Kids don’t watch TV!

I found this comment from Alice Taylor, a Bafta award-winning gamer, very interesting.  It was during a panel discussion at Microsoft Soho Studios.  Kinect has recently added National Geographic and Sesame Street to the Xbox peripheral allowing children to be more interactive with the games.  They’re trying to move away from the Dora style attempt at interaction on TV, where she asks a question, pauses a moment and then applauds the child even if they get it wrong or have walked out of the room.

Ever since my daughter was little we’ve worried about the amount of TV she watches.  I remember sitting in the waiting room to see the health care visitor and chatting with a more experienced mother.  Embarrassingly, almost in a ‘holier-than-thou-new-mum’ type of way I professed that we restricted her TV watching to 30 minutes a day.  She looked at me in that ‘bless you’ type of way and said ‘don’t worry you’ll get over that’.  I have to admit that it’s been a slippery slope since and she watches more TV than I’d like her to.

However, I have absolutely no problem with my daughter playing games as long as there is some kind of educational content.  This may have something to do with me being an ICT consultant in education.  She’s been using my iPhone since she was two and flies around my Ipad.  I have more apps on it for her than myself.  I’m constantly amazed at the quality of ‘edutainment’ content that is out there.  As a parent, I have to say I’m more comfortable with her playing educational games than watching TV especially if they get her off the sofa jumping around.

However, it’s another thing for us parents to worry about.  I lump computers, Ipads, Smartphones and games consuls into one larger category which I call screen time and as a parent I’m going to do my best to try to balance these with playing outdoors, eating mud, cooking, crafting and socializing.

And when I come to think of it, I watch very little TV except the odd episode of Embarrassing Bodies or Strictly on the Weekend.  However, I spend far too much time on the PC but in my defence I’m not watching soaps or reality TV, I don’t knit and this is my hobby.  Unlike television where there is very little social interaction, as it’s a very passive activity, my online activities are very social and educational.  I spend most nights chatting with others via twitter/facebook, composing blog posts (hoping to engage others in discussion via comments) or commenting on others blogs, so I guess I’m not a crusty after all!

I’d love to hear your comments on this.  Does this worry you?  Do you allow your kids to play games?

Disclosure:  I was paid to attend this event

The Land of Me – Interactive Story Book

I don’t know why I didn’t think I was going to like this, when in fact I really did.  There are 6 Chapters that you can download for children age 2-6 (Shape, Size and Colour, The World Outside, Making things, Rhythm and Dance, Songs and Rhymes and Story Time).  I absolutely love the music in the intro, the characters are gorgeous and what I like most of all is that there are over a 100 printable activities.

You follow the 3 characters Buddy Boo the bear, Eric the raccoon and Willow the owl through the Land Of Me.   At each stop, children have the opportunity to choose elements of the adventure.  My favourite is Anthony the Mexican Anteater in the desert, he’s a scream.  We made a castle out of jelly in the mud!

There’s also the opportunity to explore Literacy, with a place to add your own text, there’s also information about the creatures and places you visit and if you watch carefully, in the background, you may see the other characters getting up to all sorts.

The only negatives I found were that it takes quite awhile to download. So, make sure you do this before you sit the kids in front of the PC.  Secondly, as I’m a user of iTunes and rarely pay more than .59p for kid’s apps, I thought that £6.95 per chapter may be a bit dear.  However, you can download the first chapter for free from here.

Plus, this weekend they are offering a whopping £10 off.  All you need to do is type ‘happy’ into the discount code panel at checkout.

Disclosure:  We received all 6 chapters in return for this review