This is my darling, stubborn, amazing, wonderful, and strong-willed 7 year old daughter, Lizzie. She just fell in love with a new computer game – SIMS. She creates characters, watches YouTube videos about how to play it better. At first I was like, “her cousin plays it, she is understanding words to describe her feelings and personality, it’s a fun way to pass her free time.”
I also have a rule: each child is allowed two hours per day of screen time. This includes movies, tablet games, and computer games. The only exception to this rule is if we have family movie night.
Well, Saturday I had to work from 9:30-2pm. As usual, Lizzie woke up and started to play her game first thing in the morning, around 8:30am. When I left, I didn’t monitor her screen time. When I got home, she was still on the computer. I was exhausted and needed a quick nap, so I let her stay on the computer for another hour. All in all, Lizzie and David were on the computer (off and on) for about six hours. SIX HOURS. They are 7 and 5 years old. The mommy guilt I felt for that fail was immense.
I am ruining my children. They are going to be screen-addicted zombies! Quick, make them read, make them play, put them outside in the sun!
I took them to the park and we played until the sun set. Mommy guilt eased up with each toy they played on.
Sunday morning, I just could not wake up. And when I finally did (around 10 am) I looked at the time. They had been on their computers since 8am already. Two hours, used up. I told them as soon as their movie ended, the screens were off, the two hours was up.
You would not believe the screaming, the torment, the agony!
They eventually played together. Happily, I might add. A few fights, but the house was cleaned, they were outside, they were off the computers.
But my Lizzie. My sweet little Lizzie. She missed her Sims game. So when bedtime rolled around, and she could not fall asleep right away, guess what she did? As soon as I fell asleep, she played on the computer. Until she couldn’t stay awake any longer.
I didn’t know she did this. Until I got a call from school today.
“Hi, Annie? Yeah, this is the school secretary. We have your daughter in the office. She said she is too tired to stay at school and wants you to come pick her up. Should I make her go back to class or do you want to come see her?”
I went to see her. She cried and admitted to getting out of bed and sneaking computer time. She begged me to take her home. She wanted to take a nap, then, when she felt better, to play on her computer.
I had to laugh at the absurdity. I gave her two choices: Stay at school then take a nap and play for an hour after school or come home and be sick in bed with no computer until tomorrow.
I do feel extremely responsible. If I had only enforced this rule better! Lizzie is the kind of girl that prefers to experience natural consequences instead of just trusting me in obedience. I hope she can learn to self-regulate her time on the computer. Or at least stay in bed after lights are out.
I need ideas. Since I have 3 children, each with a fondness for technology, how do I monitor 3 screen times on the weekend? Maybe create a log book and write down when they started and when they stop? Any other ideas?