It’s Okay for Kids to Watch TV and Play Video Games

No! This image is bullshit! Click on through for an alternate view of children's television watching.No! This image is bullshit! Click through for an alternative view of children's video games playing.

I’m going to keep hammering away at this problem, because I think adults as really messing up here.

Look, kids like TV. And video games. Computers. Cell phones. Are you mad about that? Do you think of these interests as harmful obstacles to real life?

Then what you’re really doing is alienating the children you ostensibly care about and making yourself irrelevant.

TV, computers, video games, and cell phones are real life. When you go to battle with these objects and activities, you’re battling real people and their real lives.

You sound dumb, too.

Both of those little quips in the images are wrong.

At least for me.

My grade-school childhood was in the 80s. It was before personal computers and way before cell phones. Our video game system was an Atari.

Best day of television?

I remember looking forward to watching Disney Sunday Night movies as a family pretty much every week. Thinking back, The Return of the Shaggy Dog was probably my favorite.

That means November 1st, 1987 was my best day of television.

Making memories playing video games?

My grandma had an Atari and loved playing Pac-Man. When I was staying at her house, sometimes we would play for what seemed like hours. She was so good! I got better and better, but I don’t think I ever beat her. Pac-Man for hours with my grandma is one of my favorite childhood memories. Not just favorite video game memories. Favorite childhood memory!

There. How hard was that? How surprising? It shouldn’t be. If you think kids aren’t really enjoying these things, you probably haven’t asked them. Maybe you should start there.

One of those pictures is of kids jumping off a sand dune at the beach. The other is kids fishing at a lake. Those are wonderful activities, and I have all sorts of memories like that in my childhood, too.

Maybe parents feel guilty about not offering those activities to their kids. Life is busy, money is short, and all that. I get that.

If guilt is the reason for recoiling from TV and video games, then I suggest an alternative: trying to support the things you do want instead of criticizing the things you don’t.

There’s room enough in a child’s life for all kinds of activities. My 3 year old has his own phone, and he’s on it a lot! On the other hand, right now he’s outside playing with trains in the pool, earlier this morning he was digging in his garden box, and yesterday we did a long trek along a river bed to go see some waterfalls. All of those things have benefits. For example, when he’s on his phone we’re usually snuggling. We both love to snuggle, and it’s really important to me to share a lot of nurturing touch. We can’t do that on a hike!

Besides, have you see the super cool tablets being made for kids? (That’s an affiliate link, and just one miscellaneous option. Shop around!) Super padded, friendly content, camera, games, videos. These things might be the greatest kids toys ever invented!

If you are critical of children’s use of phones, computers, and TVs, are you willing to reconsider? What stands in your way of supporting children in their own interests?

It's okay for kids to watch TV, play video games, and use phones and tablets. Chill out. It's going to be ok!