We don't turn on the computer or TV until schoolwork is done, because it is too much of a distraction (the younger ones can't even do computer until the oldest is done with school). I have preset icons on the desktop that they can click on to go straight to their websites, and have named them simply (Dora, Elmo, Starfall--a great one!, Boz etc.) I set a timer so they can each take a turn. They don't even ask for the computer every day, actually. They get to watch 1 DVD a day (they DO ask for this!), and they have to agree on which one. They very rarely watch cartoons on TV.

To be honest, I need to be better about limiting myself!!

Jessica´s last blog post..A Surprise Date!

Reply

17 Alice October 28, 2008 at 4:06 am

Funny you should bring this up, as a nanny I have dealt with this alot. At my last job "screen time" had limits. We had weekly "screen time" allowances. Here is a link on my blog about it http://www.nannyadventures.com/making-life-easier-as-a-nannyparent/turn-off-that-playstation-and-computer/

The kids got 7 hours of "screen time" a week to spend how they wanted. They also lost it for sassying and other things. They could even earn more for extras at times. The time was broken up into 15 minute segments, here is a link to the chart you can make at home http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dfx8pg87_1f72v95ht

Alice´s last blog post..Money Monday: How to save and get free deals

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18 Alice October 28, 2008 at 12:06 am

Funny you should bring this up, as a nanny I have dealt with this alot. At my last job "screen time" had limits. We had weekly "screen time" allowances. Here is a link on my blog about it http://www.nannyadventures.com/making-life-easier-as-a-nannyparent/turn-off-that-playstation-and-computer/

The kids got 7 hours of "screen time" a week to spend how they wanted. They also lost it for sassying and other things. They could even earn more for extras at times. The time was broken up into 15 minute segments, here is a link to the chart you can make at home http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dfx8pg87_1f72v95ht

Alice´s last blog post..Money Monday: How to save and get free deals

Reply

19 Deal Seeking Mom October 28, 2008 at 4:42 am

These are all great suggestions, and thanks for sharing those resources, Alice!

Reply

20 Deal Seeking Mom October 28, 2008 at 12:42 am

These are all great suggestions, and thanks for sharing those resources, Alice!

Reply

21 Jules October 29, 2008 at 4:01 am

From a mom who got caught in the middle of the internet age with no one advising me that I should set limits on it, DO IT NOW, with your young kids! My son is now 17 and it's nearly IMPOSSIBLE to set limits on his computer time when I've allowed it to be so much of his daily life.

Jules´s last blog post..Facial Masks

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22 Jules October 29, 2008 at 12:01 am

From a mom who got caught in the middle of the internet age with no one advising me that I should set limits on it, DO IT NOW, with your young kids! My son is now 17 and it's nearly IMPOSSIBLE to set limits on his computer time when I've allowed it to be so much of his daily life.

Jules´s last blog post..Facial Masks

Reply

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