254: Hypocritical Mommy

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Hypocritical Mommy

Any self-respecting parent usually limits the TV and gaming time of spawn in the early years of their lifecycle. Mur Lafferty wonders if the limits that she places on her own geek daughter have merit for her own intellectual development.

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Well now. This is quite an interesting article, as I, too, am a work-at-home with parental responsibilities.

But my opinion is also coming courtesy of my wife's sagacious knowledge from her days teaching preschool and her early childhood development education.

Part of the reason why parental figures often need to impose hypocritical rules on children are simply because the needs of children as they develop are different to a fully-developed adult. The stimulation that needs to be addressed over the formative years focus on several avenues; for example, the ability to move an object from the left to right and vice-versa is imperative in childhood development.

If we were to follow the same rules, then either a)the child's development or b)the adult's development would theoretically be hampered.

Rather prefer to think that since im the one bringing home the bacon i am allotted a bit more freedom than say my kid whom is a giant investment/money sink. XD

I think i was about 14 when i realize that money was the end all be all in the world and when i realized that fact, i never complained about any "unfair" treatment from my parents. They fed me, clothed me, and put a roof over my head, so who am I to dictate what I can do as compared to what they can do.

I like to think your hypocrisy is merely being shrewd about your child's future. Having her realize when she is able to do all the things you do for her herself is when she can act as you, deserving of more media time. (yeh im well aware that sentence is some kind of crazy syntax error but this is the interwebz and who cares ab00t proper wayz to speakz engrish!! ) XD

p.s. these articles are pretty much all the reading i do all day!

Not to mention that, sadly like most adults, children simply aren't equipped at most ages to understand that "good for you" trumps "instant gratification".

The adult should be the authority figure for no other reason than that they're the adult, I'm afraid. I've seen situations as an educator where the situation the author describes herself wanting has come about. It usually ends up in hours of negotiation before the parent gives far too much ground, and the child learns that complaining gets them what they want.

If you want to try to explain things to your thirteen-year-old, that's fine (and good luck), but younger than that, you're just setting up everyone else in the world for a complainer. The reason we have children and raise them well isn't to be fair, or to learn important life lessons. It's to raise the child to have a better life than we do. And sometimes, that means feeling a little guilty about decisions we make.

I think its a balance between as an adult you being able to reward yourself but at same time you needing to set an example. I don't have children yet, and don't know if I will ever have, but raising a child seems to be the most "epic quest" one can take through a lifetime.

That hit home hard - I used to be placed under such media restrictions, no more than an hour gaming per day, break on Wednesday and Sunday. But as I got older I outgrew such restraints. But I've noticed more and more that my internet/gaming time has increased while my reading time has fallen off.

Part of me blames on the lack of good books I have around but that's not true as a trip to the bookshop would solve that problem. And as an aspiring writer i really should be reading more. I guess somethings going to have to change....

I remember the point when I realized it was time to stop playing video games with my son in the room.

Fallout 3. Shooting a supermutant in the head with my combat shotgun. My 12 month old son who was in the room playing with some of his trains goes "Icky..."

Xbox off. Let's go play outside.

Honestly, I worry about this myself with regards to when I have my own kids. As for your parents, I honestly don't think that made much of a difference. My parents took your approach and rationed my media time (although back in the 80s it was pretty much TV and video games only). I had a half hour on weekdays, and an hour on weekends. If anything, I think because I was rationed when I was a kid, now I'm like "Fuck it, I cut the lawn and vacuumed and did my grown-up crap. Now I'm spending the rest of the day playing Mario Galaxy 2."

I love the article but I disagree with the emphasis on reading. I'm notoriously bad at time sinks and when i gave up games for Lent I just spent inordinate amounts of time doing over time sinks and reading was a major factor of that. I guess it's good to have variety but for me reading is just as much of a brain waster as gaming, you don't get a good feeling when you've realised that you spent the whole day reading.

Excellent article, I'll send it to my wife who isn't a gamer but still has the same dilemmas throughout her day.

The key to this and everything is priorities and balance. Everyone should take the time to inventory what things are important in their lives. And don't let other people judge the things you think are important. If 10 hours a week raiding with your guild is important then it is your job as the manager of yourself to figure out how to fit that in along with all of the other important things in your life.

