Re: Reality check


I got my kid his first laptop at age 2.

Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 10:25 AM
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There was a big thing about how if your kid viewed a screen before the age of 2 they would grow up to be an undergraduate who majored in business administration. I felt very strongly about no screens until 2. I don't recall after that.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 10:33 AM
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If you have two working parents and four kids of different ages, I don't see how you do any extra curricular activities that aren't either right after school or on the weekend*. But I'm almost certainly lazier than you.

* For example, kiddie soccer leagues here were organized so that you could have a good shot at having all your kids practice on the same day that you could make it work.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 10:39 AM
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We have always tried to minimize activities, because screw all that running around. in-house piano lessons started when Iris was 6. She also generally had Saturday morning stuff: a toddler music thing when she was little, then tae kwon do for a few years; that also included 1-2 weekday evenings. I don't think Kai ever did an activity like that, but this year he did both basketball and swimming through school, the latter of which required us to ferry him from his school to the nearby one with a pool and then pick him up a couple hours later, so that was a hassle even though it was through school and nearby.

We've done a fair number of short term things, like library story time that's weekly for a few months then ends, or Kai's in a library book club now that meet monthly. But, basically, we're homebodies.

Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 10:42 AM
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I grew up with strictly controlled TV access. It makes it hard to anticipate what life would be like if the kids had unrestricted access to technology - would I be edgy because the TV is always on? What exactly would be displaced, and would I care? What kind of new boundaries would be set - rules about sharing devices, what they're doing on the devices, etc?

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 10:43 AM
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Kid TV is just horrible to have to listen to. Our house is too small for unlimited TV. Japanese animation is basically impossible to listen to without causing stress.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 10:45 AM
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On screens, when Iris was really little, smartphones (basically) didn't exist and we didn't have any kind of mobile device at all. We'd let her watch some videos, but it wasn't much. I think she got a hand-me-down phone when she was 7 or 8, and then paid for 1/2 of an iPad when she was IIRC 9.

Kai being a second child got more screen time at every age, and has had his own device since he was I think 5.

We've mostly had rules about no screens on school nights, although now that Iris is in middle school, that doesn't really apply to her (because a. she legit needs it for homework, b. the kids these days with their texting, and c. she's getting her shit done, so there's no issue where the screen is between her and homework/housework/sleep*).

*she does sometimes stay up too late, mostly binging on TV shows, but she gets herself up and out in the morning, so that's good enough for us

Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 10:47 AM
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Naruto is the worst. He can't not shout and has unending battles that are somehow 98% dialog.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 10:48 AM
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And if you let kids play with your phone, they'll use all your stardust to power up stupid Pokemon.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 10:49 AM
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The other thing I learned is that you need at least a good hour between the Nintendo DS or other gaming and bedtime if you don't want them getting out of bed every five minutes for the next hour.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 10:51 AM
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5: what we've found is that there's basically no way to control or limit except through actual removal of the device. They're little crack dispensers, and children have zero capacity for self-control with them. Sharing is possible, but there will be bickering. Headphones are a blessing.

One weird trick: Minecraft was literally the first thing that Kai and Iris cheerfully shared and interacted about. But, again, you won't be able to limit them to just that: Minecraft will turn into watching Minecraft videos on Youtube, which will lead to other YouTube stuff. There is a junior version of YouTube that's content-controlled, and of course devices themselves have some age limitation settings, but that stuff is really just for reducing the ubiquity of inappropriate stuff. Unless you want o be a hardass, they're going to spend time doing/watching things you'd rather they didn't. I don't even mean porn or whatever, just shitty content, whether it's Disney TV shows or the likes of PewDiePie.

Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 10:54 AM
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I hate the voice of that guy who does the Minecraft videos.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 10:55 AM
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Kid is 5, we're definitely still navigating this. He gets to use "his" smartphone (an older one of ours) when he's using the toilet; this was initially a bribe to get him to use the toilet at all when that was being especially challenging, but has become a regular thing. Also a regular thing: fights about when to be done, even with explicit timers he can see, he just complains about the time not being long enough. The phone also gets busted out for long trips in cars or airplanes.
We do somewhat limit what's on it, to educational-ish stuff, but a couple of the games have hooks to in-app purchases or into the app store and video previews; while he can't buy anything, they're an annoying backdoor to stuff we haven't vetted. And yes, crack dispenser.

