OK, I’m going to confess to you now that Santa Claus brought the Dreher chirren a Wii for Christmas — and it was a fantastic purchase, for the most part. The kids are getting actual exercise (both boys came out of their rooms on Dec. 26 complaining that they were “sick” — their shoulders hurt from all the virtual swordfighting and boxing they’d been doing), and we’re doing something as a family that we haven’t been able to do yet: play games together that all of us, even the littlest one, can participate in. I’d say it’s a win. I’m amazed that we have a video game that actually makes the kids move, not just sit there. I am also surprised that it’s become something that brings our family closer together, and not in a passive, let’s-watch-this-movie-together way.

It’s going to be even more of a win when we get to Philly, where it’s too dang cold to play outside for long, and our apartment doesn’t have a backyard. I was thinking last night about the technology we’ll want to have in our new apartment. We only use cable for PBS Kids, and the occasional news, Food Network, or History Channel broadcast. We only have it in Dallas because that’s where our Internet service comes from. We’d love to be rid of it, because we simply don’t use it enough to justify the cost … but we also want to get reliable high speed Internet. On the movie side, we’d like to get Netflix on demand on our television, not our computer screens. A friend suggests buying a Blu-ray player — the cheapest one — so we can easily stream the good movies we want to watch into our house.

Is it possible to cherry-pick the media and electronics configuration we want in our place, especially inasmuch as we’re not big users of entertainment media? This Wired magazine story about the most important gadgets and consumer electronics to watch in 2010 makes me hopeful re: the video box.

As ever, the important thing is to maintain <i>control</i> over one’s use of entertainment media. I see these new devices and technologies as offering that. Of course, if all you use it for is to have greater choice over which TV shows you use to fill up every spare moment of your life, it’s not much of an improvement. Five hours of “Masterpiece Theater” a night is maybe marginally better than five hours of “Ugly Betty,” but it’s still too much. Balance!

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