questionswhat do you think about kids and portable games…

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First off I think their fine and much better than having the kid run around the restaurant/store

Also I disagree that it's connected. I think it's just the people. Everyone is different and some develop at different times and all that jazz. So long as they are surrounded by people be it kids, adults, or whatever they will have someone to talk to and be able to.

My nephew will refuse to go to a restaurant with out his portable device. Mainly because he finishes before anyone else and would get bored otherwise I suppose. I dunno if that's why or not but my reasoning anyway. He plays games constantly but can hold a perfect valid conversation if it's about something he's interested in. Pokemon, dogs, trucks, etc.. I mean really I think it's a stretch to expect a kid to talk about politics or some other current event at 3rd grade age.

The listening to what they have to say I'll give you though. I think it's a good idea to devote 10 to 15 mins a day in school just to listen to them.

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@dravack: I don't think she's talking to them about foreign relations or economics. She's been teaching for close to 30 years so she knows what they can handle. I believe her topics fall more along the lines of the city building a new park or the school lunch changing, I guess more (relevant) things that are happening around them.

Thanks for the input!

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I think each modern generation will have its own adolescent social disconnect. I’m sure that 80 years ago adults complained that children were listening to too much radio, then 50 years ago watching too much TV, 30 years ago playing too much arcade games, then too much video games, then too much tablets, etc. As long as parents are allowing their children to get out, stay active, and play with friends alongside their tablet obsession, there shouldn't be much of an issue. Any issues that arise will still be due to poor parenting in another aspect, not just because they let their child play games on a tablet.

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As long as it keeps them quiet and still so they aren't bothering me.

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@the18thtee84: I agree. Whatever keeps those little, sticky-fingered brats quiet!

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First off, I don't think they should be served on the same plate... ;-)

All kidding aside, there's a time and place for everything, and my kids get bored really quickly in a restaurant, so we let them bring in their toys (iPods, etc), because we know they won't be able to hold on through a 1+ hour meal. We do talk to our kids,
just not in a noisy, busy, public environment, it's just not the place. That's not to say they tune out completely, we discuss the menu choices, they place their own orders, etc., and once the plates are served, the toys get put away, but for the entire time we're there, their attention won't let them stay focused with all the external distractions.

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Ideally, a restaurant is a great place to teach a kid about the etiquette of dining out and to have meaningful conversations with children.

Realistically, some kids are just train wrecks at restaurants. If a gadget keeps the kid quiet and happy while the parents get to enjoy their dinner and the other patrons don't have to deal with screaming, miserable children, that's fine by me.

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@cm20147: This is what I'm looking for. I like to get a better understanding of what is actually happening with children I see glued to these devices. It's easy to make assumptions but I'm trying to find a bit of truth for the future. My parents weren't always so involved due to the whole trying to make ends meet thing.

Also, I guess I'm just afraid some parents use these devices as an escape, glad to know thats not always the case.

Thanks for an answer beyond "whatever keeps them quiet and me happy"

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many parents use the devices as a babysitter, in lieu of teaching manners and respect. With that said, a restaurant that isn't kid-centric can be pretty boring for a kid, so in that respect i'll accept it, even if i don't condone it.

I have a bigger problem with the vast majority of adults i see with their faces buried in their phone texting, or playing word with friends, even in the middle of a group discussion. why bother going out in a group, then?

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@goatcrapp: I agree that a restuarant can be a boring place for a kid, but we're a lot of the answers here suggest that 10-15 years ago going out to eat was miserable for children and adults. Has the restaurant atmosphere really changed that dramatically?

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I see nothing wrong with kids having something with them to keep them occupied. I look at it along the lines of giving them a placemat and crayons, or bringing a coloring book or puzzle with. We had all kinds of stuff with when our kids were younger -- to keep them happy, for our sanity, and out of consideration for other diners. As long as they aren't using them the entire time they are out, and certainly not through the meal, I think it's fine.

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@nmchapma: in some ways, it has... back when, most restaurants would have crayon sets, or cheap activity sets to keep kids from becoming noisy and obtrusive to other patrons... now, not so much. Also, the parenting atmosphere has changed. Parents used to be a lot more active in actual parenting... not allowing the child to become so bored as to run around crazily. Again, now - not so much.

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Kids get their hands on devices wayyyyyyyyy more often than just in restaurants, that's the real issue at hand. I've seen simple things like sharing go down the drain when video games come in to play. Sharing quickly devolves into, "Come watch me play!"

I guess the question is really whether this is being used as an innocent way to occupy a child or a cheap bribe to shut 'em up. Case-by-case, obviously.

