Is there another member of your family that gets more attention from your teen than either your husband or their siblings? Does this member have such a loving hold over your teen that they won’t even tear their eyes away from that member for the joy of a summer night time swim at the beach or a massive burger with the family at a great restaurant?
Yes, it’s that darn interloper wedging itself between you and your family peace and equilibrium – the internet. Its running riot through your home and your patience and causing you no end of wrangling, tears and frustration. Even that bloody noisy dog is easier to manage.
Do they have to be glued to it for soooooo many hours a day? Do they have to be spooned out of their room to stack the dishwasher, mow the lawns and take the trash out, EVERY BLOODY TIME you ask.
“but Mum I need to finish this game right now, I am a storm-trooper on Gmod and will lose my job ! “.
“but Mum all my mates are talking about their Steam scores I beat Ben last night! I need to keep playing…”
“but Mum this is my relaxation time, my downtime.” (you mutter under you breathe, more like your downLOAD time!)
“but Dad I’m talking to my mates what’s the problem with that?” You want me to have friends, don’t you? This is how we socialise today it’s not like your day…. “.
and that old chestnut….
‘But Mum, the internet needs to be on so that I can do my homework!” You want me to get the best marks I can, don’t you?”
Oh boy can they take emotional manipulation to a fine art. I have even been in the classroom at high schools and seen teen boys swap screens with the skill of a magician as the teacher walks past. Why did we ever let the internet into schools ? Really ? A curse more than a blessing surely ?
The recommended time limit per day for teens is 2 hours. The reality is kids do a lot more finger work than that per day. The average 8 year old has up to 8 hours of different screen time modes per day , and teenagers up to 11 hours https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pediatricians-no-more-than-2-hour-screen-time-kids/ . My son could go a marathon any day of the week. It drives me batty. Anything from playing various shooting games and building games to downloading a Netflix movie. He might have a break to play with the dog or read a chapter of his novel, but that is it.
“Look Mum I read a chapter of ‘The Last Mission “(it took him 10 minutes) Can I go online now?
I asked him a few weeks ago if he wanted some friends over for a sleepover, he said no “I have only two weeks to myself.” (What !!?)
Meaning that he would quite easily sacrifice time with real flesh and blood friends for his best friend – the electronic one. This is, despite the fact my son is a normal happy 13-year-old who has great connections and friends at school and plays soccer and karate regularly.
Having said that I love Facebook and Netflix but the chance to be sharing expensive cocktails with my gal pals at the local would win every time. Not my kid. My husband likes video games and I think that may be why it is more of a battle in our household. Monkey see monkey do!
So, what can you do about their precious “me and screen “?
My husband and I set limits on their internet hours. We bought a device that attached to our Internet router which blocks out certain times of the day. The upshot is we can block out time sections for each child according to their needs and patterns. Both children get 3 hours a day 6-9pm (that’s a lot according to my childless friend) however that also includes time for homework. My husband and I say so “use it wisely young Padawan “
Holidays are different we dish it out like lollies according to how well they have contributed to the household chores, cleaned their rooms and read their books. Above all else its currency. If they complain about doing the dishes, then they get no internet that night – and we follow through!
Have a set framework for internet rules that are specific and measurable. Pin it to the fridge . Keep in mind these four points when you are creating your plan .
- Decide how much TV is allowed during the week nights compared to the weekends.
- Decide whether computers, TV’s and mobile devices are allowed in bedrooms.
- Decide how much screen-based leisure time is allowed per day.
- Decide whether to set times of the day where screen time isn’t allowed (e.g. at the dinner table, when guests are over, or in the morning before school or work). https://au.reachout.com/
Reassessing your plan after a few weeks, is important to see what is working and what is not. Sometimes ideas look good in theory but their workable reality in your home may be quite different. Each family has its own set of variables and dynamics and operates as its own individual microcosm.
You need to start this early with them or that internet friendship can turn into a psychopathic co-dependent relationship, almost impossible to modify without a lot of withdrawal, vocal boredom ,and obsessive,comical,but troubling histrionics, big enough to rival any academy award winner. This is a sign they are on the slippery slope and addiction could be around the corner. There are also programs in Victoria such as http://www.gameaware.com.au/ that teach families about the dangers of excessive gaming and will have enough gruesome ” death by video game ” stories to scare the pants off your teen boy ha ! Yes I know we parents can be evil…LOL
Problems with your teen and their new love ?
Call me . I can help you create a workable plan to keep the whole family happy. First consultation is free