Thursday, December 18, 2008

Are TV Time Control Devices a Good Thing?

Phil at A Family Runs Through It has an interesting post up about his experience with Bob, a TV and computer screen time controller. It is an electronic device that once plugged in between the device and the power, can control use time for up to six people. The idea is that if junior is spending a little too much time on the TV or PC, Bob will electronically control whatever time limits you set. I’m not a fan of these devices.

First, I don’t see why any parent can’t handle this conflict without paying for Bob. I could see the utility if the kids are home alone after school each day and you want to keep them offline. That could be useful. However misdirecting the source of conflict to the inanimate object doesn’t seem that useful to me. The disagreement about screen time still exists. Phil says as much in his post. The kids haven’t accepted his view of how much screen time they should have. They have given up arguing because Bob doesn’t listen.

More importantly, the whole idea of teaching kids that an electronic device is in control is way too 1984ish for me. It probably would not have helped sales if they had named this thing HAL, but that is exactly what I thought of when I read Phil’s blog post. If I put one of those things in my house (just as an experiment) I’d be disappointed if my kids didn’t work together trying to defeat it. Teaching obedience to the black box, even if the black box is a proxy for the the parents, just strikes me as creepy.


GloryMiles said...

Very informative article. Thanks.

To control my kids on-line activity, I use a simple internet filter called Ez Internet Timer. I can easily add/remove time on any particular day with just a couple clicks. Great tool and works fine under my Vista 64-bit. And now I’m thinking about purchasing of TV screen time controller to limit TV screen time too. Thanks so much for an informative and useful article.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Glory for the useful information. I have only one problem. My 2 children don’t like watching TV, they prefer to spend all free time on surfing the Internet. I think they spent far too much time playing on the internet; son plays flight simulators and watches many Youtube videos, daughter plays Webkinz. I’ve tried Ez Internet Timer and it now this software is letting my 2 children share a computer plus it’s limiting their online time. Awesome!!! Once again thank you!