Little Man is obsessed with screens of all kinds – iPhone, iPad, Kindle, tablet, television, computer, 3DS, iPod. He loves them all. They are his calming, happy place when everything else becomes too much. He could happily spend every day, all day Minecrafting or watching his favorite gamers on You Tube. He watches hours and hours of Brain Games, Mythbusters, How Its Built, and videos of other people playing games. We’ve used technology as a tool for years to keep him occupied during his siblings’ practices, games, and classes. It. Makes. Me. Crazy.
I hate that he seems to prefer screens to anything else. I get it….the world is frequently too much for him. After six-plus hours at school, he is done with people, noise, “have-to’s”, stimulation. His chill-out-and-recover is to huddle in the corner of the family room between the end table and hearth with whatever screen, and just zone out. Most of the time, I allow it. His therapist suggested we give him his space for awhile after each school day.
It seems to be taking over his life though. I’m at an impasse. I don’t quite know how best to handle it. Yes, it is a calming and soothing technique, a recovery tool, but then there are all the studies on what all that screen time can do to a kid. He has to be bribed and coerced to go outside at all, much less to play with his siblings and kids in the ‘hood he’s been friends with for years. I struggle between keeping him peaceful, and doing what a “good parent” should do. For the past couple of months, he’s been sneaking screens into his room at night, staying up all hours watching Netflix or You Tube. We have a standard house rule of no screens upstairs for kiddos. It’s more an issue of internet safety – they don’t get screens where we can’t supervise what they’re doing or viewing. He continually apologizes for breaking the rule, promises he won’t do it again, and then as soon as I’m in my room, he sneaks downstairs to get his iPod, Kindle, or even his sister’s phone. He’s exhausted in the morning, and it’s extremely difficult to wake him up and get him moving. Now it’s not just an issue of screen time and breaking the rules, it’s an issue of his needing more sleep.
He lost all technology for a week after sneaking his iPod into his room Tuesday night. Ugh. It’s as much torture for me as it is for him. I spend so much time offering suggestions of other things for him to do ie Legos, read his favorite books (again), play chess with his brother, and so on. It’s a daily battle. Again, I’m at a loss. I’m not willing to allow him to mess up his sleep, much less break the rule of screens in his room, but do I fight the battle of screen time after school? Inactivity leading to weight gain is not an issue. Heck, I’d be ecstatic if he gained some weight. He reads at a 12th grade level, and doesn’t struggle in the least with math so his brain turning to mush isn’t an issue either. Is it more me afraid of being labeled a bad parent for letting him have his screens? I go in constant circles in my brain, not to mention the explanations I have to give his siblings when they ask why he has screen time during the week when they do not.
Why doesn’t anyone tell you before having kids how hard it’s going to be?
How do you handle screen time for your kids – if you have special/different needs kids?