Being your own manager isn't fun at all. But it is satisfying because everything is more enjoyable if you know that is the activity you are focusing on, and not doing because you are putting off doing something else.

It's great to hear what you as a parent think about media time, since I only understand it from the kid's POV.

When I was younger, my dad was a gamer, the commodore 64 kind. He spent time with me on his lap, teaching me at 5 years old how insert the discs, start the program, and play the (insanely hard games). Even later systems, I would sit on his knee and hit the space bar to open doors while he searched for the secret areas in DOOM, and hit all his keyboard commands while he steered us around in space flight games like Privateer. That was time that I got to spend with him, just him and I, and it was great. Even in shooting games, because it was with my dad, I never had any disillusions about violence, he was there teaching me right from wrong, but still doing it in fun ways.

When I was a teenager, my parents wanted me to get off the computer all the time; I would get home and be on it for quite a bit of time, if I'm honest... 4-5 hours after school. I knew that I was being balanced in my time spent on it, though, since that involved my homework time as well as gaming and reading online. I didn't spend ANY time watching TV, though, simply had no interest in watching TV shows that I couldn't participate in. I enjoyed computer time because I could interact, learn, and play; I could choose what to read, what to play, how to keep my mind busy, instead of having information spewed at me. TV was just so... dull!

Thinking back to my childhood and observing my 4 year old niece (5 in July), I think a lot of people also assume kids will naturally want to do the same thing all day when that is simply not true. When I was young I woke up, turned on the SNES and played until I got bored or the game was beaten (RPG's could be the length of one dungeon, games like Star Fox or Mega Man X until I beat it, so usually about an hour, two at most).

Then I'd get up and do something else like draw or read. I'd move from activity to activity and would often enough cycle through them. My niece is similar. She'll go from toys to watching a DVD to just playing around the house, and so often you can tell she has pent up energy.

The real problem is on all our ends, though I don't have much power or say. My sister is the parent, and she is often clashing with my mother, and my father and I are either not home enough or are too busy with our own business for it to really matter. My mom and sister are inconsistent with each other, and often enough my old man and I don't know some of the rules. As a result, my niece is constantly testing boundaries and something that is okay one day may be bad the next. Plus, my sister wasn't ready to be a mother, so when she gets back from work she gives her child a Proton Pump (supposed to help the production of iron in the blood), has her sit down in front of a mini-DVD player to "calm down from pre-school" and then my sister relaxes with Ghost Hunters. I understand wanting to relax, but the first thing afterward should be an activity between her and her daughter.

It is this sort of attitude that a lot of adults approach child raising with. They aren't necessarily thinking of using the DVD player as a babysitter, but more "I'll get to you when I'm ready". Which isn't what being a parent is about. Being a parent is about dropping what you are doing when your child needs to (there is also a time and place to teach the child patience, but some situations call for immediate attention).

To me, there are three essential activities a child should require. 1) Reading, 2) Video games, and 3) Outside play. Reading and outside play are obvious, but video games...probably not as much. To me, however, video games are so entertaining for me because they aren't passive. My mind is actively engaged. However, instead of working the side of my brain focused on art, imagination and vocabulary, video games are working my problem solving skills as well as logic and math.

I don't know if I would allot specific time if I were a parent. I think I'd just let the kid roam from activity to activity. Do they want to go outside? Well, let's think if I have any outside chores that need to get done. Let them help me out if they can (weeding the garden is something any child can do). Let them help dust the house or fold the laundry. Another problem a lot of parents have is that young children want to learn to do chores. It sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but all kids see is what you do and they want to learn how to do it. The best part is, if you teach them how to do work at a young age then their perception of it as they get older won't be one of inconvenience. In fact, they may enjoy the productivity.

When I was young I started to get fat when my mom got a job and therefore didn't allow us to play outside as much. She couldn't always keep an eye out and wasn't always home to watch either. As a result we were forced to indoor activities and, as the years went on, I started to dislike sports more and more (I wasn't good at them and the town was full of assholes. It wasn't until middle school that I discovered my love of roller hockey, but by then the damage was done). The only thing that changed in my life was outside play. I was still a gamer first and foremost, I still loved to read, write and draw, but I was restricted to those activities without being able to go outside.

