I’ve Turned My Kids Into Addicts.
by Kristy Campbell
I’m having one of those beat-yourself-up mom moments. No, not the “oh, don’t be so hard on yourself” kind but a real, honest “I really screwed up on this” moment, and I’m not too proud to admit to my mistake.
My son stormed out of the office tonight and threw a monster fit because I kicked him off the computer for the evening. As I heard him walking to his room muttering under his breath about how unfair life is and how unfair it is that his brother got to play longer, I had the harsh realization that this is my fault. After all, I’m the one that introduced him to this drug in the first place.
Screens are a powerful drug for boys. Had I known this when I started using, I would have thought twice about it since I didn’t realize the path I was setting up as I propped the kids in front of a Baby Einstein video (ok, maybe 2) in order to take a shower. Later on, I completely underestimated the power of the Leapster as I wholeheartedly bought into its educational content. When I upped the dose from GameBoys to Nintendo DS systems, it was the beginning of the end. I bought the DS systems for what I thought was a valid reason: to get us to Hawaii without incident. I should have known there was a problem the first morning, when the boys asked to finish one more level instead of jumping up to go boogie boarding. We were done. We were addicts.
I take full ownership because I like the freedom that a hand-held gaming system or episode of SpongeBob brings to me. I can get dinner started, answer a couple of emails, pay bills, or even enjoy a moment of peace and quiet as the kids are drawn into a world of their own. But when I think of the hours that I’ve pushed these screens, I cringe.
My moment of truth came last week in the pediatrician’s office where a copy of a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics said screen time – computer, television, hand-held games, cell phones - should be limited to one hour a day for children. This includes i-pods, iTouch, iAnything. I had to re-read the article to make sure they didn’t mean one hour at a time.
So I did what most moms do and when I got home: I went straight to Google for strategies to detox my kids. Maybe it’s a good thing that - like Grandparent’s Day - I missed the "Turn Off Your TV week" holiday as well. I continued to search but most of the tips were intuitive and not that helpful. Things like:
1. Turn off the television (Wow, insightful.)
2. Set good examples (I live on my laptop, Blackberry, iPhone, so I’m no help here.)
3. Limit screen time (Hmm, might be able to do this.)
4. Talk to your kids about the importance of not being on a screen (No comment.)