I’ve mentioned that I think food is the number one most difficult issue when it comes to parenting. Coming in at a close second: screen time. For non-parents who haven’t been subjected to this before, screen time is the slightly annoying name for the combination of television and computers or games or whatever else your kids do. The whole thing is a giant pain and I’ll tell you why.
1) All parents have different opinions about how much screen time is enough, and it ranges from none to unlimited. We all have to make a decision about this at some point. Then we have to constantly reassess as they get older and find out that things like Angry Birds Star Wars exist.
2) Then we have to navigate that decision with other parents. If your kid watches or plays less, are you being overly precious? If your kid watches or plays more, are you being irresponsible? Are you judging? Are you being judged? Would it be better if you could just keep the whole thing a secret? My kid plays Angry Birds Star Wars. Now you know. Judge away.
3) And we have to navigate the decision with kids. Because their friends are going to have different rules. And they’re going to hear about that. And somebody’s always getting a better deal than yours, which you are going to have to talk about. At length.
4) The negotiations: Five more minutes!! One more minute! Thirty more seconds! No, not yet! NOT YET!!! This process dances gleefully on my last nerve. Truly, as my friend Avril would say, I can’t bear to bear it.
5) To top it all off, kids seem to be crabbier after they turn off whatever screen they were glued to for whatever length of time you’ve decreed. They desperately want to watch a show or play one game on your phone, and when it’s over they start whining right away. Even while you’re still prying the dang phone out of their hands. Clearly they’re just hoping you’ll put them back in front of a screen to keep them quiet. Which you can’t do, because you made a decision about how much is enough. See step one.
From start to finish, it’s terrible. I issued a warning yesterday that any screen-related whining would lead to the removal of screen privileges for a week, and I’m actually half-hoping that it happens, just so I can have a week free of the whole thing. Does this count as screen-related whining?