Now, as an adult, it takes time for me to work up the energy to do something physical. I enjoy doing it, but something in my head always thinks "man, that's too much work". Part of it is a result of my upbringing. But at the same time, if I'm home an entire day, by the late afternoon I start to feel cabin fever. I have to go outside and do something, no matter how much game time I want to get in before the weekend is done and I have to go back to work.

I believe kids have this spirit in all of them. It's just a matter of being able to sacrifice your own convenience when they need you to (such as wanting to go outside to play).

Sorry for the long ass comment. Generally when I write like this it means "I really loved the article and would love to discuss it further". Just look at it as my seal of approval.

But countless studies have shown that reading improves your mind, your memory retention, your vocabulary, and calms you down.

Yeah sure. Until you got a book that gives you an adrenalin kick. Read lots of those and I couldn't stop reading until I finished it, around 4 am.

Sure got me lots of times. Those evil books

HOLY CRAP ITS NICE TO SEE SOME ACTUAL PARENTING!!!

You know its parents who DON'T regulate the content that their children are exposed to, who are opposed to violent video games, promote game bannings and are up in arms about the R18 classification issue. They are lazy about their parenting so they instead do something totally productive, and complain about everything in gaming.

SILLY PARENTS OF THE WORLD, BEHOLD MUR LAFFERTY'S PARENTING STYLE FOR SHE IS A GREAT PARENT AND A RATIONAL THINKER!

This is a huge topic. I'm 33, my dad and I are raising Elijah, the 9-year-old home schooler. He gets 6 hours of screen time per day on his PC, although we will ground him off it for discipline purposes. The rest of his day is for schooling and outside stuff. He spends most of his PC time in Garry's Mod. Occasionally I can get him to spend a morning in Hammer or MIT's Scratch for a little guerrilla learning. TV isn't an issue for us, we don't have one. It's trash, and there is plenty of free educational stuff online. I also try to game with him whenever I'm not working. Warcraft 3 tower defense mods are our fav.

Also, PC time or game time isn't a complete educational loss in the way that TV time is. For example, Elijah can type 20 words per minute, thanks to Gmod. I sure couldn't type that fast at age nine. We back that up with Mavis Beacon and spelling so he hasn't descended into complete chat barbarism :) He is continuously surprised by why anyone would want the complete spellings of words that are perfectly understandable as abbreviations though. Additionally, he has picked up quite the skills in Hammer, throwing together Gmod levels like a pro. Mit's Scratch is also an incredible piece of software, teaching everything from sound design, to animation, to programming.

I find your one hour limit to be a little harsh, but with public school sucking down the day, I can see the logic there. When I was a kid, I earned TV time with equal reading time. I didn't choose to go that route, because I remember hating reading as a kid due to this practice. It wasn't till I discovered that books had sex in them, that I became an avid reader :) I can get Elijah to read at bedtime, because the rule is you can stay up at late as you want as long as your reading. This works I think because he feels like he's getting away with something ;)

Do I feel guilty when I play the Starcraft Beta, long after I've sent the kid outside to play? A little at first, but as a parent, one of the most important things to protect is your own sanity. If you don't have that, you won't have enough "rope" left to deal patiently with a nine year old who doesn't want to do his math homework. I spend a lot of my early parenting career feeling guilty about everything from bedtime to bike repair. I'd like to think I've mostly outgrown that stuff by now.

What is this preoccupation with books that people go on about. Theyre no better for your brain then a HBO miniseries.

It's all so silly you know. Entertainment is entertainment. If you want to challenge yourself dont just "read a book".

Do you not realise how silly that sounds?

If you want to challenge yourself, you need to learn more stuff. Not wage a battle vs screens and paper.

Reading is one of MANY ways to learn new things - academic things. Doing also works. Try taking up a new hobby - lets see how much reading you do... unless its a bookclub or sometime.

The problem in the end is that it's all going to be something you love in the end - and you become insecure, thinking "oh gosh I cant be enjoying myself all the time I need to challenge myself."

