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Summer Media

In these early days of summer, the kids have been getting up (late) and bee-lining it straight to the TV.  Not even asking us, they'll put on a show, a movie, something else to watch.  Usually, it is of the mindless variety.  So I ask: is there a high-media trend in your household now that "summer vacation" is here?  Will it continue?  Will you renegotiate terms and differentiate summer usage versus school-in-session usage?


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I let this go for a week (in our family, it's more about computer/ipad usage than TV, but there's no substantive difference). Now we have a new system for the kids and for me, since I tend to be a couch potato, too. Before any screen time, certain prerequisites have to be met. The criteria are different for each person (for example, my daughter's list has "practice multiplication" while my son's has "get exercise"). They aren't long lists, and they aren't exactly daily requirements, since if someone really wants to veg out, they can still do that. But they'll have to do it with a book.

There was much moaning and wailing from the teenager when this started on Thursday. We'll see how long I'm able to make it work.

We are holding out, not every day, still plenty of nagging. I am hoping we can go play at a park when they get that I need screen time sound in their voices- all summer long. Waiting 5 or 6 days to see the same thing they like to watch doesn't seem so impossible... I wish I could have them work from a list to earn it, too young to care about that life skill :(

Mine will always go to screen time as early in the day as possible... I have decided it 'gets it out of the way' and then afterwards things can begin. Haven't gone for extra use yet... but if so, it would only be on certain days and not all.

Last week I realized, to my shock, horror, and wonder, that I'd let 4 hours (HOURS) of "Shawn the Sheep" and "Timmy Time" slip by me. Oooooops. Backtracking now...going for the honest: "mommy was really tired and dozy and didn't realize, gosh, how time was just passing by the other day..."
The almost-4-yr-old is furious, but the 8-yr-old is fine with the limits.

We also let it go for about a week (last week). It was sort of "justified" since all of us were sick with colds. Sorry, but when I have a bad cold and the kids have bad colds, I just don't care how much tv they watch!

I am getting everyone back on schedule this week. Again, this isn't so hard because I go back to work, the littlest goes back to preschool, and the older on has camps. These mornings are a little more relaxed than school mornings during the year, but I still see no reason why the go-to for boredom has to be the screen. Honestly, I think it's an American affliction for all ages. I am trying to impress upon my kids that there are other ways to "veg out" than watch TV. I think it's an under-developed skill in most of us, since we have such free access to media, and I think the impacts on our society are serious.

And, as far as I am concerned, kids should be outside practically all day long in the summer, anyway.

I just don't really worry about it. We've already been so enjoying being less scheduled, relaxing (though work was demanding for ME last week), gossiping and watching movies together that I really just can't get worked up.

Since we're also almost daily accomplishing something (deep cleaning her room, donating a ton of old clothes, reorganizing desk drawers), I can't see the point of getting all upset about how much TV she watches or bizarre manga she reads online.

screen time is addictive and it is wise, in my opinion, to limit it. Just say no.


a) cite your source
b) since I assume you mean the now more commonly used "habit forming", obviously you mean psychologically (an example of physically habit forming would be heroin). What are the ramifications? Plenty of us stare at a screen all day for work, what are the ill effects?

Most of the evidence is still vague and inconclusive---plus it appears to be more about the content that the amount. For example, obviously Grand Theft Auto is going to be less than positive---however, a show like "Walking with Pre-Historic Beasts" would enrich and inform your child.

Like everything else, there's no need to worry so obsessively, your kids are probably fine.

Oh lastly: my best friend's daughters are thoroughly addicted to texting on their phones. Personally, I think it's quite rude and I wouldn't permit my kid to do it, but they aren't my kids. Guess what else? They're also accomplished musicians, previously played sports and one just graduated second in her class. She'll be studying architecture at college. Their screen time was never, ever limited.

It's a bummer that the community thread element of this site has deteriorated. I used to love to come here to read (often while nursing in the middle of the night) about other parents ideas, experiences, and perspectives but now pretty much every discussion gets dominated then killed by this negative, opinionated person Zumpie. She's really found her soapbox.

I'm digressing .. my point is that though I totally get that the urbanmams founders have busy lives and other priorities, I miss the lively, vibrant discussion threads that used to go on here. It's still a great resource and full of content and I always direct new moms/Portlanders to the site.

Why would a dissenting opinion upset you so? It's hardly "open and free" if someone presenting (with supporting evidence) a differing view is demonized for it. Actually conformity on that level would be more akin to the tyranny espoused by the far right.

