An Old School Antidote to Screen Time


Like most parents, my husband and I worry about the barrage of media our three children are exposed to every day, and we struggle to set limits. We don't own a Wii, an Xbox, or any other big video game system. With only one TV in the house and a very short list of interactive websites that the kids are allowed to visit on our shared computer, these are some severely deprived children.

Just ask them.

My oldest daughter, Didi, 9, did manage to save her own money to buy an iPod Touch, but according to her, the half dozen games she owns have gotten boring (but sadly, she needs to come up with the cash herself if she wants to add more.)

Swimming against the tide isn't easy, especially when other parents rave about the benefits of Wii Fit, and even scientific studies claim that video games make kids smarter. I know and I don't care. I don't want one more device in my home that requires parental supervision, period.

So, imagine my surprise when, out of the blue, Didi recently asked for a game that we were willing to buy: an old-fashioned game of Monopoly, which she'd tried out at school. As soon as we broke the seal on the box, the kids transformed into obsessive little real estate tycoons, devoting every spare moment since to mastering the game.

Monopoly has turned out to be the perfect learning activity for my second and third graders. The game demands that they practice their reading and math skills, master new vocabulary like "inheritance" and "utilities," and negotiate peacefully with one another. Not that they care, of course. From the kids' point of view, Monopoly is all about the fantasy: going to jail; buying a railroad; building a hotel; and amassing a small fortune, which they would gladly blow on Cheetos, Pepsi, and video games, if only their parents weren't so mean.

3 comments:

  1. That rocks! We're the same way here - and to be honest we just got our first iphone I was so against having ANOTHER piece of technology in the house, and it's been a bit of a pain because the older cousins have taught our kids that iphones have video games and youtube. So...usually we stick to the old fashion fun like bike riding and board games :) Monopoly is still a little tricky, but someday it'll be top of our list too I bet!

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  2. Hi Sarah,

    Yes, the iPhones are dangerous, though my 7 year old loves to use it to record herself singing, just like I used to do with a clunky tape recorder. So far we've avoided You Tube; we disabled the internet connection on my daughter's iPod to keep the internet at bay for now.

    Thanks for reading.

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  3. This fall we started doing Family Game Night every Saturday. Our girls love it and so do we! They are only five & six, but we play all adult games. No Candy Land allowed. It is a wonderful experience.

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