Extra-curricular, outside of school: One music class at a time, most Saturday mornings, for like three years now. My wife seems to be worried that we're not doing "enough" with him in this regard, but I don't really agree or particularly understand where this impulse comes from. Some amount of peer pressure and knowing what other kids do, I suppose. There's definitely a tension between the school of thought that you have to start doing something as a young kid to become truly awesome at it (violin, say) and the school that thinks that the kid should have some agency into what they spend their time doing.

Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 11:12 AM
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It makes it hard to anticipate what life would be like if the kids had unrestricted access to technology - would I be edgy because the TV is always on?

Once they get access YouTube, they will not care about TV.

I think Minecraft has been great training wheels for learning to deal with all the other crap that happens on the internet. Kids can get into fights with each other on a shared server and there is plenty of trolling going on, but ultimately they are forced to figure out how to manage their social interactions so they have a better time of it in the long run. And there is no permanent record of any of it.

Our philosophy is that the kid is going to be living a lot of his life in the digital environment, so as he grows up he should be developing the tools that allow him to make the best of it.

At this point, I think he's way ahead of his peers in terms of his ability to manage online interactions - and in terms of overall computer skills. He's pretty good about self-policing his content intake, and he still comes to us if he runs into problems with the people he interacts with.

Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 11:26 AM
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I just set up time limits for one my kids on the xbox one through a Microsoft account. It seems to be working.

Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 11:54 AM
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The password protection and all of the xbox is such a huge pain in the ass to use that we still use a Wii for 95% of our gaming and all of our Netflixing.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 11:57 AM
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God, I can't remember all the extracurriculars they've done, I could probably enumerate what they're doing now if I consult the shared family gcal.
Only one of the kids has real problems following our technology limits, although the youngest one is showing signs of acting like him.

Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 12:56 PM
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Son has been taking instrument (trombone, drum) lessons since he was little. Son also has gone to chess instruction at least once a month since he was small, with a couple-year hiatus at one point. Other random extra-curriculars involving bands and the quiz show team, which I think meets once a week.

Daughter just started at piano at age 12 because she's interested. Both have played played soccer since they were very little.

Screen-time (which is often music time on phones for the boy) is basically unlimited. Got smartphones at around age 10 (daughter) and 12 (son).

So we're bad parents, but ended up with good kids so far. They get browbeaten on school stuff, but otherwise live pretty unregulated lives. They are 15 and 13.

The Missus is a stay-at-home mom. It is a mystery to me how people do this parenting thing otherwise.

I really am quite curious about this, but I fear any effort to inquire about it in real life would be flaunting my own privilege. I have five siblings with kids, and none of them spent significant time as a two-income family. That includes two stay-at-home dads.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 1:00 PM
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Our logistical sitch is so different from yours (one kid, in city with public transit) we've nothing much of use on that end re extra curricular stuff.

On what activities to choose, we were kid driven re dance and music, but would have gone for somethings along those lines anyways bc believe strongly need to equip the young ones with certain bedrock skills and habits supportive of lifelong health & happiness. And these underlying commitments earnestly communicated to kid ad naseum have been useful in navigating how he has evolved from total commitment to crazy Russian ballet thru the nope no more I'm done with crazy Russians eureka moment and into tap & Bollywood on a steady recreational-social basis,* also going from piano to accordeon. He's never gone off the music theory-composition lessons i think bc gets along charmingly well with his teacher. And I'm an adherent of the slow boil approach for music - consistent low stress practice and a congenial relationship with a good teacher lead to lifelong enjoyment founded on solid knowledge hopefully minus neuroses. Unless your kid is insanely talented it isn't worth pushing and creating psychological horror imo.

He learned to Minecraft during his male friends' phase when that was all they did, but never got really into it. He treats his phone as the parental electronic ball-and-chain that it is, so it's rarely charged and he's annoyingly hard to get ahold of. Movies and etc on the television are something we've always done together, so that sets a natural limit.

He spends a lot of time on the computer now for school work and pursuing other interests (linguistics and school govt stuff) and usually some funky Bollywood video is going on in the background or he drags us in to watch john Oliver etc, all seems age and context appropriate. His school has been excellent at building habits of getting your own shit done thank god bc I've less than zero interest in clogging up my relationship with him hounding on that crap.

*hilariously retaining certain ballet habits, so for ex v precise and graceful arm positions consistently achieved in midst of group performances otherwise characterized more by raw joie de vivre.

Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 1:09 PM
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Unless your kid is insanely talented it isn't worth pushing and creating psychological horror imo.

At what point does horror become justified? Like Flock of Seagulls-level or are we talking Bach 2.0?

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 1:15 PM
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Solid shot at successful blind audition for major orchestra combined with very strong indications child would be happy with that life.

Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 1:25 PM
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I bet Flock of Seagulls paid better.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 1:32 PM
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For some people, consistent low stress practice is still psychological horror.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 1:33 PM
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For me, holding a musical instrument is psychological horror.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 1:34 PM
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Until I start playing, and the horror is shared.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 1:34 PM
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Maybe you should practice holding an instrument.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 1:38 PM
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Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 1:38 PM
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Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 1:41 PM
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Oldest kids (11 & 13) have iPhones because they're allowed to travel around the city by bus to get to friends' houses or other activities.
Younger kids get up to an hour of screen time each night- stop time of 8:30, so if we're free at 7:30 they can start then but some nights they're not home until after 7:30.
All kids do hockey- oldest on travel team which is 1-2 games each weekend and 2 practices weeknights. Second has sessions Sat & Sun. Younger two are together and have Sat-Sun-Mon sessions. Also there's a family skate where all of us can play together either Sat or Sun morning. I have a full family line on the ice, 5 skaters and a goalie. But we've only gone to that a couple times this season.
Older two do boy scouts, one meeting a week and one trip per month.
Oldest does district band but otherwise he and the second have instrument lessons in school.
Third has art class once a week after school, and youngest will start one too in Jan.
Second does math club before school once a week, goes in early with a friend.
Oldest is on student council at school but that is during school hours, no extra time except he's supposed to go to the things they organize like the dance last week.
Oldest takes the dog to training one night a week and is the sole handler there.
Oldest and third do judo once a week.
Younger two do swimming lessons weekend mornings. Oldest two used to but are secure enough swimmers that we let them stop.
Younger three did soccer in that season. Middle two will do baseball in that season. Sleepaway camp for the older two last summer, for the three oldest next summer and day camp for the youngest.
Did some semi-private tennis lessons in the summer, will probably pick that back up.
I'm sure I'm forgetting some other things.

Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 1:55 PM
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We've got our very little one in gymnastics, primarily because he's gonna be short, so I'm looking for things where short isn't a drawback. Short and he likes thrills, so again, gymnastics. (He LOVES basketball, which is a funny thing to say, except that it was one of his early words; he practices dribbling a basketball; we go out to courts to watch pick-up. He loves basketball and I have very bad news for him.) Because I've done my share of competitive level sports, I really don't want that for him. I decided that the perfect amount of gymnastics is where you can do a standing back flip to show off at a party. Any more than that is too much.

I am completely unwilling to sit and watch kid soccer or baseball, so those'll be up to my boyfriend. But my sister tells me that kid basketball is also enjoyable for the watchers. I'd also like to keep up some kind of music involvement.

Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 2:05 PM
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I've taken my own damn self off screens at home, so it'll be a hard sell for the kid to bring those back. But I know I'll be a constant battle.

Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 2:08 PM
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Remember Spud Webb! Basketball is always a possibility.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 2:09 PM
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Remember Spud Webb!

JJ Barea would be the contemporary example.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 2:14 PM
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We went totally uncontrolled with technology access fairly young (elevenish maybe?) The kids seem fine, and I don't think about the horrifying things they've seen by now.

We had them in an afterschool program that was TKD lessons-based -- they didn't learn much and hated it a great deal, but it was cheap and convenient, so negative parental load. Other than that there was bullshit weekend soccer, which was a couple hours a week, and then Sally had two sort of serious sports periods: swimming and then rugby, both of which were a lot of trouble. We couldn't have managed swimming without my mother stepping up and doing all the driving, and rugby meant a 2 hour commute for me picking her up at practice on my way home from work.

Once high school hit, though, everything was on them, burden-wise. Sally played four years of varsity soccer and I never saw a game (at her request, I would kind of have liked to), and Newt does robotics and now Model UN, and I don't do anything for that either.

For music, we bought a piano and had them in lessons for maybe two years? They didn't practice, we didn't compel them to practice, the piano sits sadly neglected and untuned.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 2:21 PM
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29 is making me feel much better. We're not the craziest folks on the block.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 2:22 PM
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Right now:
We compel the oldest three to do piano.
We let the oldest three each pick one activity (tends to be soccer, gymnastics, baseball, or dance)
We have accumulated additional activities that have low parental load - karate is down the street and all the kids can attend the same class, and it's cheap, art class is free on Fridays and there's an impromptu parent happy hour during it, and whatever free clubs come and go at school.

At times it feels like too much, at other times it feels fine.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 2:28 PM
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My kid is a horrible athlete, so any attempt at sports has been miserable for him. Its possible that he'll want to do baseball in the spring, because we are finally back in the US and he romanticizes baseball (as he should), however I do not expect it will end well.

