Ever since Jase was young and would easily fall asleep in front of the TV, my husband has occasionally brought up the idea of putting a TV in his room. And as Jase uses a computer more and more (mostly for play instead of homework), my husband has also suggested we give him his own computer for his room.
On both these accounts, I am firmly against it. I don’t see any reason Jase or Lexie need to be holed up in their room watching TV or glued to the Internet without any contact from the rest of us.
There are two TVs in the house. They have free use of them, and each child has their own profile set up on Netflix. We can clearly check to see what they have been watching. (My kids pretty much have never watched regular cable TV. It has always been iTunes or Netflix.)
One report I read said 71% of American kids between 8 and 18 had a TV in their room. (By the way, more boys than girls have TVs in their room. I can only speculate that has something to do with gaming systems.) Researchers followed up with those in the study two and four years later. They found that those with TVs in their room tended to be overweight and continued to gain weight.
Jase and Lexie have a computer to use. It is in our office right next to mine. They have even come up with their own schedule for using the computer. And since the computer is in the office, my husband and I can monitor what they watch or play.
They are both really into watching YouTube videos and while their YouTube apps on their iPads have restrictions, I don’t believe there is any on the computer. Occasionally we tell them that what they are watching is inappropriate (usually because of bad language).
If they are in their room, I would not be able to monitor their Internet usage. I would have to rely soley on security settings and monitoring their web browser history. And at this point, they don’t NEED a computer for school work. It would only be for entertainment, and I feel much better having them use the computer out where I can monitor them.
Unfortunately, since the kids do have iPads with internet access, it is almost the same thing as having a computer in their room. And yes, we do allow them to watch it in their room. Jase sometimes hides what he is watching, but it is more for fear that we will tell him that he shouldn’t be watching something rather than him chatting online. (And he always lets us see what he is watching when we ask.)
We do have age restrictions on their iPads. All their purchases have to go through us, and we have to know all passwords. Their email accounts automatically copies my husband. Yes, I realize as they get older we will need to do more monitoring, and at some point we may not allow them to charge their devices in their rooms in an effort to stop them from texting or playing online when they should be sleeping.
But it is unrealistic to think that not having a computer in the bedroom will keep them totally safe. They can access the Internet from a friend’s house or at school. And no amount of filters will ever keep all the bad things away from them. So it is up to us as parents to keep talking to them about their online usage and monitoring it the best we can. It is about us teaching them proper usage of technology – whether it is in the terms of Internet safety or in the moderation of its use.