The Kids Can Go Online, As Long as Mom Can Snoop

Oct 05

Kudos to those parents out there who maintain a screen-free household.  I admire them, even if that admiration is tinged with resentment.  I’m sure that they would look down on a mother like me, who eventually succumbed to my kids’ relentless begging to play video games.  But based on the latest research on kids’ habits, there can’t be many families out there who are capable of shutting out the latest gaming technology.  Check out these facts from The NDP Group:

  • Kids are most likely to turn into more serious gamers between the ages of 6 and 8 years old, when their video game playing time increases dramatically.
  • 82% of kids in the U.S. between two and seventeen years old (55.7 million kids) are gamers, that is, they regularly play video games. 
  • Of these gamers, 9.7 million are between the ages of two and five years old, while 12.4 million are between nine and eleven years old.
  • Over half of all kid gamers play games online and are more inclined to be males between nine and fourteen years old.
  • With the advent of handheld devices, the ability to download entertainment from the internet is exploding.  Seventy-five percent of iPhone and iPod Touch users connect to the Web to download entertainment content and apps.  As more children come to own such devices, they will be increasingly exposed to internet content.

Raising kids in an electronic-free environment seems close to impossible when one considers these statistics.  And yes, that helps alleviate my guilt over buying my kids the latest Wii game so they can play for three hours straight in the basement (that’s only on special occasions, by the way), but more than that, it confirms my belief that parents can better serve their children by allowing them to grow comfortable with digital technology than by blocking it completely.  Whether we like it or not, our kids will grow up ever-connected to a screen.  My boys are still young enough to not be too bothered by  their snooping mom looking over their shoulders every time they go online.  They still recognize that I know more than them about the world and my advice is still welcome.  When they hit their teens, I’ll still know more than them, but they sure won’t believe that anymore. 

So, better they learn internet protocol from me (while they’re still young) than years later from some badass 13-year old who wants to show off the “coolest web sites” – as long as no teachers or parents are around.

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