By Kristin van Ogtrop
January 22, 2015
John Wildgoose/Getty Images

Well, now we’re in the thick of summer, which means that all over America, parents are breathing down their kids’ necks about how much time they spend playing Xbox 360. Or is that just at my house?

We have a general rule of thumb, which is that the kids get 1 hour of screen time on school days and 1.5 hours on weekends and holidays. They can “earn” extra time if all of their homework is done and they spend some time reading (giant Harry Potter novels count; “Calvin and Hobbes” collections do not). We trust Eldest and Middle, ages 16 and 13, to keep their own eyes on the clock. (Mistake #1, perhaps.) While it’s true that every once in a while I will stomp into the room, scowl, and bark “How long have you been playing computer?!?!?!” the reality is that the boys are fairly responsible and know that I will run the laptops and gaming systems over with the car if they tried to play for an entire day, as they insist some kids do.

Am I just insane to wish that my kids played outside more? Am I a terrible enabler in even allowing Middle to have an Xbox 360 (which he won—won—at a sleepaway camp reunion; what was I going to do, say he couldn’t keep it?!?) Is it my fault for not hopping out of bed in the morning on a Saturday and declaring “Let’s go on a field trip!” or “Let’s go play tennis!” or “Let’s have a picnic in the backyard!” But if I did that, who would go to the grocery store or weed the garden or take Youngest to swimming lessons? Grrr, it’s just all so confusing.

So instead, the kids turn on the computer before even having breakfast in the morning and it irritates me to no end. My husband, ever rational, just thinks I am a crazy shrew about it. After all, the kids play sports, get good grades, blah blah blah. Do I just hate technology? Do I just want to live in the middle of the woods, where there is no wireless service, eating mushrooms that we’ve found growing in the wild, and playing Bananagrams by candlelight?

Maybe. Do you? Or am I the only crazy one?