Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Game on

I think it has been well documented here that Fergus is very rarely still. He moves about when he sleeps and when he eats, he runs most of the time instead of walking and usually he kung fus his way from living room to kitchen. The exception is when he is watching a movie, playing a video game or working in Club Penguin, Webkinz, etc on the computer, as then he is generally in one place (also: on the potty... but that’s a subject for a separate post!).

His “screen time” (hate that term) kinda grounds him/ gives him time to recharge. Though we guide him of course, he mainly figures out for himself when he needs to do what. Just like how our kids will consume candy and cereal one day and plates of fruit and veg the next, they flip from sedentary to active not necessarily on a daily basis but as their bodies inform them over the course of a longer period of time.

So I suppose, given their erratic schedules, our kids fall in the category of 88% of children and youth who are not meeting Canada’s guidelines of 90 minutes of physical activity a day. This stat comes from an Active Healthy Kids report released today - predictably labelled a Report Card on Physical Activity - in which they give Screen Time an “F”. The report indicates that Canadian youth are accumulating 6 to 7 hours of screen time per day and that high screen time is associated with reduced academic achievement and high-risk behaviours such as smoking, drinking and sexual intercourse!?!!?!?!?!

The report goes on to list a number of ways to rectify the “screen time problem” including having parents implement household rules and removing TVs and computers from a children’s bedroom. The last one is especially funny since Effie finally got her own room just this past week... a room that comes with a tv and a computer.

Screen Time is but one of twenty key areas that received crappy marks in the report. For example, schools are reprimanded for not actually implementing their physical activity policies and the federal government gets a failing mark for an inadequate level of financial investment. But of course, what made the news headlines? Screen time and video gaming in particular!

I’m happy to say that I enjoy Fergus’ love of video games, though he’s not exactly passionate about it (yet). Interestingly, I could say the same thing about his enjoyment of soccer, rollerblading, hide-n-seek, sawing trees... Ferg has been building his own levels in Smash Brothers lately. It’s really cool to see him doing this and although he seems far more interested in the making than in the playing, his creativity produces some interesting and challenging courses. He gained some level-building experience in Little Big Planet, back before Mitchel and KJ moved to silicone valley and of course now he’s saving up for the appropriate LBP supporting gaming system (ps3). Meanwhile, he played his first game of Halo recently up at MattSamandNoah’s!

Anyway, I’m not really trying to defend our activities so much as to highlight how, once again, blanket statements like “limit screen time” get fed to society as the gospel truth. Although, I guess if you sit at a desk all day you do need some rules to help guide you... barump-pump!

All this is just an excuse to link to some more positive commentary on gaming from Kelli. Yeah, computers and gaming sure screwed her family up! Clicky Clicky.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

It's seems rather sad (and artificial) that kids have to be mandated to 'move' for 90 minutes a day.

Of course, they mention 6 to 7 hours of "screen time" as a factor, but they don't talk a lot about the 5 to 6 hours of "sit-on-your-butt time" most kids endure every school day. (Yeah, and good luck on schools implementing 90 minutes of movement a day.)

Kids learning at home have a lot more freedom to move when their bodies tell them.

For my kid, gaming is a full-contact sport. He rarely sits still when playing a console game, so I'm really not worried.

Great post, C.