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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Is the iPad iBad?

by Saint Mark (bio)

I have a neighbor with kids the same ages as my sons (6 and 4). They are good kids and the family is upbeat, friendly, and the type of neighbors you would dream to have. However, since the time we moved in next door to them, I have never seen the son without a Gameboy-type of device in his hands. For four months, throughout the summer and into fall, while his siblings ran and played in their amusement park of a backyard, he would sit under a tree and play his video games. My oldest son inevitably would be sucked into the video game with my neighbor's son instead of running through the fountain, playing on the gigantic swing set or doing any other fun and healthy activity that kids do in the summer.

Now, my oldest son loves video games as much as the next kid. But, I didn't want my son to waste his summer and the perfect Colorado weather staring at a screen and throwing angry birds at flimsy structures. So, I limited the time my sons played with my neighbor's sons. This was a sad choice for me because I could see the benefit of neighbor-friends for my kids. But, I feel that my neighbor's son was addicted to the handheld device and my neighbor was not doing much to halt it. In casual conversation the topic of video games came up and I shared with him what we do in our family to limit "screen" time. He heard me but it didn't seem to change his actions or his son's addiction.

Then, a few weeks ago, my neighbor and I were visiting and he told me his feelings about the iDevice. He told me how it frustrated him that his kid was so addicted to it. He then shared how he became so frustrated that he finally threw the electronic gadget into the trash! I know this is extreme, but the relief on this father's face was more valuable than an iPad, a Nintendo DS, an iPhone, or whatever other handheld game player device is being unabashedly marketed to us and our children.

Sadly, my neighbor didn't feel as though there was any other option than throwing away the electronic toy. Today, I saw this video clip of a talk by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He gives some sage advice that my friend could have used:

How do you limit the screen time of your chidren? Of yourself? Do you even feel as though it is important to limit screen time since the world is going digital?

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