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NOW CLOSED: To DS or not to DS: Children and Gadgets in School Hols: Wii or Non? Talk to E.ON - you could win a £50 voucher

(98 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 11-Jul-12 10:11:13

We've been asked by E.ON - the energy provider, to find out your views on your child(ren) using gadgets (or not using them!) during the summer holidays.

By gadgets we are talking about games on a handheld device, like a Nintendo DS, apps on a tablet (like iPad), games or apps on your phone, on the computer/ laptop or on the Wii or Xbox.

For example....

Does your child have a set limit on gadget time a day / a week? Why is this? How long? Does this work for you and them?
What tips would you share with other parents about how to handle gadget use with children? How do you generally view use of these gadgets? What do you think are the benefits - to parents and to children? And what do you think are the disadvantages? (to parents and children)
If your child doesn't use a gadget like this please say why - it is down to you or them?
What sort of games or apps does your child play with? Do they play with other children? If so, do they socialise when on it?
Does the game ever become reality? For example - do they act out the game in real life? Do they/ you integrate the game characters into other activities eg making an Angry Birds cake or playing Skylanders in the park?


Everyone who adds a tip or story on this thread will be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 voucher for Capital Bonds - which can be spent in over 160 retailers.

Please note your tips and stories may be used by E.ON in a media release - your MN name will not be used.

thanks, MNHQ

EauRouge Wed 11-Jul-12 10:19:45

There are loads of free educational apps that you can download, 3.9yo DD1's favourite is one where you have to find and identify shapes.

I downloaded an app for my phone so that DD1 can play her games without accidentally phoning the emergency services, am I allowed to name it? It's called Kid Mode (feel free to delete the name if you want to, MNHQ).

We tend to save it for moments when she's very bored (queue at the supermarket,m for example). At home she has lots of other things to play with if (ha!) it's raining. Electronic toys and gadgets are OK but they need active play as well.

MegBusset Wed 11-Jul-12 10:29:39

Mine are 3 and 5 and don't have their own gadgets but do play games on my iPhone, DH's iPad and my laptop. There are loads of great little games on the iPod/iPhone appstore, mine love Robot Lab, Tozzle and Pocket Phonics. On the laptop they are only allowed to go on Cbeebies or Poisson Rouge.

DS2 is generally happy to sit and watch while DS1 controls the game.

I limit their time on these to about 45 mins a day; during the holidays we are likely to be out and about most days anyway. They do come in very useful when I'm trying to cook dinner without having to sort out endless squabbles!

Shouldacouldawoulda Wed 11-Jul-12 10:38:15

Both DDs have ipod touches that they use for game playing, either using downloaded apps or via wifi.

They are great for journeys and replaced their DS Lites. They are also a great way to get them out of the midday sun and into the shade.

I don't feel the need to limit screen time as they are good at doing that themselves. They prefer to play with other children or each other, read, swim, go for walks, do arts and crafts etc. but the ipods are another thing they like to play with, rather than the only thing.

They are also good as cameras and video cameras- they will make up shows and film them.

DS 10 and DD 8 have gadgets, but don't use them much, they prefer Lego or playing out on their bikes. I'm generally happy for them to play whenever, as long as school work, tidying etc is all done, but they're not that interested.
Sometimes they play wii beach sports for 20 mins, but then they're off again.
I on the other hand can waste hours on my iPod touch MNing or playing Lego Harry Potter.

Ragwort Wed 11-Jul-12 12:32:20

DS (11) has a PS2 that he paid for himself and he buys the odd sports game to play on it. He also uses the family computer but has to share with DH (who works from home) and me (very important time spent on mumsnet grin) so in reality he does not get that much time - max. 1 hour a day.

He doesn't have a mobile phone or anything else and as no one in our family really knows what an app is blush we don't have them.

I guess the sports games on the PS2 do become some sort of reality as DS is a very, very keen sports player - that is how he spends most of his Summer and most of my time is spent chauffering him to matches.

poorbuthappy Wed 11-Jul-12 14:00:32

We have a variety of gadgets (including a leappad thingy which is never used) and don't actually limit the time on them because I think depending on what is being played and with whom, changes the benefits of the gadget.
I often play Mario with my eldest on the WII, and we have a brilliant laugh.
She also often plays games on my phone (eg Flow which makes her think) on her own.