I know this is just a splurge... but I'll end with what I started with - reading is no better then TV or games.

(just an fyi - I play lots of games, but read more then I play, yet if I am reading Steven King and not Robert Keohane then I count it as playtime.)

Alright, first things first. Escapist Parents = What Parents Should Be!

I'm only nineteen at the moment but can see myself being a father in the coming decade (hopefully not too soon). I understand first hand the need for parental management/supervision. While I was growing up, I was allowed to do basically whatever I wanted and since I was introduced to video games at a young age by my brothers, I spent most of my time playing video games/lazing about and only rarely went out to play with out kids that lived in the condominiums and as I grew up that time out grew less and less. This partly may be due to the fact that my old man (step-father who raised me) was in his late sixties at this time (he's closing in on eighty soon I think) and he didn't have the strength to be the kind of father that's needed now a days with all the distractions. My mother and biological father both passed while I was young which could also be a part of the reasons for my problems, but I don't like to blame it on that. Also, I was spoiled almost to the point of being a brat, but luckily close family friends took parental positions with me and managed to keep me, at least a little, disciplined. Frankly, I'm surprised I turned out the way I am, considering how spoiled/unsupervised I was.

Now that I'm as matured as I am now, I realize that the way I was raised was wrong for the most part and that I could've been served much better with some of the parental guides that have been talked about in this article and many of the posts that escapist parents use. I'll be sure to keep these things in mind and am going to send my significant other this article since she's much like me.

I think a lot of the "do as I say, not as I do" comes from the logic of not learning to drive until you pass your test.

The main thing as parents is to provide a very strong groundwork, and what they build on that is up to them.

So where as you could argue its hypocritical to impose regulations on your daughter and not fully them yourself - you have less a need to keep time spare for development. Your daughter is still building her foundations, you aren't and have a deeper understanding of when enough is enough (hopefully).

Or maybe you are not allowing her to play enough games. Take a look at this wonderful TED talk which takes an interesting look at the value of gaming:

http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html

Yes, there needs to be limits placed on any particular activity of a child. However, I think we need to be careful about placing limits based on outdated models. Does half an hour watching an educational show give more developmental value to a child than the same half an hour spent playing a video game and gaining the skills they provide? Maybe, or maybe not.

You seem to be doing the right things here and the fact that you agonize over them speaks well of your parenting philosophy. However, I agree with the person who said that kids, left to their own devices, will find a variety of things to do. The key is making sure the opportunities they have to entertain themselves are ones that provide some form of intellectual development. We may have to re-think what that means though.

Oh sweet media time... been there had that,although for me it was no gaming during the week, but I got to watch TV (But not before 6 in the evening)

The difference between a child and an adult is that the adult has had the possibility to figure out what he or she likes to do, through being forced to try out different things. How else can we know what we enjoy if all we do is one thing?

But a child most likely will choose the one thing (s)he finds the most fun, and do a lot of that.

So by imposing media time, or other restrictions, you guide the child to figure out that there are other things to do in life.
And as said in the article the child learns the value of his or hers time... and time is probably a key word here.

Children have a lot of time available to them, so they will have the time to do more than just one thing a day. While adults might only have a few hours of "me time" a day, and wants to fill that time with whatever entertainment (s)he finds the most compelling.

What I suggest doing is letting the child gain more media time as (s)he grows older, so that the child sees that the reason mommy and daddy can play more games, is because they are older.

This is a very interesting article, as it covers a topic I've thought about considerably.

First things first though, media time needs to be defined as it is such a broad spectrum:
Productive time in front of a screen is OK, thats active construtive time. It includes anything remotely educational, my classic example is perusing online sites regarding language acquisition.

Games, general browsing, television (perhaps even non-challenging books) are passive consumption. Novels technically would be too, but given they don't have the "staring into a lightbulb hypnotism" effect given by a screen, I'm going to let them slide into an intermediate category and get an exception, provided they're either challenging or don't become an obsession.