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A couple in our gaming group's son just turned 2. All he will do is play on their laptop or tablet. He isn't interested in toys, games, active play or even TV. It's convenient, as the kid sits quietly in a baby chair and plays on the device for hours while we game twice a week. I know they have talked to their pediatrician and he says a couple of hours a day is okay, and maybe the baby is more active at home. Empathy seems to be at an all time low in our culture, and I wonder if a couple of generations being raised largely by electronic devices is a major contributor to that phenomenon.

BTW, I am not being critical of my friends' child rearing skills, which I think are great. I also confess to contributing to the need for the kid to be confined, as my dog won't tolerate the baby over him on his bed. But I haven't ever seen such a sedentary kid and it seems odd to me.

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depends. I try to have conversations with my wife AND my kids when we all go out. Then again, if there hasn't been very much time for just the adults lately, and we couldn't get a babysitter, I'm inclined to let the kids keep themselves occupied so I can talk to my wife.

All to often, though, I'm thinking it's just lazy parenting, intended to shut the kids up.

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Lots of good stuff here! By connection I don't mean direct cause and effect. I more mean that there could be a link (possibly in a long chain) from one to the other. I get that babysitters are expensive and people want to spend some peaceful time with the spouse/family. Being occupied for short periods of time isn't bad but so often the kid seems pushed to the side and told 'here, play with this and be quiet" and even if they wanted to be included, they aren't. Just an observation.

BTW I love games and hope to one day play them with my kid :-)

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I dunno if cost of babysitting is a legitimate factor when we're talking about handheld consoles that cost $150-$300. Then there's the cost of games.

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I have a 2 1/2 year old, when we go out to eat we bring a few toys like little people and small animals to keep her occupied. She is not allowed to play with them until after eating and only if she eats a good portion of her meal. Before we order we let her choose what she would like to eat then we talk as a family until our food arrives.

In our case this teaches her to communicate as well as to use her imagination while playing by herself. Does this work flawlessly? No, but it does work most of the time and by no means have ever been afraid to go out and eat with her either. JM2C

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@nmchapma: See even that is to much I think. Maybe the school lunch but not the park. I mean when I was a kid I didn't pay that much attention to what was going on in the city. I was more interested in my friends and what they were doing/playing. IE: legos, super nintedo, etc.. Also latest cartoons gumby, johnny quest, etc..

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@dravack: The role of schools isn't just to talk with kids about what they are already interested in. I think the most important role of schools is to offer developmentally appropriate learning opportunities about a wide variety of subjects that kids may not yet be interested in, but which might fire their imagination and their interest. The coolest thing I have seen in all my years as a municipal employee was the 4th grade boy who came to make an impassioned plea at City Council for a sidewalk improvements project near his home. He told City Council that his little sister had just started kindergarten and had to walk on the street to get to her school. His classes let out later than hers, and he couldn't be there to walk her home. He was worried for her safety. The way the kid puffed up with pride when Council approved the sidewalk project was unforgettable. I am sure it was a civics lesson with a lifelong impact for that kid. But at some point someone had to tell him about it.

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what do i think about kids? i generally think they're annoying, and having them is of little more worth than raising someone to wipe your ass when you're so old you can no longer do so. (cue the downvotes from people who find ruining their lives with children is "the most rewarding experience i've ever had")

what do i think about portable games in restaurants? i don't have a portable game system, but sometimes i'll play cell phone games if i'm rolling solo and there's no one interesting to talk to.

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Wow these arent the kind of responses I expected .. I really thought I would be reading through "Kids shouldnt be playing with things at the dinner table, they should be eating and being quiet"..

As to my take on it.. If my daughter finishes her meal while we are out, then it's no big deal to play with touchpad/handheld gaming device.. But not before she finishes her food.

Funny thing is I eat pretty fast (It's a military thing....) so if she finishes before me, more power to her :D

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@lotsofgoats: Come on now, what do you take us Wooters for?? Non-Deal-Getters?

$150-$300 can buy a Handheld, 10 games and a Sansa MP3 Player

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I feel the need to chime in on this one. Keep in mind, some (though not all) of these kids, may have some degree of a (not outwardly obvious)social/neurological disorder (Autism, ASD, Asbergers), that paired with a handheld device, (Ipad, games), can give a socially awkward child a way to cope with surroundings that are simply too much for their sensory-sensitive wiring to cope with. In some cases, an iPad has apps that assists a non-verbal child with communication with others. Lastly, it gives parents a chance to actually be able to enjoy going out to dinner as a family, free of the fear of the sensory meltdowns.

This, coming from a parent with a 3 1/2 year old, who is on the spectrum.

footnote - my son was born DURING a wootoff. any others in this club out there?