You tube is a godsend on my phone when I just want everyone to stop for a minute to let me do something important.

You have to be on top of it though, I know that left to my own devices I would sit on my backside and play away the day, so can only assume that my kids would be the same. blush

ouryve Wed 11-Jul-12 16:08:29

DS1(8) plays Mario Kart or puzzle games on his DSi and likes to use the computer to explore google maps, play online games or creates something with lego digital designer. We limit sessions to 60-90 minutes, usually, and insist he takes at least an hour's break in between. We don't allow him more than about 4 hours in total in any one day and none after tea.

He also has an MP3 player that he's free to use when he likes, except at mealtimes. It's rare he wants to use it too much and then that's limited by battery life, anyhow.

He sometimes tries to recreate the things he has "built" with Lego Digital Designer with his own lego hoard.

Roseformeplease Wed 11-Jul-12 16:32:50

My son is teaching himself to code on his laptop but is limited to three hours a day. He earns extra time by doing less pleasurable things. If left alone he would neither sleep, eat nor use the loo so he needs to be monitored. We have a Wi and DS but neither child is interested and both were only of interest for a few days. They both like being online to watch films etc and the other gadget (iPad) is mine and I rarely let them near it!

CMOTDibbler Wed 11-Jul-12 16:39:28

DS is 6, and the only electronic gadget he has is a leapster which has various educational games. He plays on it in fits and starts.
He only gets PC time when with an adult, and apart from watching YouTube videos of controlled demolition isn't that worried.
He loves playing Angry Birds on DH's phone, but maybe gets 15 min a week - he's only allowed on if we were waiting a very long time for food or waiting for an appointment

GetKnitted Wed 11-Jul-12 16:44:38

My 2 ds are only 0 and 4, so this is my first 6 week holiday experience. Ds 1 has limited access to my laptop with his own desktop with icons for painting , in built children's games and cbeebies. These are things that i'm happy for him to use independently and I don't have to worry about him accidentally opening or deleting something of mine. I may add links to a couple of online games sites, but only if I find something I trust. I'll have to unblock those sites for him (and soon I'll need a better password).

I had previously allowed him to use some children's apps on my android phone but because I'm too tight economical I didn't buy an advert free version and ds would press the ads by accident.

DS (9) has a netbook, and is currently crashed in front of the TV with it on his lap hmm. DD (5) was similarly crashed (without netbook) but is now playing with TV as background. They have just broken up for the summer.

I think we will leave them be for today, maybe tomorrow, as they are both shattered, but after that we will have to ration TV - I haven't worked out a sensible limit yet. I am less inclined to ration wii as (a) they don't play for hours on end and (b) it is one of few things they do together without fighting.

Neither has hand held gadgets but are occasionally allowed to play games on our phones/tablets. DS wants an iPod Touch more than anything else in the world for his 10th birthday and I am inclined to get him one if I can find a decent price. One of his most unspoilt friends has just got one, and got some iTunes vouchers from other family which he is spending on a mix of games and music. Since DS won't be allowed a phone at school for some years to come, it would seem to make sense for him to have an iPod touch instead. It will come with rules - time limited, especially when with other people and others which I haven't worked out yet.

firawla Wed 11-Jul-12 17:13:47

my 4 year old likes to play on my iphone. i don't have a limit but because its my phone its naturally limited anyway as he has to come and ask for it, and obviously i do need it back before too long, so not like he has free and unlimited access to it. but there are a lot of very good educational games so i dont really mind it. he did have a bit too much of a liking for youtube before, which i was not as keen on. he used to watch thomas videos but i had to limit that more, as it made him go a bit crazy sometimes and he would get annoyed if told to stop watching it, but with the educational games he's much better. he plays stuff like eggs on legs maths or some toddler quiz games

defineme Wed 11-Jul-12 18:03:19

We have 7yrold twins and a 10 yrold. They play on their Wii (usually with me or Dad as have 4 controls) about once a week-sometimes less. We play the Wii party games which are endless in variety, short and fun. We have Wii sport and Mario Kart but I don't like the effect on the kids-much more argument and poor behaviour after playing those for some reason. In the holidays we'll save it for rainy days, but they don't ask much for it-I often suggest it! It's a good thing to do in the holidays if they have a friend over and it's raining-after they've made a mess painting/eating/with lego-the wii can seem like a good mess free option.

