Seriously?!?! I had to pull out the grounding card on day 2?
The invention of convenient, portable mini- video game and TV consoles are a genius babysitter that pacifies chatty, bored or rambunctious children. They are educational, amazing little computers that have blown the minds of generations past.
Ok, this is where I am coming from... when there is an unlimited free-flow of tablet or video games, self discipline goes out the window. My children neglect simple things like eating, picking up or interacting with each other, which in itself is mind boggling to me, but the culmination of these behaviors creates one giant adolescent asshole (or two or three). This "play time" turns into fighting, throwing things, mean words, nasty muttering, and eye rolling-- and this was just how it started when I suggested it was time to turn them off and go outside to play. After my more firm insistence of "unplugging" (which in itself is hilarious since they run on a 8+ hour lithium batteries), nobody wanted to play ANYTHING WITH ANYONE.
What was happening here???
I couldn't take it anymore. "That's it. You are DONE. NO MORE ELECTRONICS, don't even ask!". This one statement turned my 10 year old child into a blob of sniffling jell-o. His answer (which I'm sure in his mind made perfect sense at the time) was to display his misery in every aspect of his life, hoping to, in turn, make mine miserable too. He would slink around the room crying and mumbling how unfair life was, he refused to play any games with his friends outside, became nasty to his siblings and just tuned out the world. I gave him the choice to play with his friends or he could weed my entire back yard. He chose the latter, thinking it would spite me I suppose, but really I was relieved that I didn't have to do it myself. Later on, he refused to eat his dinner, but quickly came around when he evaluated his hunger and the non-effect it was having on me.
After a 24 hour detox from his iPad, something magical happened. He became a completely different child. He created a game he could play with his brother, outside of all places, laughter and real conversations were happening with other children, he willingly did chores and even did things before I had to ask. The BEST part of it all was that the incessant ASKING if they could play completely died down. I am still a little stunned by the behavior shift, but for now, I will ride this one out. Turns out, and electronic detox is good for everyone!
Now lets be real, I'm not grounding them for life, or even a week; they will get screen time, but I have decided that I am going to set limits on non-social summer activities. I don't want to get down to having a schedule or put them on a timer, but I do want to make it clear that there is not an open-ended allowances for non-interactive electronic play. I am encouraged to continue the quiet mornings with no questions about updating apps or entering passwords while I'm trying to turn on my Keurig with one eye open.
Let's get back to letting kids play outside for open ended hours at a time, creating games without being given so much as a theme, singing songs, free playing with no boundaries, taking off on their bikes and meeting other children in the neighborhood, setting up lemonade stands, planting things, reading books, and don't forget- staying out until dinner time!