Pisani talks grandparents and the great iBlaming screen scheme

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani /

Grandparents have been taking a lot of flak lately, after a study concluded that Grandma and Grandpa, Nana and Papa, Bonnie and Clyde — call them what you will — are letting their grandkids spend way too much time with iPads and video games when they visit.

Since everyone in America is under investigation lately, why shouldn’t grandparents be too, so call in the FBI and the AARP. Throughout history, kids have loved to blame their parents for everything that went wrong in their lives. Well, a new era is upon us and now they want to blame us grandparents for everything that goes wrong in their kids’ lives.

My personal views on this matter have evolved. I used to grumble about the pernicious influence of TV and screen time and video games, but since my grandkids came along, I have adopted a “laissez-fare” attitude, which is French for “let the little troublemakers do whatever they want as long as it keeps them quiet, and they don’t bother me while I’m playing Scrabble on my iPad.”

Besides, there are educational apps they can use, which will make them fluent in Mandarin so that by the time they’re 4, they can negotiate a new trade agreement with China for President Trump.

This study, which was probably paid for with taxpayer dollars from retirees, said that grandkids spend half their time playing with video devices when they visit their grandparents. Is that a bad thing? What do they expect us to do? Take them to the Senior Center for a game of canasta?

The study, which was published in the Journal of Children and Media, was conducted by Rutgers University and Israel’s Ben-Gurion University and focused on youngsters 2 to 7. Researchers, who conducted 356 adult interviews, claim that “during each four-hour visit, kids spent an average of two hours either playing games or watching videos on devices such as tablets, computers and cell phones.” Whose idea was it to give cell phones to kids this young?

The study said that Gramps was more permissive than Granny. (I suspect that most of the grandparents were afraid the kids would beat them up if they took away their video toys.)

“These findings raise concerns regarding young children’s media use under their grandparents’ watch,” the authors concluded.

The research was compared to another study by the University of Calgary, which surveyed 2,441 mothers, and found that kids, 2 to 5, were using devices two to three hours a day under their parents’ guidance. Even though I have trouble balancing my checkbook and almost flunked calculus, I have enough smarts to know that is like comparing apples and kiwis.

I would classify this as “fake research.” Using my finely honed reportorial skills, I would ask these questions: Who bought the youngsters the tablets, video games and cell phones? (Mom and Dad, of course.) How old were they when they got them? (Six months old, I suspect.)

My grandkids live in homes where television is always on. It’s probably PBS, which is supposed to be OK because they’ll watch “Poldark” and “Victoria” or anything where people have British accents.

One grandson, who is glued to the set, watches shows like “Dino Dana” and “Stinky and Dirty.” If he’s a good boy, my son-in-law rewards him and he gets to watch the Democratic presidential debates.

I admit that as a youngster, I spent Saturday mornings in cartoon alley, watching Mighty Mouse and Woody Woodpecker, at least until my father kicked me out of the house to cut the lawn, which was an effective way to control my screen time.

Let me say this. I tend to spoil our grandkids. I even gave my grandson Mike and Ike candy because I got worried when he told me broccoli was his favorite food. I figured there was something wrong with that.

Anyway, this societal problem can be easily solved. Parents should watch their own kids and let us geezers play Scrabble and eat our Mike and Ike in peace.

Joe Pisani can be contacted at joefpisani@yahoo.com.