Monday, October 3, 2011

Boys and Reading / Kids and Screens

I read an article once about how today's culture tells us that the only way to get boys to read is to give them super-simple reading materials with lots of gross-ness and icky-ness in order to keep their attention.  And yes, my son does enjoy the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.  The article went on to discuss how if we took away the video games and these other kinds of books, and replaced them all with the adventure classics, that boys would learn that there is much more to be had in the world of reading.

I have to say that I did not agree with 100% of what the article had to say, but the overall spirit of the article was spot-on.  Today's boys have been conditioned to believe that "boys don't read" or "reading is an activity primarily reserved for girls or girly boys."  These last couple of weeks, with Hunter expressing how much he enjoyed both Black Beauty and Robin Hood, have been great proof that boys can discover the enjoyment of reading a true adventure story.

I also think, as a separate but contributing issue, that kids in general spend way too much time in front of TV and video games.  With less allowable time in front of screens, kids are practically forced to utilize other, more creative, outlets; reading and creative play come to mind primarily.

I have never been a fan of lots of screen time for kids, but a couple of months ago, I decided I needed some type of system that was more objective for the kids than "No, you can't watch TV right now," but still limited the amount of time they spend in front of screens.  So I made "Screen Cards."  Each card is worth a half hour of TV/video game/computer time, and each kid gets a certain number of cards per week.  It's working out great!  I chose an amount of time per week that breaks down into what I consider an acceptable amount of time per day, and the kids get the freedom of making choices as far as using their cards and getting time to watch TV or play a video game.  Of course, there are a few rules: homework and chores have to be done before using cards, and I rarely - if ever - let them use more than 2 in a row without a break for their eyes.  

But overall, they are both learning a little something about conservation.  Hunter often uses his up with 2 or 3 days to go in the week, and Kaleigh often has quite a few cards left at the end of the week!


  1. I have never believed in sitting a kid in front of the tv and using it as a babysitter. That said, this week I had to do that in the mornings with our granddaughter who doesn't have a tv in her house. I let her watch Arthur, Cat in the Hat, and The Readers on PBS while I did household chores. By the time these three shows ended, she was ready to do other play things and grandma was ready to start the day.

  2. I'm glad that you give a pass to grandmas. I'm often scolded by my daughter for letting Leeya do certain things that I think are fine.