Janice Turner is a hard working mom. She can't constantly be watching everything her children do which includes watching TV, using the computer and listening to the iPod. One thing she can control apparently is how often her kids play video games, which is never since she refuses to buy her kids any gaming consoles. As a parent, this is of course her choice and more power to her for trying to get her kids to spend some quality time playing outside with other kids and the like. My parents did the same to me with cartoons. Saturday at noon the TV went off and my brother and I went outside. Getting your kids to do anything besides intaking copious amounts of media has been a problem for parents since the invention of the radio. But, as "media" grows larger there are more distractions that make it harder for parents to get their kids away from it.
This is the subject matter that Turner tackles in her recent rant/article on The Times website. Although her article is titled "Xbox is crack for Kids" she mostly complains about general media and technology and how to (or not to) regulate "screen time" for her kids and how this is a seemingly impossible task. She saves her most venomous words for video games which she attacks with vehemence in the last paragraph:
Once, such kids would be the playground outcasts, but no longer. Mine are. Because, unlike the TV-hating parents, I refuse to buy them portable gaming consoles, Xboxes, GameCubes, PS2s. These are Satan's Sudoku, crack cocaine of the brain. Even the crappiest cartoon or lamest soap teaches a child about character, plot, drama, humour, life. Playing videogames, children are mentally imprisoned, wired into their evil creators' brains. And they play them - beepety-beep - on journeys, over family meals, any minute in which they find themselves unamused.
And their parents never seem to say, hey, this is the bit where you pick up a book. Or game over, kids: get an inner life.
Several Times readers were quick to come forward and refute Turner's claims and point out that within her article she even states that "I don't have the resolve for all this." How can someone complain of the negative effects of media on their children when they admit that they can't be bothered to make the effort to control it themselves? Times reader Marcus hit the nail right on the head with his comment:
Ahhh videogames. The source of all evil. Again. I'm guessing Janice you've never ever played one. I regulate my kids TV time very strictly - about 4 hours a week presently. But I let them play Super Mario Galaxy (as part of that time). It is a joyous, wondrous world of colour and fun and inspires them to draw pictures, write stories and play 'Mario' outside. So what exactly is the problem with that?
The problem you have by the sounds of it, is that you are laying blame at the door of the easiest scapegoat and not your own deficiencies as a parent.
It's the age old saga, parents complaining about something they just don't understand and heaven knows they aren't going to try. The whole piece just reeks of someone who discovered too late that if you are going to try and regiment your kid's media time, it has to be done from the beginning. You can't just decide this would be a good idea after eight to ten years and then only half heartedly try to enforce it. Just like the never ending debate over video game violence, the problem of too much media time for kids lies squarely on the doorstep of the parents. The onus, Miss Turner, is on you.
Xbox is crack for kids [The Times]