Last night, my son did something that caused him to lose his privilege to use the iPad.
My confession: I mourned.
Most parents these days have a love-hate relationship with technology.
We watched a documentary the other night that shared that the stimulation from a game lights up the same areas of the brain as crack cocaine. Not good.
I watch as my son calls his 75 year-old grandmother on FaceTime and she joins his Roblox world where they play video games together, talking and laughing even though they are physically located thousands of miles apart. (Just a side note here, I think it is radically cool that my mom is playing Roblox with her grandson. #NotYourTypicalGrandma). Very good.
My son is an only child. I can’t tell him to go outside and play with his brother. Having been an only child myself, I found enjoyment in books back in the dark ages when Atari and Nintendo were the latest tech inventions. And, I’ll admit, I had some pretty stellar pretend friends until I was six.
Yet, when my son is banned from the iPad, he and I both go into a bit of a swirl wondering what to fill that new-found time with. Historically, filling open time involves me.
Does my willingness to support his tech-friend make me a bad parent? Maybe.
What it made me realize last night is that I’m not yet a bad parent, but I can be a more conscious parent. I can access the thousands of resources available on (yep, you guessed it) technology to find alternative activities.
I’ve taken the easy way out too long.
And, if my pals reading this ever want a cute and respectful 8-year-old to come over and play, he’d choose a friend over the iPad any day.
In that fact, I find hope that I haven’t ruined him…yet.
*If you’re willing to share your go-to sites, ideas for non-tech activities, and helpful hints, I’d be forever grateful.
Hhhhmmmm, I’ll be interesting to see what other parents post as I’m sure I can borrow some tips for when my 2 kids earned time alone. In the meantime, here are some thoughts and things that I’ve tried. Hope they help!
1. Take him to the library on Saturdays – there are many free, yeap FREE programs at the library that at this age they can enjoy. And the best part is that you can get to hang around with free wi-fi to catch-up on anything or bring a book alone and have some solo time.
2. Make the electronics time a privilege. At home, I try to enforce that they have to earn it and they know that at any moment, I can take it away. Giving electronics always come with a ticking clock (depending on how much time I want, it’s the time that they get)
3. Tap on their hobbies. Does he like reading? Writing? Painting? Building legos? Learning on his own? Be creative here, you can borrow books from the library and he can explore. Planning a trip? Get the kids version of where you’re going and ask him to read and then tell you where he wants to go and why
4. Old school: letters – yeap! He enjoys playing Roblox with grandma? What about writing letters to her? I’m sure it will be a nice memoir finding those treasures later on of what he wrote, how he expressed himself, and see how his writing has changed (I’m a softy on this so a date must always be included so I know how old they were)
5. Bubble bath – this gives me 30-40 mins for myself always. At the end you can do some bubbles for him. They’re never too old for that ;D
6. Google – have you tried to looking for safe activities for a child that don’t require adult participation?
7. Reading – this one is repetitive from above but I love it! Even my son that has pushed back on me now will grab a book borrowed from the library and read by himself
8. User timers – tell your son that mommy (and daddy) need some adult time and that he can play in his room for the next TBD. In the meantime, he’s only allowed to come outside to use the bathroom. Of course, time it wisely so he’s not tempted to be asking for a snack
9. DVD players – let him watch a movie by himself in his room. Break the rules and bring some popcorn for him (even I, yeap, you read it correctly have done so). We have a cheap DVD player that we use on road trips. That way he’s not connected to internet
10. Solitaire cards – kids are a lot smarter than we think. What about teaching him this game? And then he can tell you how many he won by himself?
11. Puzzles – age appropriate (i.e. no 750+ pieces or a family puzzle), something that he can do by himself
12. Circuit toys – the trick here is for him to practice them by himself so he can later show you. Not every time he does one b/c then this will defeat the purpose
Oh my gosh. These are wonderful tips, my friend. Thank you for sharing with me and sharing with others. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.