On the other hand, young Poindexter has done very well in his first coding competition and is going to compete at states next week. So all those years of Scratch programming may yet pay off.

Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 3:08 PM
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Living in Japan with kids who were into football [soccer] meant that extracurricular stuff was more than slightly crazy. Both boys played football for 12-15 hours a week from age 6, divided between training and matches with their local team and sessions at a J-League club academy. Then there were weekly after-school calligraphy, swimming, and English lessons, plus piano lessons for Hitsuji. After Tatsu turned ten he started going to cram school twice a week for support with maths and Japanese language as well. So that whole period is a bit of a blur, the more so as I was also trying to build my freelance career and would cart my laptop around, working on the touchline or at the poolside or wherever in whatever free moments were available.

The football achieved its purpose, though. I deliberately started Tatsu playing because I reckoned that wherever we went in the world, boys who are skilled at kicking a ball around will never lack for friends. When we moved to the UK it worked like a charm. All that training meant that even though they were smaller than most British boys their age and not completely fluent in English to start with, as soon as their schoolmates saw them play they wanted them on their team.

Electronic device rules had much the same purpose. Kids without (in those days) a Nintendo DS would find themselves excluded in Japanese elementary schools, so although my instinct was to curb screen time I deliberately bought them devices and games when they started school so they wouldn't be bullied for that reason at least. As the only visibly non-full-Japanese children in a school of nearly 700, they didn't need to be any weirder than necessary.

They're now both avid online gamers, and I'm not sure whether that addiction has been too high a price to pay for a solid sense of social assurance. But like Spike in 14, I tell myself they have to learn to navigate the digital environment successfully for themselves. NW has helped me set time limits on the router so their PCs are kicked off the Internet at bedtime, which helps. And last year during the runup to GCSEs Tatsu requested off his own bat that we set the router to allow him online only for a couple of hours a night, so he could concentrate on revision. That made me think we might have got something right.

Both after the move to the UK and as they've gone into their mid/late teens, my involvement in after school activities has declined to almost zero. They volunteer at a charity for an hour a week and have Chinese lessons as part of the Duke of Edinburgh award. They also go to a Japanese tutor once a week in an attempt to keep them as fully bilingual as possible. Tatsu still plays football, but lackadaisical British-style: until last year that meant an hour a week's training and a match every other Sunday or so, and this year the coach has even dropped the training sessions. But since going to sixth form college he's got into Ultimate Frisbee, and as his team has a Japanese coach the training is almost as intense as elementary school football was. (I think they've been unbeaten in their league for the last two seasons at least.)

Posted by: Ume | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 3:09 PM
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38.2 is genius.

Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 4:21 PM
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35- I am happy to sacrifice my sanity for an increase in your happiness.
Oldest kid came home today and said he'd joined the school play because they didn't have enough boys in it.

Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 4:34 PM
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xelA sometimes plays with Mrs M's phone when we are on long car journeys. Very occasionally uses the tablet. As in, I think it has been at least 2 months since the last time. He used to use it a lot more but for various reasons -- rationing by us, he has other things to do, forgetting -- it has stopped being a thing. He's 5 in March.

He does watch TV a fair bit, though. Basically, 45-60 minutes or so in the morning when we are getting ready for school/work, and then 30 minutes in the evening before bath/bedtime. More if the weather's shitty on the weekend, or he's whiny. Although we've been resisting the whining for a while. He'd get more TV -- I'm not one of those people who thinks TV is the spawn of Satan, and it should be rationed or the kids will never get their medical degree -- but he's enough of a dick about it when he does get more, that it's easier to just have a fairly set routine.

No extracurricular activities at all, although he does go to after school care where they do a lot of sport and dancing. We will start him again with football, and maybe some kind of dance or performance related thing after Christmas, as he's keen. He did do football before for about 6 months, but hasn't for nearly a year.

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 6:15 PM
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Mrs M is keen for him to start karate. Not because she has any interest in martial arts, but because the class happens at the school and the instructor is one of the after-school care workers that he particularly likes. And he loves Lego Ninjago and leaping about pretending (or actually) hitting people.

I'm less keen, but will go along with it if it happens. I'm generally opposed to most 'white pyjama' martial arts having had experience of both that type of thing, and the more sport orientated things (boxing, boxe fran├žaise) which are just much more chilled and less hierarchical. But I can see that the whole 'white pyjama' thing has attractions for kids, too. When I did karate for a couple of years the kids' class clearly loved it, structure and bowing, and all.

