I saw some hand held video games in the store the other day. Nothing new about that. What was new about them were the characters: Thomas the Train and Wow Wow Wubbzy. Yeah, preschool characters. On hand held video games. For children as young as three. Kids three years of age are known as toddlers. These were video games for toddlers. You’ve got to be kidding me. I have a three-year-old daughter. Sure, she’s fascinated by my computer and wants in on the action when she sees her elder brother playing a game on the computer. But do I really want her to actually play the games? Um, hello? Are we seriously asking this question?
You actually expect a child that can barely fasten a button or a snap to exercise the proper hand-eye coordination to control a video game? And not just a joystick, but multiple buttons operated by both hands simultaneously? Surprisingly (to me, anyway), the majority of respondents in a recent MSNBC survey said they were comfortable letting their children as young as two play video games. Sorry. Call me the minority. I think it’s an expensive lesson in how to get your child frustrated. I’m not going to spend ten dollars (or more in some cases) on an electronic device that will do nothing more than frustrate my child and go through batteries like there’s no tomorrow. I’d rather spend my money on a set of cooking toys that I can play with with my child.
Dr. Stanley Greenspan, a child psychiatrist at George Washington University, recommends no more than 30 minutes per day of screen time for children ages two-and-a-half to four. It doesn’t matter if the screen is a television screen, a computer monitor, or a video game screen. A screen is a screen is a screen. And your toddler doesn’t need to be in front of it or holding it.