I'll assume you don't wish to force your beliefs on others....or am I mistaken?

I agree with PDX Parent. The site has changed, and there is less lively discussion. Frankly, I think people are afraid to post because they don't want to feel attacked by some people with a track record of posting pointed and sometimes mean arguments in response to every viewpoint that is not their own. It's fine to respectfully disagree, but the constant "I'm right, your wrong" is tiring.

Second, as with all things, moderation is key. Two of my three kids are not affected by screen time. The other one gets extremely moody when she has too much screen time. For the benefit of the entire family, we thus try to keep them engaged in other things. But, I do slide a bit in the summer because I work from home. Screen time for the kids means that I can participate in work conference calls and get my work tasks done during daylight hours.

And that would be "one man's meat...". Again, I notice "lively discussion" means "largely agrees with consensus viewpoint" and "I'm right, you're wrong" means "has a differing viewpoint that's supported with facts, not hearsay".

For the record, there's a fair amount of this on other blogs, too----and I don't mean just directed at yours truly. For example, scarymommy.com has a tendency towards "my kids are in my way and harshing my mellow" (also many pieces get into that creepy mother-boy thing). Recently, several posters pointed out some negatives in this and were smacked really, really hard.

Again, just because someone holds a differing point of view and asks that you support your assertions with facts instead of "what you heard", doesn't make them mean. And free thinking is a good thing. Or at least I hope most people still think that. If differing opinions aren't welcome, they shouldn't be asked for

It's not the dissenting opinion, Zumpie. We've had plenty of that over the years. It's your tone. Sometimes it's difficult to know how we come across to others and (giving you the benefit of the doubt) I'm going to assume that's what's going on. I don't disagree with many of your positions. But pdx parent is right about the effect of the way they're presented.

Hmm, we'll agree to disagree, then. BTW----I've seen (and been addressed by) plenty of snottiness here, well before I ever started posting. I will say that it also might well be the difference between coasts and cultures. Portland has a tendency towards the "Northwest chill" and a sort of milk and water icy faux politeness.

I do notice snark is generally not as well received here and again, for all its protests to the contrary, it really IS astoundingly conformist. And for the record, it isn't about progressive versus conservative, either...my favorite blogs are fairly far left political ones--they're also potty mouthed and bitingly sarcastic.

Not to mention, I seem to recall some of the same people discussing my "tone" getting VERY worked up, impatient and personally insulting to one another over the whole fluoride thing.... :-) (which while I supported it, I certainly had bigger fish to fry). Just sayin'

Zumpie, you seem to have well researched and intelligent opinions and I admire all the time and effort you put into your many posts. You are clearly accomplished and have worked hard for the achievements you list at every opportunity. But you seem to have a thinly veiled contempt for Portland and "Portland style parenting" and I wonder why you bother to comment on this blog at all? If it is a game to you to come on a parenting blog, where people are earnestly looking for support and positive community,and pick people and their opinions apart in a demeaning and condescending way (complete with bullet points) please go play somewhere else. I've looked your name up and read some of your posts on other blogs. I've read a post by you bragging about how you put the smackdown on the silly hippie moms over on Urbanmamas. I'm guessing that due to the dwindling posts and comments (most of them made by you) that you've done a really good job of smacking everyone down.

Actually, I think I've also mentioned smacking down preppers (hard) on this very blog---but I don't think "putting the smack down on hippie moms" was QUITE the way I put it. Additionally, REALLY wasn't aware that "first rule of urban mamas isn't to talk about urban mamas". And while I take your point, it's a bit stalkerish, don't you think?

I suspect dwindling participation (and again, it was certainly active enough during fluoride) could be attributed to any number of causes: more mommy blogs, kids aging out of the target, with the economy "improving" more moms going back to work and thus having less time, etc. It might even be that there's a lot less content, actual posting and new ideas on this blog.

If anything, I'm sort of bizarrely flattered that you'd give me that much power---I can't possibly imagine I'm that influential!

BTW, it is true that I think "typical" Portland parenting veers into an area I'm impatient with----BUT I think a lot of modern parenting does (though I'm hardly flawless in that arena). I'm still not sure why, since you admit that typically my opinions are well researched and reasoned that it offends so much?

Also, I can think of plenty of times that I'VE been the one supporting a poster and others have criticized them.