The idea of literally buying a loud little timer-alarm specifically for the sake of limiting my passive time per day has been something I've been toying with for a fair few months now. Pretty much since Tae Kim raised it in his blog a whiles back (worth searching out his post and the one he references). I'm young...ish...ish...kinda, I carry around with me from country to country a musical instrument I rarely try to play, I take photos for specific reasons and never arrange them nor do anything with them, I neglect shit, but I don't have children and I don't have the worries the author'd have. Yet I worry that this may be something that everyone needs to consider.

Choose a passive allowance per day (2 hrs, 4 on weekends was my idea). Maybe even pair up with a close friend you trust, and occasionally keep tabs on each other. Yeah, you could tell your buddy you kept to your allowance if you didn't, but if you truly pick someone you trust, you wouldn't lie to them or if they're a close friend (and you're not a con artist by profession) they'd be able to see through YOUR half arsed lies anyway and give you that right slap over the back of the head well deserved. As you could to them. >:D

I do both reading and playing.

I read on my way to school, 45/30 minutes of bus time, I read on the way home 45/90 minutes of bus, when I go on the Internet when I get home, normally 3, to well...A while. Then occasionally when I go to sleep, 15/30 minutes.

All in all, I find myself reading MORE then before I played video games. Back then I was screwed to the TV, doing nothing to nurture my brain. Even video games nurture your brain, as well as reading, and I enjoy it a lot more.

I disagree with combing your child to like only one thing, its unfair to a child and kinda poor of you to only subject your child one type of thing in our world. Why not let them do anything they want? What if they really don't like anime, or pokemon? What if she loves playing sports? Do you give her tons of choices to play with so that she may choose to perhaps one day play more with the soccer ball then the d-20. perhaps because I am not a parent but denying your kid the ability to choose whether or not she wants to be a geek is sorta sad.

Also I think that the more freedom thing to choose how long you play or how much candy you eat (to a degree) is a good thing. My mother raised us with a sweets and such all around and after awhile we just stopped eating them, same with tv and games. We would play but since me and my sister learned to impose our own rules and restrictions on our selves we grew up healthy and experienced everything we could because their wasn't any arbitrary rules set up to restrict our selves. We learned our lessons the hard way, too much candy equals throwing up, too much tv means a day wasted and burnt out eyes.

I remember when i had media time or game time as we called it. It was horrible... Cause I had nothing to do when I had played those 2 hours. I has always been before or at the same stage as any one else in school with out trying, so i didn't want to spend all my time studying about things i already knew, and we lived in a village outside the town we "lived in" and there was no kids in the same age as me in the village, I was to young to go into the town by my self etc. I actually have no idea what i did all time I didn't play games in that part of my life, I guess i where just bored, or maybe i fell in coma some hours every day...

Quite interesting, I'm not a parent, so I really don't know the true responsibilities that a parent has with his/her children.

My godfather is the very definition of geek and he simply can't stop comparing every shooter he gets on his hands to Duke Nukem 3D and he, somehow, always comes up to the conclusion that Duke is better than any of today's shooters... I higly question that statement from him, but I still highly respect him.

He's a bit of an hypocritical parent, he has 3 children now (1 guy, 2 girls), the oldest (my nephew) has 6 or 7 years old and, despite his draconian intentions of not letting him to "love" videogames, he simply loves his games.

When my nephew comes to my house, he always rush off to see me and get him to play something, that's not a lot of problem for me, my godfather, despite his strictness with my nephew, lets him play Crysis, Call of Duty 4 and his newly discovered love for Duke Nukem 3D, so violent games aren't a problem. Even if he plays the most violent games, he's still a very compassionate kid, even more compassion than I could ever have. Although I sometimes let him play older games to get him a better appreciation for gaming in general, be it N64 games, SNES games and even NES games (we have lots of fun playing Battletoads, although he always get stuck in the flyng carts part)

At his house, it's a very different story, he can play whatever he wants (if his crappy PC can play it) and if he gets lucky, he can play on my godfather's PC. But he has a very limited time frame of gaming and, like the article says, he plays or watches tv as much as he can.

Sometimes, I remember something my sister said like 10 years ago, when she recently married, in a reunion, her friend went with her little son, and I letted him play with my GBA, then I overheard my sister saying "hopefully you do not like those videogames". Now, 10 years later, she lets her kid (my nephew) play videogames and she's even planning on buying a Nintendo DS for his birthday.

