I’d always had a fairly laissez faire attitude about screen time. We’ve all got limited fucks to give, and I had bigger things to worry about than whether my 2-year-old had watched an episode (or five) too many of Dora the Explorer — like keeping my toddler from coloring on the walls and throwing toys in the toilet, for instance.
Other parents seemed obsessed with their little ones watching television too early, or too much, lamenting the fact that they were turning into glassy-eyed zombies. I was all meh, whatevs. In fact, I’m not ashamed to say I might have plunked them down in front of the TV for a hot minute to watch a little Big Bird and Elmo because — damn! — they never stopped moving and they never stopped talking until then. They were like little Energizer Bunnies, and I needed them to CTFD in 22-minute increments now and then so that I didn’t go all the way off the rails.
Television was never really a problem for us. My kids naturally watched in moderation (Energizer Bunnies are like that) and didn’t get too obsessed with it. And now that they’re older, I can watch with them because most of their shows no longer make me want to stab a fork in my eye.
So, no, our problem isn’t the television. It’s the damn tablets, video games, and iEverything because too much of this crap basically turns my kids into little assholes who forget how to properly interact with other humans.
Before you go all sancitmommy on me and start lecturing me about the importance of setting limits, monitoring the content, or worse yet, forbidding all electronics, let me assure you that I am aware of all this, just like every other informed parent out there. I set limits. I pay attention to what they play and watch.
And I’m sorry, but forbidding all electronics is just not practical. So please stop with that.
It’s not that I’m not doing what I should be doing to help them have reasonable limits on their gaming screen time. It’s just that doing so is an exhausting, full-time job that is really starting to wear on my patience.
The requests to play start as soon as my kids wake up in the morning, which coincidentally is when the arguing starts. Before long, we’re on the verge of World War III erupting in the family room over who gets to pick the game and who got more time with his game and can they please just have a few more minutes. Holy hell! Enough! I want to scream. Just stop talking. There’s only so much a woman can take before she’s had her coffee.
Look, I’ve tried it all. I’ve set a timer. I’ve tried a no-electronics-before-school rule. I’ve threatened to throw the Xbox away (though in my mind I’m thinking, bitch, please). I’ve said “because I said so” and “go ask your dad” more times than should be legally allowed.
I’ve put my foot down and been the asshole parent — for about two days, because Mama needs a break now and then, and electronics are a great babysitter. Sometimes the advice just doesn’t work. Sometimes we don’t have the energy. Sometimes we’re just fed the fuck up with being asked, “Can I play the tablet?” fifteen thousand times a day, so we say “yes!” so we can get 30 seconds of silence and pray that our head doesn’t explode.
Objectively speaking, I will admit that, in the grand scheme of things, my kids have a normal (albeit frustrating) addiction love for electronics and video games. They have spring fever and need to get outside once it isn’t cold as hell. We’ll weather this storm.
But today? Today, I’m pissed off, fed the fuck up, and ready to throw that damn tablet out the window. I do not want to negotiate, or referee, or monitor.
So if you see an older generation iPhone fly out the window, don’t be alarmed. Nothing to see here. Just a mom trying to navigate this whole screen time thing.