I think it's possible that people would rather not post on a topic (including the UM founders)than be instantly asked to cite their sources and have it insinuated that their life experience is not valid because it doesn't fit into your worldview. Use your power for good Zumpie and try to see the world through the eyes of other people. And yes, Googling (Googleing?) Zumpie was a little stalkerish. I kind of regretted putting that bit in.

It's not "dissenting opinions" that have turned me off to reading the posts, it's the dominance of this one particular voice. The voice of someone whose sole aim seems to be to dissent. The command to "cite your sources" was what caused me to finally comment on this. This is not a scientific journal and all you can really expect to learn here is others' experiences and perspectives. And, Zumpie, your "sources" tend to be lengthy anecdotes from your own life - hardly scientific either. Anyway, I don't expect to change your mind here, I don't believe you come here to learn from or support others, but more to inject your opinions to every possible thread. Have you considered just starting your own blog?

This site has turned more into debate than support, but there are some good support sites out there for Portland parents who prefer intelligent discussion vs. "omg, why are you even asking that question. When I'm parenting my only child it is hardly a problem at all."

There isn't a change in media for my preschooler this summer. He's limited to about an hour a week due to the drastic behavior issues that occurs after media use. No study necessary for me to determine that media equals the devil for my kid.

I learned from other moms before I became one. I saw how much time they were spending on this issue, how deeply unhappy their children were when denied screen time. I thought about how much of my family life I wanted to spend negotiating over TV or computer games. The answer was zero. After that, I saw I had two options, and I chose one of them.

Zinemama's post is worth reading twice. Or more.

We limit screen time. Most days there's no screen time, occasionally some but never violent, mostly sports. Before they were 3 there was no screen time. It's never been an issue. There's never been a fight about it. There are too many more exciting things to do. While the kids might learn something from TV/computers, they learn more from doing, exploring, reading, and playing. Right now my son (6) is reading Greek mythology and my daughter (4) is tending her vegetable garden.

The only fights we ever had were about transitions... whether it was 20 minutes or 2 hours, there still would have been the same transition issue. We had to pick the amount of time that worked for us. Having unlimited time did not work for us. I hear many stories of kids who would do a lot for a while then get bored and move on to other things, but it didn't happen that way for us. Kids are individual and while some may do well with that, others do well with 'this is your time to use'. The amount of time could even change, it's just the idea of 'there is going to be time for screens and time for other things' that has been good for us.

Our media pickle:
Older kid: only teensy bits of media until age 7. Learned self-regulating/limiting, asking/negotiating, and viewing w/a critical eye. Has free rein with one huge exception (Top Gear, but that just takes one "ok honey, enough of the Lambo"). (Heh heh, also the kid who could take/leave the Halloween/Easter/etc candy)
Younger kid: obsessed, whiny, freaky, glazed-eyes, horrid post-media behavior, etcetcetc. (Not so heh heh: also the kid who would inhale entire candy aisle of Costco) OK, so barely 4 yrs old; that's young. I'll never know, will I (sigh), if it was delay in #1s exposure to media that helped him not obsess, or if it's just a brain difference...

Oh: Moderators: I no longer recommend UrbanMamas or rave about this site.


20% because I'm not a first-time mamma anymore, and I don't need infant and early childhood support, stories, anecdotes, pleas for help, nanny/preschool recommendations to get me through the night.

80% because I enjoy getting my weekly dose of polemics other ways. (That's a polite way of putting it.)

Thank you, Two Kids. You said it well. I'm hoping for a UM comeback! Moderators, can you check in and please help out the tone here? Thanks!

Love spottie's point a few posts up about how kids are individuals and what works just great for one is a disaster for another. I love to hear how this plays out for families and what approaches they come up with--more tools for my toolbox to take out and try when I'm frustrated or puzzled by a situation.

And that's why I started coming to this site. It was a great place to read about other parents' experiences and think "hmmm, that wouldn't work for my kid" or "wow, maybe that's the approach to fixing my daughter's bedtime routine." No one was telling me that there was one right way to do this extremely complicated thing we call parenting. Lots of posters were, in fact, acknowledging that parenting IS complicated and difficult and scary. And wonderful, too.

People don't usually post things I disagree with here. How can I disagree with someone who is sharing her personal experience? How rude would it be if I were disrespectful toward someone who took the time to type up their viewpoint/advice/story? If someone says something I don't find helpful, I can just ignore it or move on. If someone posts something confusing, I can respond and ask questions. It has been a really good community to participate in.

It's not fun to see this deteriorate into a constant back and forth with just one person. Sad, really.

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