As a young kid, I grew up playing Atari video games (Pitfall and Frogger, anyone?) with my brother nonstop. I also spent endless hours in front of the TV watching game shows and reruns of the Brady Bunch and Eight is Enough. My TV/video game usage wasn’t timed or monitored by my parents in any way.
(Looking back, maybe that unlimited screentime made me the socially awkward person that I am. Or, maybe that’s why I hear the Frogger theme song every time I cross a busy street. ha!)
I honestly didn’t have strong opinions about screen time when our kids were born. We played enough outside to balance out any TV watching or iPad usage. My older two had a pretty good balance.
Buuuuuuuut, my youngest has, unfortunately, had the iPad thrown at him whenever I need to do anything. I need to put away groceries? Play on the iPad! I need to go to the bathroom? Here, play on the iPad! Folding laundry? Here ya go! Five minutes of free time before school? You get the idea.
It had gotten to the point where every second of free time (when we weren’t outside or at school) was on the iPad. It became the first thing that he asked about when we came inside the house or when he first woke up in the morning.
I always used the iPad to distract my youngest while my older two were doing homework or reading. I thought it was the only way to do things. Silly me.
The iPad had become a real problem and it was totally my fault. I needed to ditch the dependency on screentime and I needed to do it pronto.
Two weeks ago I made the decision to eliminate screen time during the week. I’m honestly embarrassed that I didn’t do it sooner.
In the last two weeks, my youngest has colored, practiced his letters, played dress-up with his brother, and played with cars. Sadly, those things were tossed aside when the iPad was available.
Not only does it benefit my kids, but I am now more aware of my own screen time usage when the kids are home from school. We’ve had more real conversations in the last two weeks than we have in a long time.
I’m not saying that ditching the iPad is a good choice for everyone. As noted above, we are only ditching it during the week, so we can still have the benefit of less structured weekends. I think it totally depends on your situation.
Regardless, I’m looking forward to seeing how we connect together as a family without depending as much on screens.