Sunday, January 20, 2008

Parenting = Being A Kill-Joy

Timmy, who turned four last November, has recently developed a keen interest in using the computer. Both boys began using it consistently about two months ago, but Timmy's interest has deepened, while Daniel's has waned. Unless something domestic is involved, such as getting dressed or cleaning up, Timmy is very focused and determined. He will sit at the computer for ninety minutes at a time sometimes, not usually coming out unless he has to use the restroom.

Up until now, I decided to do nothing, thinking it was a phase that would pass. Why not let him enjoy it, I thought? He's very visual, he's doing mostly educational activities, and he's teaching himself to navigate around three different sites. He rarely asks for help, which I've found amazing. In fact, he has many times changed my desktop, leaving me stumped as I struggle to figure out what he fooled with. This only happens when he accidentally gets out of his program and he's trying to get back into it; obviously, he's got a high tolerance for frustration. Daniel usually just comes to get me when this happens, while Timmy will keep at it until he's hopelessly lost.

Back to my dilemma. Computer knowledge is absolutely necessary, and the field remains very lucrative. Timmy would do well in it due to his strong visual bent, his ability to remain focused for protracted times, and his logical thinking. But, there are days, after we're done with school, that all he wants to do is use the computer, rather than play imaginatively, building structures, creating with Playdoh, etc. What is a mother to do? I know he needs a balance of activities at his age, and he certainly shouldn't spend so much time sitting.

One of the worst things about parenting is having to rain on a child's parade, right when they've developed a passion for something, whether it be the computer, a certain food, or a creative, but too-rough, made-up game, or something new they're doing with their toys, that maybe isn't compatible with having a baby around. I hate it.

I haven't decided what to do yet, but there will obviously have to be limits imposed. I'm still mourning that I'm going to have to be a kill-joy. Just yesterday he climbed into my lap, put his arms around me and said, "Mommy, the computer is so fun!"

1 comment:

Betsy Shaw Mackenzie said...

I think it's okay to be concerned about the computer. While, yes, it seems to be the way of the future, I do believe it shouldn't replace the educational value of the natural world around us. Something about how it pulls us in, like a drug that's even more powerful than the desire for fresh air and sunshine, makes me wary. This article http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/159/
shows an interesting perspective on our society's obsession with technology.