When I watch news stories, read articles, and study opinion pieces about the growing struggles between parents and children and device use, I am left feeling so incredibly amped up. The first thing that really bothers me about this particular news cast, in the link provided above, is the upbeat and happy delivery the anchor always has when discussing this topic. It's like smiling and delivering information in an upbeat way if you were talking about heroin addiction. There is nothing upbeat and funny about it. Additionally, the psychologist in the interview has the same Cheshire Cat grin on her face as she delivers the same alarming concerns. She talks about the chemical changes in the brain while your child is watching other children open surprise boxes and play games on YouTube, all the while with a smile on her face. It infuriates me that we talk about this stuff with a giggle in our voice of how we are all so worried and concerned about something, but we laugh about it. Is this a classic case of being uncomfortable with a topic so we awkwardly smile and giggle through it? I don't get it.
Second, I love the brutal honesty from the father in the interview. I can't blame him for being upfront and real. When asked about his kids watching other kids on YouTube his response is: " That's what they wanna do and I let them do it." When asked why, he responds, "Because it's so quiet" as he gestures to his two children in the background wearing headphones and staring at their screens. Hey Dad, I can relate. I was there too once, so I get it. Then, we hear from the children. The young lady says, "He (dad) tries to make the rules and we don't listen." The young boy says, " I start at 4:30 and then it's 8:00." Referring to when he starts on his device and in the blink of an eye nearly four hours pass.
Moving on to my third issue, the father says, he doesn't understand why they watch other kids play the game. Why don't they just play the game themselves. Well, dad, part of it may be because you love how "quiet" it is so why would you ever encourage them to play the game themselves? Seriously. Do you hear what you're saying? Do I sound judgy? You darn right I do. Everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too. We want those devices to simplify our lives and make it so peaceful and keep them occupied, and we want them to walk away undamaged. And we know damage is being done, but we just cross our fingers and hope that it's not a significant amount. We also want them to unplug when we demand it. This often times results in a battle or at the very least, a whine.
Next, the contract. The screen time contract that you must set up with your child. So, the good old days of the verbal contract, which was, "NO" or "Because I said so" is now replaced with this paper contract that you present to your child, discuss with them, get signatures, make sure everyone is feeling good and no one's mad at each other and there ya have it, problem solved. Well, I know I'm not alone when I tell ya there wasn't a contract in the world or a timer that was going to help with my raging and violent son who couldn't disconnect under any circumstances. Listen folks, I know not all children meltdown when screen time is up, but I have had more parents than I care to mention, come to me with the exact same problem I had with my son. I'm not some anomaly. In fact, my situation is more common than uncommon. If it wasn't, why is this such a hot topic in society today? Why is everyone so concerned?
Lastly, we should be sitting down watching YouTube with our kids. Excuse me, I'm a 43 year old woman, trying to save our children from the very thing my entire business is founded on. I'm trying to get our kids out of screens and back to the social and emotional engagement they've been hijacked from. Which by the way, the psychologist speaks to in the story. Additionally, I am modeling for my children and I am super busy and productive doing housework, cooking, running children to their activities, playing with them and growing a business. Why would I ever waste my time watching YouTubers making millions of dollars as I'm working so hard as an entrepreneur? I completely disagree that I need to get on their level and take interest in the YouTube videos they are watching. When the dad in the interview asks, why don't they want to play the game themselves? I don't have to ask that question, because I am playing the game with them. That's my version of YouTube. I'm not self righteous, I'm not mother of the year and I make a lot of mistakes everyday, but I do have common sense. If all the warning signs are there, and every where you turn there's another concern, article, study to the point of nauseum, why do we continue to live out Einstein's definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results?