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As a grandparent, as well as a developer of content for apps and online educational games, I often struggle with how much screen time is too much screen time when I’m in charge of four of my grandkids. My life would be easier if I let them have access to their games throughout our weekend or vacation trips together. After all, they’d be kept busy.
But there are so many other things to do. During the winter (and most of the spring where I live in Colorado), they sled down the big hill behind my house. We take long walks and go to the nearby nature center in the summer. In the fall, we count and listen to the elk bugling all around us. We play pool, poker, board games, cards, and air hockey. They do projects with art supplies and toilet paper and paper towel rolls I’ve saved. They’ve learned how to make chicken Kiev, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and all kinds of cookies. And each day we read for a while.
But they are drawn to their screen devices, and I must confess, so am I. I justify playing Free Cell or SpellTower by saying that it keeps my aging brain active. And, out of a desire to be able to fully concentrate on driving, I let them use their screen devices in the car.
But I wrestle with what they should be playing. I’ve banned anything that involves killing or explosions, in part because I can’t stand listening to the noise. I share my favorite educational games with them, which makes them want to play them too. We discuss our scores and the strategies we use. Granted, I want them to keep busy, but I want them to be busy learning. With the right games, I can justify the resulting peace and quiet, knowing that they are not wasting their time.
My advice to parents and grandparents—take the time to play games, such as those provided by Lingokids, yourself. You’ll discover how much fun the games are—and you’ll see how keeping young learners busy learning benefits everyone, including you!
Suzanne Barchers, EdD