Growing up my family didn’t watch TV. We had a TV sure, a colour one and all, it was occasionally turned on for ABC news and that was it. At that stage the place I called home was on a huge rural property, friends I had not many, and distractions were few. Being a somewhat precocious child, I was already a voracious reader by the age of 3, so my days were occupied with story books, board and card games with my grandparents, with whom I lived.
When my mother returned, I was about 8 years old. We moved into the town with her musician boyfriend and we had no TV at all there. However I soon found a friend down the road, and she had a TV in her bedroom, a fact I was in total awe of. Video hits became my obsession, having only been exposed to alternative and classical music at this stage, a whole new and thrilling world of pop opened up. Sometime later we moved again, and I got a TV, but still all I wanted to watch was music videos, though now I had the machine at my disposal, I would stay up every friday and saturday night watching rage until I passed out, never really getting into TV shows, with the sole exception of Buffy the vampire slayer. When I left home to travel at age 15, I lost all interest in TV and pop music.
So years later when I became pregnant, I had no TV, although I did have a laptop and a dvd player. I vowed my children would never watch commercial TV, maybe just educational programs after the age of 2. That lasted all of about 6 months. The firstborn watched Baby Einstein DVD at first, which graduated to pixar films and docos. By the time the second one was born I had given in to ABC for kids programs which soon turned into nickelodeon when I got my first ever flatscreen TV gifted to me for my birthday which happened to come with free foxtel. That was way too much to deal with, and after that finished we had a hiatus from screens.
Which led to the next big development. My oldest son was gifted an iPad. Now had it not been a gift, I’m sure i would not have had one, but I fell for the idea that it had educational games and entertained him on long cartrips. Of course it only took about 4 minutes until his baby brother wanted in on the new technology, so the baby received one as his third birthday present. And pricy educational apps were quickly thrust aside for angry birds and fruit ninja.
Since then its been a love hate relationship, they love it, I hate it. Ok I don’t hate the object specifically, I hate whats on it, or to be precise, youtube. What is with those toy review videos, can anyone shed some light? is there any way to banish them, please I need your help! And minecraft, it seems like a cool game, but the 5 year old is just obsessed with it. He literally forgets to pee sometimes, I have had to ban him from at least 3 times due to this. I have now set time limits on using the device, and all hell breaks loose when the time limit is up. I just feel like throwing the freaking things away sometimes. It is so hard for me to understand the compulsion, me, I feel like vomiting if I have to stare at a screen for more the an hour or so straight.
Sometimes I wish I could go back and never have had a screen for my kids. I know these days life would be near impossible to live without them. I definitely feel guilty denying them screen time when they see me on my laptop or phone, even though I explain I’m doing work (Facebook is work right haha). Its made me more aware of how much time I spend in front of screen these days just to conduct normal daily activities. Feels like a constant battle between good and evil, the past and the future, and I guess we are all just trying to do whats best for our kids, but this issue seems so polarised, it’s hard to feel confident in any decision you make. I want them to learn self control and learn through consequences, it just doesn’t seem to happen at this age. It’s with issues like this it would be helpful to have another parent to discuss things with, but I’m in it alone, so I will have to do my best and hope the boys don’t turn into homicidal sociopathic zombies!