January 29, 2013 by talkaboutyork
If you have boys aged anywhere between 6 and 12 you will probably have watched the ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ films. There is one film (I forget the title) in which the lead character Greg Heffley breaks up for summer holidays and has plans to play video games ALL SUMMER LONG. He has to pretend to his dad that he is actually playing sports outdoors. His dad cottons on and tries to get him to take part in a bunch of ‘super fun’ activities like fishing and scouts. Greg hates it. The dad hates it. Generally life is easier if he was just left to play his video games.
I watch that film and secretly cheer that it’s not just my children who would rather kill aliens on a screen than charge about outdoors. And it’s not just me that finds ‘spending quality time’ playing countless games of Monopoloy or Risk or Chess
fucking very dull.
But Screen Time is becoming a BIG issue in our house.
When they were little, we had limits on how much TV they could watch. These days TV is sooo passé. TV is now the default fall back position when all other screens have been banned. They actually view having to ‘just watch TV’ as a punishment.
The screen of choice is the ipad, my old one. They fight over it. They are obsessed with ‘just checking it’ you know in case a dragon egg has hatched or a creeper (or whatever) has entered their building on Minecraft. They can’t possibly get dressed/clean their teeth/look up. Life as we know it stops when they are on the ipad.
If, as invariably happens, they start fighting over who is going to kill the next zombie on the ipad, it gets confiscated. They immediately start fighting over who can go on my laptop. If I need the loo perhaps, or have to make dinner, the minute my back is turned, they have pounced on the PC to play Friv (I don’t even know what that is except to say that it has seriously annoying music). They claim that they are on Mathletics, but they’re not. Of course I’m not organised/clued up enough to get the correct filters/protection on the PC so who knows what they see. (Note to self: look into that).
An aside: in case you’re wondering what 8 year old boys like looking at on the internet, it is Minecraft videos on Youtube. Quite possibly the most dull things you will EVER see. That and One Direction videos. Or Gangnam Style anything.
If I ban that, they either try to play on my phone (which has virtually no games on it but they like to arse around with the pictures so that I get an array of warped photographs as my home picture) or they play on the Wii. Apparently Wii’s are now babyish and uncool though. Good to know given they just got a bunch of Skylanders for Christmas.
They also have Nintendo DS’s but these are largely ignored unless we travel somewhere. And the older one saved up his money to buy himself a second hand ipod touch which he never uses.
The thing is, I want to get rid of the lot. I cannot stand how addicted they are to these screens. I do my very best to limit them but it is impossible to police them all the time and my alternatives are (as mentioned above) to play Monopoly, Risk or Chess. Not a massive incentive on my part.
What happened to the days when children entertained themselves using their imaginations? I’ve threatened to sell all their toys as they NEVER play with them. Do you know what they said? ‘As long as we can have the money to buy new games.’ Sigh
Now the oldest is about to have a birthday and he wants an Xbox because (and I quote) he is ‘THE ONLY BOY IN THE WHOLE SCHOOL WHO DOESN’T HAVE ONE’. (As I mentioned, they only have a Wii – poor ickle things). If I’m not prepared to give him that, he wants his own phone because (and I quote again), he is ‘THE ONLY BOY IN THE WHOLE SCHOOL WHO DOESN’T HAVE ONE’. Who is a 9 year old going to call?? It is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
Apparently he’s also the only boy in the whole school who isn’t allowed to watch James Bond Quantum of Solace or play on Call of Duty. I am, by all accounts, the worst and most mean mother on the planet.
I have literally had the child in tears sobbing about how he can’t join in conversations with the other boys as he hasn’t been able to watch/play with something they have. We’ve had long chats about peer pressure (with his seven year old brother helpfully piping up with ‘Just say no dude’). And the dangers of too much screen time. And how many other fun things there are to do in the world besides staring at a screen, to no avail. I have even turned into one of those lame parents who bangs on about how the starving children in Africa don’t even have food to eat and they’re whinging about the merits of an xbox over a wii. First world problems kiddos.
I really don’t know what to do about this. How do you limit the screen time successfully without it becoming a daily battle? How do you decide what they can and can’t play on/watch when everyone else is apparently doing it? Am I being a mean mum or am I being too lenient?
If you could post me your answers the old fashioned way, that would help me avoid looking at a screen but in the interest of speed, please feel free to comment below.