And kudos for slaying the "ugly guy with boobs".

Sneaklemming:
What is this preoccupation with books that people go on about. Theyre no better for your brain then a HBO miniseries.

It's all so silly you know. Entertainment is entertainment. If you want to challenge yourself dont just "read a book".

Do you not realise how silly that sounds?

If you want to challenge yourself, you need to learn more stuff. Not wage a battle vs screens and paper.

Reading is one of MANY ways to learn new things - academic things. Doing also works. Try taking up a new hobby - lets see how much reading you do... unless its a bookclub or sometime.

The problem in the end is that it's all going to be something you love in the end - and you become insecure, thinking "oh gosh I cant be enjoying myself all the time I need to challenge myself."

I know this is just a splurge... but I'll end with what I started with - reading is no better then TV or games.

(just an fyi - I play lots of games, but read more then I play, yet if I am reading Steven King and not Robert Keohane then I count it as playtime.)

This was going through my head before you typed it.

Touching and quite interesting article. As I am myself planning to raise a geek, it is interesting to read of others who have the same dream.

You make me feel like I'd be a terrible parent. Fortunately, I'm nowhere near considering anything like that at the moment.

Personally I don't see the hypocrisy. Kids need to learn that life is often arbitrary, and ruled by deadlines and protocol.

Childhood = 16 years
Working/Senior HS/Uni (most probably a combo of the two) = 16 - 25
Working life 26-70
FREEDOM (I mean, retirement) 70+

The best you can do is not seem unfairly draconian in your countermands. But as for reading ... ahh .. yeah. I think it's of critical importance.

Especially when they are young. Try to find a subject he kid loves and then entice her with books. My dad found that I *loved* Classical Greek tragedies and works by authors during imperial Rome.

Ancient Heroes ... famous campaigns. It had everything. It's probably the best way to get a child into reading is to inundate them in what they love. Reading is reading, doesn't really what the subject as long as the material is 'deep' enough to continue to challenge the thoughts and perceptions of the child.

There's so much bullshit cliché getting spewed around here it makes me sick.

I think what is missed is that we EARN the chance to rot our brains. As a parent you have a duty to prevent harm to your child. As an adult you have no straight out duty to yourself - even to protect yourself from harm.

So, for me, I am not worried about games I play or how it affects me, but rather the message I might be sending.

I would rather show my children moderation, especially with things I love.

Hmm... You just made a 3 page column. Doesn't exactly make you a good role model. Encouraging people around the world to spend time reading the article. As for the "Raising a Child" thing... I'm 17 so i have no idea and i don't want an idea in at least 6 more years.

Mur Lafferty:
Hypocritical Mommy

Any self-respecting parent usually limits the TV and gaming time of spawn in the early years of their lifecycle. Mur Lafferty wonders if the limits that she places on her own geek daughter have merit for her own intellectual development.

Read Full Article

Your a better parent than most I know.

Very interesting article! I want to have kids and I'll be out of college soon and into the real world soon enough.

I feel like kids need restrictions because some of them don't know when too much is too much. I remember being that way when I was little, I wanted more spaghetti than my tummy could handle, I ate too much and got sick. I learned a lesson, that's for sure.

Sadly, it's hard for a kid to tell when too much TV, DS, Computer and other media devices is too much. That's what a parent is for.
As an adult, I can say "Hey, I've been sitting here too long, time to go exercise". There's even days when I say "OK, no games today, it's outside day".

I do think when I have kids that I will be playing games a little less games, as will my boyfriend. We've already talked about having boundaries set for having a kid.

I'd be in agreement with most of it, tho I'd say not to feel guilty that you get more 'fun time' than your kids, as I see it as a reward for responsibility, after all, kids get pocket money for doing chores, or pay for having a paper round, you work to bring in the money to run the house, along with running the house in all the other ways, therefore you 'buy' yourself more leisure time. Just the way I see it.

It could be explained in that way to the kid when they're old enough to take on the concept.

'Sure you can play another hour, go spend half an hour doing the washing up, or folding laundry, or walking the dog, and you earn an hour's game time.'

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