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 6:26 PM
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Let's see, three kinds of physical therapy, about to be four. Kindergarten readiness class once a month for a year (free dinner plus childcare while the parents are in the class) and in the two years since I've been in the parent support group because it's the same setup and actually useful sometimes. Mara has taken art classes two or three times and Nia did some drama, both on weekends. All three took ice skating at the same time for one semester but with Mara's swollen joints last year we didn't go back and then there weren't enough kids Selah's age for the beginner hockey program. Um, trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy for the older two (back-to-back sessions) a few years ago and then an abuse support group/sibling group/parent group for twelve weeks this summer. Okay, I guess it's all right that we haven't managed music lessons yet. They no longer do weekday visits with Lee, which frees up time, but I get to do my own physical therapy (and probably get employed again) before we add much more.

And the older two (11 and 10) have phones since 10/9 (the tracking functions made smartphones more useful than just plain phones) and Selah (5) has an iPod Touch. It's not unlimited screen time but it's more than I'd prefer in the best of all possible worlds, often an hour a day and sometimes more. We're getting a Switch for Christmas and I have no idea what that will do to anything. The Wii Just Dance was a big hit and got people moving, which sort of counts as something, so maybe we can replicate that.

Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 6:46 PM
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The Calabat (4) has gymnastics, piano, and periodically swimming. He has a Kindle that we bought for a long road trip but he usually doesn't play with it. Maybe an hour a week? TV is limited too, maybe a couple hours per week.

Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-12-17 7:38 PM
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Interesting polling.

My kids are 14 & 16. Kiddo 1 got first laptop in 5th? grade, after participating in NaNoWriMo and proving that they would make good use of it. iPhones in 6th grade or so? It's been long enough that I've forgotten. Our kids are fairly responsible users

We ran the crazy treadmill of kids' activities. We could, because we had grandparents (in a bit of craziness that I still don't believe I engaged in) who agreed to drive 1 hour so kiddo 1 could play on a club basketball team. It was good for her -- taught her to be comfortable in her tall body at the time and that she could be athletic if she wanted to. So worth it, but also crazy. We also let kiddo 2 play hockey, which entails a 45m+ commute, two days a week, and weekly games. That's also been worth it. They also play guitar & piano (though at school and nearby, so that required driving, but not crazy driving), did Destination Imagination (which I managed, so substantial work), drama and summer theater (driving, not at school), little league (nearby), debate (at school, but driving to tournaments). So, a lot, but we had the bandwidth to do it.

If we hadn't, I'd have made them pick one or two activities that were nearby. School didn't provide strong extracurriculars, so they couldn't have all been through school.

Posted by: zb | Link to this comment | 12-13-17 10:33 AM
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I found out today that we signed Pokey up for another round of ballet folklorico, which I super love (and he enjoys) and is offered through his school, so that's a clear win.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-17 10:36 AM
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How do you win ballet?

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-17 10:42 AM
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Mostly sucker punches.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-17 10:48 AM
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But my sister tells me that kid basketball is also enjoyable for the watchers.

My kids have resolutely avoided team sports up til now, and in fact this fall is the first time I've ever watched any child of mine participate in a competition.

I can't do it. The pain of seeing how bad they are, but I can't coach them from the sidelines? Agony. Might be different if they were actually better/less obviously clueless, but that's not going to change (Iris is enthusiastic about running, but seems to have no ability; she was a quarter mile or more behind the cross country winners).

Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-13-17 11:08 AM
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That's so foreign to me, as well as LB's: Sally played four years of varsity soccer and I never saw a game (at her request, I would kind of have liked to)

Surely both because my kids are much younger, but I totally love to watch them sucking it up or doing well, and I can't imagine giving them a say in whether or not I attended, even in high school.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-13-17 11:11 AM
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That's nothing. I've seen the times and I'd be a quarter of a mile behind the winners.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-17 11:11 AM
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51 to 49.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-17 11:12 AM
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52: Politics are in the other threads.

Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-13-17 11:13 AM
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I don't know which way this cuts, but Sally was a deeply unserious soccer player. The team was founded (it's a pretty young school) by a friend of hers who's genuinely good and who bullied every girl she could find who's athletic at all into showing up, but Sally's not a real player on any meaningful level. Which is about the level of sports for kids I like -- playing them consistently but sort of badly.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-13-17 11:32 AM
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How music goes here:

"Just do your best and everything will be fine."

"That's just what the music teacher wants me to think."

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-13-17 7:19 PM
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