Better Off Well
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INSIGHTS

How One Mom Changed The Rules

A friend posted this on Facebook a few weeks ago. Since I took away the iPad from H a month ago the boys' creativity has flourished. It's so nice to see them playing with their toys and balls and sometimes all of them at once.

Lately I've been thinking of my own son and his addiction to the game of Minecraft. While he's allowed to play only the weekends, and does that for a total of a couple hours, it's all he wants to talk about. With me, with his friends, and with anyone else who will listen. He reads a lot and we're active, but he doesn't draw like he used to and he's no longer turning cardboard into Ninja nunchucks or M-Land Spy 3200 Series Aircraft Carriers.

Is this an age thing or something else?

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So I was curious when I read Jennifer's post and asked her to tell me more about it. It was a little heartbreaking to hear what inspired her to make changes...

My sons are 7 and 5 and active. They're outside playing lacrosse as I write. They play sports all year, and when we stay at the beach over the summer, they're outside riding bikes all day.

Still, they are obsessed with our iPad and would play it 24 hours a day if I let them!

A few months ago, I hit my limit with their addiction. Play time increased over the winter, and they'd be on it during the whole four-hour ski trips up to Maine. They woke up early and jumped right on, then bickered with each other about who'd had more time.

I think my breaking point was what I saw one night when we were out to dinner. There was a family beside us with a girl, about 3 or 4. She had an iPad at the table and her eyes never left the screen during the entire meal. Her mother mouth-fed her pizza and then spoon-fed her ice cream afterward. Never once did the girl look away. As they walked away, her eyes were still glued to the screen.

 

Soon after that dinner, my older son was mean to his brother. When I went to take the iPad away, he gave me flack.

"This is enough," I said. "You are done. No more iPad for a month."

(Jennifer and the boys were three weeks into the punishment when she wrote this.)

Lately, the boys' behavior is night and day. Before this, the boys would have jumped on as soon as they woke and drained their brains on games a couple hours before school. Now they're pulling out toys again! They build with Legos and airplanes and make up games. As the weather improves, they're playing lacrosse and soccer in the yard before they head to school.

 

After school looks much the same. Last week they tried to catapult a soccer ball perched on a skateboard into the basketball net by hopping onto the skateboard. I loved the creative and analytical thinking.

They're still typical boys and continue to fight and wrestle about everything. But when they do it now they have different outlets to express themselves other than slamming an expensive device on the table. They are running around and throwing balls at each other. The house is messy with toys again, too, but I'll take a messy house with happy and active kids than a clean one with bickering and addicted kids any day.

*Note: Jennifer has allowed the boys to have access to the iPad again, but time is limited now and some games have been removed and replaced with educational ones.