We just got back from a couple days of camping. During that time, I saw two of my girls playing like the best of friends – no fighting, no whining, just fun and love.
Today is a whole different story. Its only 1pm and I’ve broken up a couple of fights, given 2 different sets of time outs, dealt with a door pulled off one of our older cabinets and listened to yelling and crying and mean words.
What gives?? Well, approximately 2 hours of television this morning – that’s what.
Like many parents (whether you want to admit it or not), I have a love-hate relationship with TV and tablets. Most times, I hate them and wish I could remove all the devices from our home. My husband doesn’t necessarily share this sentiment with me. But other times, I’m thankful for the peace it can bring and the few lessons that can be learned from the right shows and apps.
I also want to ensure my kids are able to function in a new age society where technology is used for many of life’s daily tasks. They actually need to know how to operate these devices to function one day.
But I see first hand, the effects that screen time has on my kids – mostly, my middle daughter who has ADHD. I notice a significant change in her behaviour – 90% of time time – when she has had any form of screen time. She becomes a zombie – an addict to the stimulation – when I ask her to shut it off, its always “One more minute”. Then, when the device has been turned off or removed, she struggles to relate to others, getting upset over normal behaviours/situations with us or her sisters. This leads to her often isolating herself – really unable to adapt to the reduced stimulation and the social situations. It also leads to frustrations on our end, fuelling the struggle.
I try as much as possible to avoid it. I truly do.
My challenge is finding that balance within the family. Any amount of time will impact T, but I can’t not allow the other kids some screen time just because of my one daughter. And I can’t remove her from her sisters so that they can watch television and not have her impacted. My husband still enjoys watching television (me not so much), and I’m mostly on devices (laptop and phone) for work and personal.
Plus as I mentioned – these are going to be a normal part of everyones lives soon enough – kids and adults alike. How many kids have iPads these days, or often get access to their parent’s devices? We’re going through a huge cultural and technological shift that we can try to resist, but will ultimately be required to live.
So we continue to struggle with this – helping T to manage her sensory issues post screen time and really putting firm limits in place for the other kids. All 3 kids have time monitors on their devices for the wi-fi access which cuts it off after a certain amount of time, this we can also do with the Netflix on our TV. But we are also trying to simply keep them busy with activities the summer and also giving them the space and boredom to use their imaginations. Once they get started – its hard to get them to stop – including making a huge mess (which drives my husband insane – more on those difference another time).
But still, with all the different devices in the house, I don’t see a “one-size-fits-all” answer to my struggle right now, I’m writing this because I’m sure there are a few other parents out there who are also struggling with this. And I’m sure you are also trying to find the right balance. If you have any thoughts or solutions, help a mother out and let me know…pleeease??
In the meantime, the television is off, the devices are put away, my kids are now done their time outs, but are spending some time in their rooms quietly – actually allowing me to write this. We are going to spend the rest of the day “sans tech” and hope for the best.