My children are screen-obsessed IT monsters. Ironic really, when their mother admitted just recently in this very forum, how challenged she has been in that department. I nod knowingly at new parents who claim their kids will never be like that – as I once did. TV, DVD, computers, PSP , DS or PS3 – they are familiar with them all. My male four-year-old has no trouble reciting the “How to” guide on Foxtel, navigating Google or running my mobile battery flat having accessed Nokia’s best games.
Undoubtedly they are a product of my permissiveness to a degree, but is it as criminal as we are led to believe? Do I think they will become axe-wielding social misfits? Not from my observations.
Do I let them eat pies and drink coke in a darkened room whilst they indulge their geeky passion? Certainly not. Do I allow them to play and watch until their square eyes bulge from their tiny sockets? Certainly not. Do I allow unscrutinised viewing of Youtube and vicious smack-down gaming? Sometimes without knowing, but on the whole, no.
I would challenge anyone who said peer pressure doesn’t figure into the equation. Who wants their little Johnny to be the only one who doesn’t know what “levelling up” is? Or on a baser level, to have raised little Susie – the only cherub who doesn’t know the theme tune to the Simpson’s?
Sad but true. Ten-year-old boys aren’t playing with racetracks anymore. Thankfully, mine does know how to shoot a mean Nerf gun, have a trampoline contest, scooter derby or park war but only in between sharing screen time with his friends. It’s all communal now you know. Every home in the neighbourhood has children talking to each other from their gaming console or computer chair.
Would I prefer my four-year- old learnt to love a puppy in real life and not in a virtual world? Sure, but I’ve just tried the real version and it ended badly. Would I prefer he didn’t insist I write down web addresses he gets from kid’s TV for online games he wishes to conquer? Yes! But when he can tell me how to repair the Foxtel, I am forever grateful.