For me, each day, parenting is a battle.
Sounds negative, I know, because my children are not my enemy. I love them with every breath that I pull into my lungs, and I think all three of them are amazing and wonderful.
But I fight them every day on one topic – screen time. Nothing seems to create more drama, angst and volatility in my relationship with my kids than this issue. They want more, I want less.
I am coming to believe that at least one of my children has a bona fide addiction problem to screen time. No consequence I can dole out is worse than taking away even 15 minutes of her allotted time. This child would choose picking up ugly pounds of dog feces in our backyard (long my most hated chore as a child) over losing minutes to spend on YouTube.
I recently explored the issue (ironically by Googling screen addiction) and found these nine warning signs your child may have a screen addiction. You may want to ask yourself these questions.
• Is it hard for my child to stop using screen media?
• Is screen media is the only thing that seems to motivate my child?
• Preoccupation – Is screen media are all my child seems to think about?
• Does my child’s screen media use interfere with family activities?
• Does my child’s screen media use causes problems for the family?
• Does my child become frustrated when he/she cannot use screen media?
• Does the amount of time my child wants to use screen media keep increasing?
• Does my child sneak using screen media?
• When my child has had a bad day, does screen media seem to be the only thing that help him/her feel better?
I would say there’s a problem in my household. It is a difficult issue to solve, because I also have an internal battle with screens. In this job, I need to be connected so I am checking my iPhone frequently – even when I am off work – in order to stay on top of things.
I do realize I need to be willing to practice what I preach.
That is why I am grateful to the Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap for initiating and continuing to promote their annual Unplug and Play Family Literacy week, which encourages all of us to put away the screens and interact with other living, breathing humans. This week, I will be talking with my family and trying to come up with ways we can try to achieve a better balance for the screen time in our lives.
It’s a battle worth fighting.
-Tracy Hughes is the editor of the Salmon Arm Observer and Eagle Valley News