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Overall, I think we as a society should stop and enjoy a meal together, without electronics. But that's not going to happen. We are becoming more and more dependent on tech for our communication, so letting children adapt to tech early seems to be the best way to go.

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I think they should both be banned from restaurants.
Nothing worse than going out and having to deal with other people's screaming piles of mistakes when I'm trying to enjoy a meal and chat with my friends.
I mean, at least I assume they're mistakes, because 99% of the time both of the parents just completely ignore the child/ren while they sit there yelling, screaming, and/or running around the restaurant and being a nuisance to everyone else.
I just wish more restaurants that aren't super high-end or bars had the balls to ban children from the premises. I'd like to have more kid-free zones I can go to that aren't as loud and rambunctious as bars tend to be at night.

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When my son was little, we had a portable video player (tape, 1990s) that we would take along on plane trips, long outings, or family dinners. It would be pulled out when he just couldn't sit still any longer. It gave him some distraction and we could enjoy what we were doing as well.

When he got older, we allowed him to bring his games for after dinner distraction at family dinners since he was the youngest by far and the conversation was boring to him.

Otherwise, no games or videos. We stressed conversation a lot at dinner, in the car, everywhere.

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It would depend on the restaurant. A Denny's? Fine. French Laundry? Not fine. As a parent, you have to choose your battles wisely. Obviously, lessons in table manners and decorum occur before kids are left to have two black gadgets in their hands/that's all they care about that allow them to vacate table conversations.

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@thunderthighs: Your son seems to be about my age :-) maybe a little younger. Is he glued to his tech like the rest of my generation? As I said I do my fair share of console gaming, but I don't have a facebook account and send about 30 text/month. We all have our tech vice I suppose. :-)

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@ericleer: I appreciate your input. Please know that my question was not meant for those children with social disorders, instead the ones who may be inadvertantly developing them.

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@pinchecat: So glad you showed up. Always happy to see your cheerful, smiling, face and your glass-half-full-attitude.

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@stryker4526: So you're saying the adults can be as or more annoying than the kids? you might should think of staying in.

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@moondrake: I agree, and so does my mother-in-law. If you start talking to kids early about their surroundings and the way the world works then maybe, just maybe, they'll grow up to be a well adjusted adult able to hold a conversation about a real current event. Not meant to imply that all it takes, but it couldn't hurt :-)

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@nmchapma: My son is 23 and has always marched to his own drummer.

He refuses to get on FB despite my requests so he could stay in touch with his dad's family in WI.

He finally got on Twitter about 1.5yrs ago because Jeff and Phil live tweet Survivor and Amazing Race, respectively.

He texts only as needed but has quite a few online friends on IM.

He knows that there's no video games or phone while we are eating. We talk.

Yet he's had his own web comic since about 8th grade. Don't ask. I respect his privacy.

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@thunderthighs: Though I've never met him, I like him :-) He's only 2 yrs younger than I am, I'm impressed with his lack of interest in FB. It's the devil.

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My children are young adults and I didn't take them to a sit down restaurant until they could behave appropriately in public; a sacrifice I was willing to make because it was important for them to learn manners. Even now, no telephones during dinner. Why are people so afraid to set limits for their children? It makes them better humans.

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@thunderthighs: Sounds like he's a good candidate for an ARGer
Awesome that he's a "creative" too. I know many folks just like him.

eta:
Many good answers here, so I have nothing much to add. My kids (7 and 10) only recently received personal portable electronics, and they don't take them to restaurants. Just car rides and hanging around the house.

@lotsofgoats: $6-$10/hr for 4 hours or so a night adds up to some serious babysitting coin.

j5 j5
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@nmchapma: my pleasure. always willing to lend a bit of reality to the conversation. thanks for allowing everyone to contribute to your deeply thought-provoking community post.

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@nmchapma: Thanks too, for the comment. I simply want to just spread some awareness via this thread, being that in a group of 88, one of those kids is likely to be affected with some degree of Autism. (1 in 54 boys). And yes, thanks, for a good, solid question..

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I used to get all twitchy about letting our sons take their games into restaurants, for all the reasons mentioned here. Then I remembered that when I was a kid, I would never go into a restaurant without a book, which I buried my nose in through pretty much every moment when we weren't eating. As long as their volume is down and they're not disturbing anyone, I don't see any difference.

Like @cm20147, my kids keep them off before we order, and they go off again as soon as our food arrives.

One thing that's kind of interesting with my own kids is that when only one kid is out (either with both parents or just one), he's usually just fine not having his game and chatting like a regular person. When it's the two of them, though, the games really help keep the peace.