This post originally appeared on Mamapedia but, given last Friday’s post on Apps for a Low Media Household, I figured it was worth sharing again.
I knew I looked insane.
Not the look you want when it comes to your first meeting with your son’s new preschool teacher. I tried not to come across as THAT parent when I grabbed her arm and desperately whispered, “You don’t understand, my son is obsessed with the computer.” The teacher assured me it would be okay and patted my arm with a, “bless your heart,” which is the Southern equivalent of _”you are acting idiotic”.
You see, this year, in his Blue Whale class, my 4-year-old son has a computer in his classroom. It is one of the elective stations he can choose when free time starts.
Let me say I am not the sort of mom who is against screen time as a general rule. I don’t often engage my children in mind-expanding, Pinterest-inspired activities and art projects. Thus, I needJake & the Neverland Pirates to give me a calm moment in the midst of a crazy afternoon.
Yet we struggle in our house with finding balance and knowing the right fit for our children when it comes to this issue.
I don’t know if folks can grasp how much of a problem we have with my son and screens. Honest truth: because of a LeapPad my son on someone else’s bed. He was playing with a borrowed LeapPad and didn’t want to stop playing. So instead of taking the time to pause the game, he just peed.
I hate to say “I told you so” (okay, actually, I love it) but sure enough, my son has had epic meltdowns in the classroom when it comes time to stop playing on the computer. All stations are a timed event. When the bell dings, the children have to move on to the next station, regardless of whether or not they have completed their play. My son cannot separate from the glow of that screen.
I feel for the teacher, I do. I don’t know what the solution is. We have tried timers at home, too; we have tried tickets he can control; we have done positive reinforcement (the few times it has been an option) for good behavior; we get him outside to play a lot; we limit screen time at home.
And that last point is why I am wracked with mom guilt about this screen-obsession issue. Have I created this beast?
My husband and I decided years ago to be pretty strict about screen time and computer time in our house, with both of our children. My sons get 1 hour of TV a day, they do not own computer devices of any sort (LeapPads, tablets, iPhones, iTouch, iAnything), and as a general rule they do not touch our smartphones or tablets.
We made the personal decision that they have plenty of time in life to be in front of a computer (apparently that starts at the Age of 4 in Preschool). We agreed that soon computers would become necessary to their lives and so, while they were young enough, we were going to keep these devices as much out of their daily lives and habits as possible.
My question is: have we created this issue? Have we ignited the age-old “I want what I can’t have” response in my 4-year-old? Is my son just yearning for the unobtainable?
Or is it that some kids just have a hard time separating? Are some kids more entranced with the screen than others? Have we been given a child who, no matter how prevalent screens are in his life, would be content to sit and game away all day?
We mean well but if you have any suggestions on how to get my son off the “glow-of-the-screen juice,” let me know. In the meantime, I am headed in for a preschool parent/teacher conference. Guess I should pack up my laptop and cell phone, right?