We’ve got two kids. Ages 8 and 5 as of this writing (birthday coming up in Oct., wish us luck), and we’ve managed, so far, to keep their screen time limited to two days a week. By screen time , I mainly mean “playing Club Penguin” or “completely immersed in the iPad”. Movies don’t count. Anyway, the amazing thing is how stressed out it seems to make them when you try to take it away. I’ve never seen them so freaked out as when we tell them that time’s up and they actually have to interact with the real world again.
We’ve so far resisted getting them iPod touches, or Nintendo DS, or whatever other gaming device the kids are bringing to school and playing on the playground, but when we pick them up, they’re sitting there looking over the shoulders of the kid who did bring it. Along with the rest of the kids who didn’t bring anything electronic.
In my heart, I know that the battle is futile. In the battle between parents and computers, the computers will win. The computers never get tired of saying “No, you can’t talk to your parents, come play with me!”, their “on” switch always works (OK, maybe we could try to run down the batteries of every DS?), they wear us down, little by little. Because I know my on switch is sometimes broken. In a way, kids are a little like the devices they’re playing with, because they don’t ever seem to get tired of asking “Daddy, can we play Club Penguin?”
Alright, I think, if you can’t beat them…
And so, unfortunately not as fully formed as Athena, an Idea sprung from my head (nor am I Zeus, for that matter). What about a toy for the iPad? Not a game, with the points and levels and high scores, and explosions and blood spattering everywhere, but just a simple kids toy. And so begun a long arduous path to take that idea and make it… into an app. Easy enough, right? OK, not right. By a long shot. But in the end, we’ll have an app that the kids can use to construct things, something I’d like to play with myself. And you know what? Even though the app isn’t finished yet, I do play with it. And so do the kids. And I can sit there for quite a while just looking at what I’ve made, watching the balls falling down.