The kids have no other devices-can't afford it x3 and generally find a book or a paper and pen will do in the situations people say they use them for.

I have a laptop and they've never asked about games, but we do look on Youtube/google/wiki stuff they're interested in-we can spend an hour looking at music stuff on youtube together.

I don't ration tv. They can watch a bit in the morning after breakfast and they'll do that in the holidays too, but they have each other to play with so they don't need it that much.
When they were little (had 3 under 3 at one point) I used to try and get them to watch and they picked up on my desperation for a break and have never been that interested as a result.
They watch favourites on iplayer when they're tired and they'll watch quiz or wildlife things with me at the weekend, but it's rare if they don't go off to do something else before the end.
My top tip is have 1 small tv that's not in a through room-I think it's really a case of out of sight out of mind with us. If you have a widescreen dominating the main room in the house it's going to make you think about watching it more isn't it?
To avoid a battle ground I'd avoid saying I was banning tv-I'd just direct them to something else/out of the house, but if you've got kids that beg for tv I'm not sure that would work.

I'm crap with gadgets so I would never prioritize spending money on them(currently on a laptop that's very old with green lines going down the screen!). I have a feeling that the kids are a generation who will see them as a necessity.

I have a one year old and I have an iPad. I found some great flashcards of simplistic things ie animals, food and he loves it. It amazes me that he knows how to use it already! This is just how it is now with the evolution of technology and kids being far superior at it then the ageing population. Scarey really.

janx Wed 11-Jul-12 20:26:15

My dd 7 and ds 4 both love playing on our iPhones. Ds has a speech disorder and I find some apps very useful but mostly he likes angry birds. Dd likes games that involve a puzzle. They are v useful in Queues, long car journeys etc. we do limit their use as we need our phones grin

boomdecker Wed 11-Jul-12 20:38:06

If I feel dd is overdoing the ipod I confiscate it so she can read a good book grin. Generally I think ipodding is okay - helps her to de-stress from school to focus intently on something that is more interactive than tv.

She looks at Facebook mainly to keep in the loop with the class gossip so she doesn't feel left out of all the girl politics She comments a bit on others' pages but doesn't post much of her own stuff.

When she started secondary school the games were a good ice-breaker with other girls. (We used to play jacks or read Jackie mag for bonding in my day!) I think the internet is a brilliant window on the world, but I do wonder if dd is over-stimulated sometimes - whether she really takes time to ponder things inth quiet of her own thoughts and smell the roses. Ho hum.

I like downloading children's stories on my iphone. It means that if we have a long car journey ahead (inevitable to get to anywhere of interest) that my toddler dd isn't bored and it stimulates her imagination a bit.

Not to mention that it's quite nice to hear the stories that you grew up with once again.

I always have headphones in my handbag, yet again, they're handy for letting DD listen to stories while on the train or waiting in queues.

She's also a dab hand at Tetris on the original gameboy! So retro without her even realising it! She only gets that if it's a rainy day and we've run out of games/colouring/dancing to do.

rufus5 Wed 11-Jul-12 21:23:18

I limit how long can be spent on gadgets, but that's just the same for TV and computer etc. If they know they can't use them all day every day they are more likely to use the time they are allowed better (e.g. select particular programmes to watch, their favourite games to play, rather than just watch anything that's on).

