I’ve locked up the telly!
Well, not literally and not all channels, just the children’s ones. Meany mum!
I feel a little bit sorry (not sorry), but having had Cbeebies or Nickelodeon on loop has been slowly driving me potty and has turned my children into whiney zombies.
Crackernut, my 9-year-old, is so addicted to screens that he gets quite stressed without one in front of him. He hops from TV, to iPad, to Xbox, to laptop and back again… ugh! Even when I hide the TV remote or turn it off, he somehow works out a way to turn it on again or digs out another remote from somewhere, or finds new batteries…
His love of telly is so bad that he comes straight in from school, clubs, anywhere and switches it on immediately, then proceeds to hog the remote until we finally wrestle it from his grip. Unless he’s out of the house, he’s in front of the box in his own world. I call him for dinner and he’s late because he’s watching the end of a programme or finishing a football match on his Xbox or iPad.
There are a few things that probably haven’t helped:
First, he’s a natural tech boy. He’s not massively outdoorsy and loves to be at home. He is a whizz with computers and tablets so I wouldn’t be surprised if they feature in his future career. Second, we’ve let him (and the others) be ‘childminded’ by devices while we try to keep up with our busy lives or just have ‘5 minutes’ peace’. I don’t feel too guilty about that, it’s what we all do, but I think in Crackernut’s case particularly he’s enjoyed a bit too much freedom.
Third, I also wonder if his sister’s death meant that we let him do what he liked because, after all, like her he could be gone in a second. That may sound like a weird excuse, but parenting a grieving child – as a grieving parent – makes you overthink everything and stop following every rule you’ve ever made.
As the first day of autumn half-term arrived, I came down in the morning to find him already up (even though I’m dragging him out of bed on a school day), in his usual spot already grumbling about the possibility of having to go out, not dressed and not yet eaten his breakfast (because he was watching telly). Hmm.
Thankfully he’d been invited out at short notice with a friend to do something really fun and while he was excited, I also heard him grumble about getting dressed and having to miss his programmes – yet this was a sort of habitual complaining, not specific to this day. He didn’t have long to get ready and the TV was distracting him so I turned it off and went to get breakfast. Ten seconds later I heard it on again and he was absorbed… ugh! So, while he was out of the house, I password protected all the children’s channels on our Virgin Tivo box so that way he could only watch them if me or his dad agreed.
The first few hours when he came home were painful! For me! Not knowing what to do with himself, he began to be annoying. Jumping around, bugging me about being bored and generally being a pain. I knew his game though, as he’d played it before! He wanted to drive me so crazy that I’d put the telly back on, but I clearly was having a good day as I stayed strong.
I suggested lots of things he could do, including reading one of his new books, but he was against it all. Oh well you’ll have to be bored then! Children simply don’t know how to fill spare time, they have every gap filled with school, clubs, activities, entertainment.
When he realized that I meant business, he went off to play with his Lego, and draw pictures, and read annuals, and sort through his huge Match Attax collection. He still can play his Xbox but that is only when he’s done lots of other stuff outside.
I wonder what the impact would be if I continued my kids’ TV ban for the whole week. Would he get depressed without his telly? Would he feel deprived? Hmm, I doubt it. The programmes he was watching were fun but they weren’t even remotely educational; he’s zoning out, not tuning in. I’ve decided to carry on with the ‘lock down’ as an experiment and at the least I’ll begin to wean him off it.
Part of me says, get a grip woman, you’re the parent here just turn the bloody thing off, but that’s easier said than done these days when all I want is for him to have the happiest days with as little upset as possible. But as with my recent reading challenge, I’ve realized that we’re all developing poor habits that won’t do us any favours in the future. Of course, watch the telly, just like books we can learn so much from it and it can help us to escape the stresses of life, but not to the detriment of living life and expanding our minds in other ways.
Listen to me, smug, no-telly mum at the start of a half term… ‘oh yeah,’ I hear you say, ‘see how long you last…’
I’ll let you know! 🙂
How about you? Do you have a telly addict in your family? Any tips for keeping screen time under control?