My daughter Lainey is five years old and I love her. All she wants to do lately is play video games.
Lainey got home from school and went straight for the iPod.
"Can I play Angry Birds?" Lainey asked.
She attempted a few rounds of the game, and then hit a link that directed her to weird Angry Bird cartoons on YouTube.
"What is that noise?" I asked.
"Angry Birds Movie," she smiled.
"No," I said. "If you’re going to watch cartoons, watch something educational."
She turned on the TV and watched "Dinosaur Train," a program on PBS. When the episode ended, she turned the television off and ran to the laptop computer.
"Dad," Lainey said, “how do I get to PBS kids dot 'ord?'"
"It’s 'org,'" I sighed. "Alright. Just for a little bit."
I typed in the web address and she played a matching game that paired dinosaur feet with their muddy footprint. Once she tired of that game, Lainey navigated back to the PBS homepage, dove into other shows’ pages, browsed through with precision and found more games to play.
This kid is addicted to technology. She would click on windows for hours if I didn’t intervene. Moderation is key, yet I questioned when to stop her. Computers aren’t going anywhere and her browsing skills will be useful. I just worry what happens when she learns to leave the safe sites like PBS. I didn’t surf the Internet till college, long after losing my innocence.
“That’s enough computer, Lainey,” I said. “Want to play or something?”
“I know!” Lainey exclaimed. “Let’s go downstairs and play Wii!”
There’s no escape.
That night I mentioned the topic to my wife. We sat on the couch while she nursed and I checked my email. My wife spoke in great detail about the abundance of versus parenting.
“You’re not even listening!” dhe exclaimed. “Angry Birds, Ryan?”
Forgot to mention. I’m hooked too. Big time.
“Let me play when you’re done,” my wife smiled.