Friday, July 4, 2014

"I'm up to Level 5"

I wrote the middle section of this in mid-June, but I was too overwhelmed by the end of school, and frankly, nervous I wouldn't follow through to post it.  Here goes...
*      *        *      *      *

Dear Daniel,

Years from now you will read this and hate me all over again. I know, I'm sorry. I love you, Mom

Is managing "screen time" the bane of modern parenthood, or is it just me?!

This Saturday I took my son's i-pad privileges away, forever.  That afternoon, after a long, tearful conversation, I gave them back... With the understanding that I just. cannot. keep. arguing. about. it. anymore.

This morning I find him standing at the table, ignoring my requests for him to eat his breakfast, playing Minecraft/Star Wars Lego/Whatever game he is into right now.  Morning screen time has been forbidden in our house, for like, forever.  So I pulled the i-pad away, and threw his breakfast on the table.

He protested, yelling, "But I'm up to Level 5!"

To which I yelled back, "I don't care!" And then I slammed some things around for a while.

It's June, it's the end of the year school, and I have no patience (or maturity, it seems) left. AT ALL. I have about a 9 month supply of patience for a 10 month school year.  I'm all out.

But seriously, what we do about screen time? 

We've tried some different approaches. When Daniel first got the i-pad for his birthday last year, we let him use it all he wanted. Which led to hours long sessions of game playing and Netflix watching. After a few days of that, we started limiting him. And then the fighting started. And it pretty much has not stopped since.  Lily now joins in, and they battle over both our tablet devices with intense passion.

I've tried pointing out that they don't fight for or over any other toy they own. I am met with blank, incredulous stares.

I've tried pointing out how much MORE fun they could be having with: any. other. toy/ each other/ out doors. I'm met with angry, incredulous stares.

I've tried setting timers, making screen time a reward for behavior goals, putting up firewalls and passwords. I've threatened to toss them in the garbage. I've taken screens away for days at a time.

Still the fighting continues. I'm exhausted.  And I think it's ridiculous. I mean, I don't set timers to limit how much they play with Barbies or Beyblades!...

And then I remember... they see me with my phone. All. Day. Long. It does little good to tell them that I'm reading or sending a text to their dad or working.  I have unlimited screen time. No one is telling me "time's up!", not even me.

So what do I do... let them loose? Give them unfettered access to the devices? Watch them develop neck cricks and twitchy eyes?

Some people think that kids will eventually get bored by their screens. Since I just flew to Ethiopia and back I happen to know that both my kids can keep going on screens for at least 12 hours. Sleep, who needs sleep when you can watch Frozen 87 times in a row!?!

And they complained when I took the screens away after a full day of using them!

This summer we are going away for a month to heaven the beach. We will not be bringing any devices. My phone has no service there, so I'll turn it off and leave it in a drawer.  I think the person who will have the hardest time withdrawing from the constant comfort of the screen will be: me. What will I do while waiting in line at the grocery store!!!??

So if you have a baby, get married, renovate your kitchen, or see Jesus in your breakfast cereal in July, please email or snail mail me photos because we are going cold turkey this hot summer!

*      *      *       *
snorkeling, so much more fun than mine craft

I am pleased to report that one week into our screen free vacation we are going strong! I do miss the cold comfort of my phone, sadly. It's a very good thing I deleted my Facebook and Feedly apps because despite the terrible service here at the beach I have been tempted to try to check in. Not having the phone with me has forced me to be bored. Which has forced me to think of other things to do besides read what other people are doing. Which is a very good thing, so far.

The kids have had a great time, and there has been no fighting over screens, because there aren't any screens! Today, I admit, it was raining all day, and I turned on the electric babysitter (Thank you, computer screen Netflix!) because after a week of intensely loud family time I really needed to sit with my coffee cup and my book and be by myself for a while.

We will see what August brings, when we return to hellish hot NYC and all our tempting tablets.

How do you handle screen time... your own, or your kids?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Add your comment here. Don't worry about logging in... you can just use your name, and leave the "URL" box blank. Thank you! -Becky