After reading last week's NYTime's article about kids and media use, I've been pondering it and I decided to keep a media diary for my family. For a week. This is not a decision that has gone over well--Hubs asked testily if he should be the one to write down MY media use, to keep me honest. My reaction (what? no way! this is my project) made me realize what a touchy thing it is to record the habits of somebody else. So I want to emphasize that I'm not doing this, or I'm trying not to do this, with a moralistic purpose in mind. I'm not saying any particular level of use is Good or Bad (parental statements I've made in the past to the contrary). I'm really just trying to see how we use media, as a family.
So. Here goes.
Note: I'm not counting media use during work or school hours.
Friday - Family gets home around five. Everyone is hungry and tired. There's immediately a fight over who gets to use the TV in the fireplace room, which is centrally located. Silas wants to play Wii Lego Batman; Helen wants to watch Hannah Montana. I say that they need to work out a mutually agreeable arrangement or no one gets to use it at all. Tears, etc., until Helen decides she wants to help me make lemon pudding (a total bust, BTW). Silas plays Wii until dinner. After dinner Helen puts in the Hannah Montana movie and we all watch--Hubs and I both expect to be appalled and are not. After the movie I check a post I made on the internet, and maybe breeze by a couple of the blogs I like to read to see if there are any updates. I read to the kids (is that media use? It IS, but not according to the study reported on by the Times), and then they both go to sleep listening to music (again, media use?) After the kids are in bed Hubs watches some TV.
Saturday - I turn on the computer first thing, to check my email and to get closer to my weekend goal of getting my (depressingly small) retirement accounts moved into a single company. Browse a bit. After breakfast, Si plays Wii for his regulation two hours. Helen goes to a birthday party. Hubs does some internet stuff and later watches TV (pro bullriding, which we both find fascinating). Everyone checks in with the TV periodically, but no one is plastered to it doing nothing else. Si has a late-afternoon playdate that involves some Wii. The kids get books & music at bedtime.
Sunday - I neglect my parental and household duties due to my book (The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, which turns out to be a ghost story and also a bit of a tease. A totally absorbing tease). Hubs works on computer all morning. Helen listens to CDs. Si plays legos, then Wii, and then both kids get invited to their cousin's. Hubs drives them over there and plays with them all for a while, to give his sister a bit of a break. I run, then work on the computer until everyone gets home. After dinner Si wants to play Wii but we decide to cut him off for the day, due to worked-up-ness and also my fond hope of getting the kids to bed on time or maybe even early. This sort of works. Hubs works on computer all evening.
There it is: weekend media use. It's about average for us: the grownups spend a lot of time on the computer, working (or "working"). Helen is almost completely uninterested in media, except for CDs and the occasional movie (and, sometimes, Leapster). Si gets about two hours of Wii/ video games, and assorted extra TV and/or movies depending on what the rest of the family is watching. Most of the kids' media use happens communally, to everyone's regret.
More thrilling updates to come.