Sunday, December 7, 2008

Should teens have a computer in their room?

I recently came across an article titled, "My teen wants a computer in his room. I say no. Here's why."

The author, Janine Wood, makes some good points. "So I geared up for yet another battle against the prevailing philosophy of the day, just as I did with PlayStation, Facebook, and Instant Messaging. I aligned myself with the wacko, overly protective, computer-hovering mothers. My husband and I devised a plan. We would tell our son that the less time spent on the Internet, the better."

Wood continues, "I ask my son to question his use of technology. Is it okay to be interrupted by a 'waz up' instant message while writing a book report on 'The Diary of Anne Frank'? Should he peruse a slide show of 'hot girls' provided by AOL's instant messaging service while studying the Gettysburg Address?"

It's refreshing to see this kind of philosophy of technology analysis, albeit somewhat brief, in a mainstream publication. The quotes about interruptions while working on serious endeavors highlight the potential bizarreness that modern media provides in relation to thoughtful consideration. Our world is constantly invaded by odd juxtapositions of ideas, sounds, and images.

By the way, in my house the family computer is in an open and highly-trafficked area. None of my children have a computer or television in their room (and won't). This does not mean that they do not have access to the reality of media around them, but it is administered in reasonable and monitored doses.

What do you think? How much is too much when it comes to parental management of media in the lives of teens? What are some helpful approaches?


david said...

I heard a statistic recently that the average male has already encountered pornographic material on the internet by age 11.

As far as approaches, the good one combines managing the activity and also talking with the teen regularly (even pre-teen). It should be less about avoiding exposure, and more about preparing them with the appropriate mindset.

Douglas Beaumont said...

Would a non-connected computer also count?

Robert Velarde said...

A non-connected computer can still be a distraction, but I suppose it depends on what is on it and what the proclivities of the teen in question are. My vote would still be against it, just as I'm against letting teens (or children of any age) have a television in their room.

We need more quiet and space for silence in our lives, not more opportunity for noise. To paraphrase Pascal, we need to learn to be quiet in our rooms.