Are my Skylanders making me grumpy? Screen time limits for children.

By The Bug

I have a problem with my mother. She accuses me of being grumpy, hankers after this boy I apparently used to be – always up for any suggestion, cheerful, happy, ‘sunny’ whatever that means. Now she calls me Victor Meldrew and tells me off for the look on my face.

The problem is, I’m not grumpy at all, and once I get to the park/supermarket/bike trail/book shop, I’m full-on into it, asking questions, enjoying the sights, laughing at a game. It’s just that I like to put on a teenager face whenever I’m asked to leave the house. Especially if I’ve been playing the Wii.

For Christmas I asked for Skylanders Swap Force characters. And I got them. My uncle gave me Grilla Driller, my Granny gave me Roller Brawl, and Santa sent a very nice note of apology for not managing to get Countdown (apparently he’s not been released yet – I thought Santa had magic powers??), instead gifting me Fire Kraken.

Here is me, showing you how to create a multitude of extra characters, just by swapping half of Fire Kraken for half of another Swap Force character:

See? Not grumpy at all. In fact, engaging, articulate, and fairly with it as far as navigation of the game is concerned. So my question is this: what is all the fuss about screen time? Why is there such a big focus on imposing screen time limits for children? I play when I feel like it, when I have nothing better to do, picking up motor skills and tactical thinking along the way. And when I’m busy with something more interesting I can totally neglect my Skylanders for days at a time!

Do children need screen time limits?

So where does the grumpiness come from? Mummy has been keeping an eye on my screen time (not imposing limits, just monitoring), and has declared it to be the amount of time in one stretch that is significant. There have been times – not often – when she has had a work deadline, or been distracted, and I’ve been left to my own devices on the Wii for 2-3 hours. Those are the sessions which see me slouch away from the screen, glassy-eyed and moody. The next few hours are the ones when I can’t seem to think of anything to do but whine.

So it’s not about the overall screen time; my moodiness stems from the ‘caged animal’ effect of being glued to a screen for too long in one go. There is a post on Frugal Family this week about why screen time limits don’t work, and another one about how a screen-free day improved family life, on 3 Children and It. Both writers talk about the need to organise and motivate the children to engage in non-screen related activities. Both remark on how worthwhile that feels, when their children readily find other pursuits, and spend time with their families. Both point out that it was easier than they thought it would be.

So, what’s your take on screen time limits? Is a regular dose of Skylanders okay, provided it’s in short bursts? Or do you have strict rules on when children can use the electricals?

Disclosure: we were given our Skylanders SWAP Force Fire Kraken by Santa.

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