hellyd Wed 11-Jul-12 22:11:08

Does your child have a set limit on gadget time a day / a week? Why is this? How long? Does this work for you and them?
~~no limits but privileges removed for bad behavior
What tips would you share with other parents about how to handle gadget use with children? How do you generally view use of these gadgets? What do you think are the benefits - to parents and to children? And what do you think are the disadvantages? (to parents and children)
~~~ we are a very gadget heavy house (work in IT, parents both have IT degrees) so gadgets are a normal part of life for us
If your child doesn't use a gadget like this please say why - it is down to you or them?
What sort of games or apps does your child play with? Do they play with other children? If so, do they socialise when on it?
~~~DS is only 5 so still needs support to play but play games skylanders, sonic, angybirds, moshi monsters, cbeebies, no socilaisation yet as he's too young.
Does the game ever become reality? For example - do they act out the game in real life? Do they/ you integrate the game characters into other activities eg making an Angry Birds cake or playing Skylanders in the park?
~~~YES - skylanders is the most popular game in the playground at school, angrybirds are made in cakes and the physical games have been purchased and games and moshimonster have a village constructed out of lego in my living room!

DS is nearly 4YO and very proficient already with my i-pad. He does not have his own tablet or games console, we want to avoid that for as long as possible as we like him to have a day of mixed activity e.g. fresh air and exercise, drawing/writing name and numbers, cbeebies for a certain period, reading books. DS is allowed the i-pad for say, 40 mins per day, when he plays with phonics and numbers apps. If he does these then he is allowed to play Angry Birds for 20 mins. DS is learning from mistakes he makes on the i-pad, he accidentally deleted 10 apps the other day and he understands he did this by 'touching the crosses'.

gilliancd Thu 12-Jul-12 09:33:09

My 4yr old has a leap pad which I'm happy for her to play on. The games do seem to teach her things and she is good at limiting the amount of time she spends on it. She plays on it most at bedtime, which isn't ideal but is preferable to having her up and down the stairs all night!

aristocat Thu 12-Jul-12 12:43:00

Does your child have a set limit on gadget time a day / a week? Why is this? How long? Does this work for you and them?

I have a DS 10yr and a DD 8yr and we do not usually limit their screen time. They are good at playing with other things too however the iPod is a favourite and we are always adding new apps that they choose from the app store (mostly free).
They do not know the password and must ask.

What tips would you share with other parents about how to handle gadget use with children? How do you generally view use of these gadgets? What do you think are the benefits - to parents and to children? And what do you think are the disadvantages? (to parents and children)

I believe that these gadgets are a way of life now, and a good thing.

If your child doesn't use a gadget like this please say why - it is down to you or them?
What sort of games or apps does your child play with? Do they play with other children? If so, do they socialise when on it?

DS likes football apps/stick cricket/siege hero/ludo/dream team. DD likes LPS/tap zoo/coin dozer/JE spy kit/talking ben,tom/teddy bear/build a bear.
We have played games such as farkle together and taken turns with the game which can be fun.
Whirly word is another which we play together (it is anagrams of one longer word) and definitely good for spelling and learning new words.

Does the game ever become reality? For example - do they act out the game in real life? Do they/ you integrate the game characters into other activities eg making an Angry Birds cake or playing Skylanders in the park?

Yes, mine have acted out being Sonic and Tails on the trampoline. Built their own zoo/restaurants with lego.

Kveta Thu 12-Jul-12 14:17:42

DS is 2.9 so no school holidays as such, but I am on maternity leave and bfing a 1 month old, so DS is spending more time than I like slack jawed in front of the TV or wrestling my lap top off me so he can play the angry birds theme tune over and over again (as the game itself is a little beyond him!)

we do make sure he spends time outside every day, but now it's more of an incentive to get more screen time as the weather is so crap. so my tip is to let him earn screen time by playing in the rain or helping me hang the washing up or the like.

we are planning on getting a google nexus 7 soon (we are apple free in our household...) and will be looking for good apps for him to play on long car journeys.

sweatyscamp Thu 12-Jul-12 14:30:56

Does your child have a set limit on gadget time a day / a week? Why is this? How long? Does this work for you and them? To be honest, they don;t. However, they are sensible about the their useage - if this changed I would certainly impose restrictions

What tips would you share with other parents about how to handle gadget use with children? How do you generally view use of these gadgets? What do you think are the benefits - to parents and to children? And what do you think are the disadvantages? (to parents and children
We are quite laid back about them. Ds has a psp -he's 12, and dd has a ds - she's 6. We ensure the games they are playing are age appropriate and try to take an interest when we can (!) Obvioulsy the disadvantages can be that they never learn how to handle 'boredom'. If in doubt, graba gadget grin. We do not encourage taking them on holiday. I do have to admit, that when they are engrossed it gives me some spare time blush

If your child doesn't use a gadget like this please say why - it is down to you or them?

What sort of games or apps does your child play with? Do they play with other children? If so, do they socialise when on it?
ds plays football games mostly, dd princess and mario.

Does the game ever become reality? For example - do they act out the game in real life? Do they/ you integrate the game characters into other activities eg making an Angry Birds cake or playing Skylanders in the park?
DD definitley thinks she's princess peach at times. We do use the charaters to make up our own stories.

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