We are a technology-friendly house. With two iPads, two smartphones, two laptops, PlayStation, plus television and DVD player, my dudes have a lot of screen-time options. I know the guideline. I recognize the value of those guidelines AND I break those guidelines all the time.
Driven by guilt that I wasn’t tracking their screen-time closely and limiting them to the guidelines given, over the years I’ve introduced and abandoned various technology tickets, tracking sheets, or trading schemes (do X activity and earn X amount of screen time). Most of the time, whatever I introduced lasted for a few weeks before I abandoned it. And it was me, not my dudes. None of the options I tried worked for me, even though the dudes adjusted fairly quickly to all of them.
Here’s the problem. Our life is unpredictable. My life is unpredictable. And sometimes technology is the best option I have to keep my dudes occupied, happy, not-trying-to-kill-each-other, and quiet. Two weeks ago, during a crazy week (one of those holy-crap how did I end up in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, crazy, sad, hard weeks) my boys created the most amazing Minecraft worlds. They certainly had the time because they both had six hours of screen time a day. Then life settled and we started to adjust to a new normal, and that time decreased. But then there was that day last week when I had a report due at work but also had to take the day off to get some important personal work done. That day my boys happily upgraded their Jurassic World dinosaurs for about seven hours.
Most of the time, we don’t have iPads in the morning, except for those four mornings this month when neither my husband or I slept all night and were willing to do anything for an extra hour (including giving the boys their iPads and sending them back to their rooms). Just like sometimes, we don’t let our oldest watch Teen Titans, unless we decide that it’s okay today so binge-away.
We set limits and have rules but those are fluid and boil down to the most wonderful parenting phrases “because I said so” and “it’s a special treat for today.” My boys play outside, build Lego, draw pictures, read books, fight with each other, create massive pillow forts, go to the zoo, make science experiments and help out around the house. But they also build Minecraft worlds, are massive HobbyKids fans, ask Siri all sorts of ridiculous questions, upgrade their digital dinosaurs and hunt for Pokemon.
Technology time is always changing in our house but, then again, so is everything else.
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