It’s interesting the things that are frowned upon for a child to obsess over and the things that are considered holy.
Computers and TV are evil. Reading a lot used to be more frowned on (this article is a faint echo ( http://www.parents.com/kids/education/reading/reading-too-much/ ) where the notions of ‘okay books for their age’ and suggesting writing as a better outlet make me instinctively wince. Yet I can’t find anything when I google for “plays outside too much”, but surely there must be kids who are overbalanced in the direction of too much outside time or too much drawing of pictures (wtf do we do with all these doodles?).
So I had a ponder. Is this a core hypocrisy? Why would it be sane to ban TV for a child while still believing they could have a career as a director or actor, yet it sounds pretty inane to ban a kid from sports and expect them to play for the national team. As I started to write this, my aha moment was that it’s about their position as a consumer/producer. While outside, kids are generally producers, they are involved and create. While in a book, kids are generally consumers. Taking what I’ll coin as Grandmother’s Law (ie: everything is healthy in small doses), a healthy balance of consumer and producer makes sense. Only playing sports and not experiencing sports (both on TV or at a stadium) would be a limiting issue and should lead to the same kind of frowny faces from the external culture.
Consuming books is good, with writing books as a good outlet. Writing is an abused word, what it should be is creating books, especially as so few would actually write a book with pen and ink nowadays. [Mental note for the kids – encourage them to think up the synopsis for a book, multiple books in fact, encourage a series].
Same thing for video games. Play them, watch others play them, create the plots and ideas for them. N has as much fun playing scorched earth as he does drawing up designs for his replacement for it (if only my time/skills at game programming allowed for such to be created at the speed he demands). Similar for TV, though the over-commercialization of broadcast/cable TV makes that a dangerous space for other reasons (namely that your children are not the customer, they are the product). Encourage creation of synopsis for Toy Story 5 without blocking it with the pain of writing.
How to summarize this out-loud thinking?
There are two camps that are easy to fall into. The first is bringing up consumers – junkies of input with future lard arses and sheep like attitudes. This is what we fall into when we get lazy as parents. The other is bringing up producers – bull-headed obsessives with achievement addictions and a big shock awaiting them in the future (sorry ‘Timmy’, turns out your artwork is pathetic after all). This is what we fall into when we obsess about maximizing the value of their time by some arbitrary ‘Timmy did this today’ metric.
The trick of sprog raising appears to be balancing the experiencing and the doing.