The kids are not alright
Are your kids on screens more than they’re off? Is the guilt eating you up as you try to balance their screen time with your work? Or just the preference for screen time over outdoor time?
Homeschooling, housework and juggling jobs
Family and friends have been sending me articles to help ease my guilt. They know I am gutted by my daughters unbelievable amount of screen time. Between homeschooling, games and connecting with friends over Facebook Kids Messenger, everything is a screen. It is not making me feel better. It does not make me feel less guilty. It does make me feel helpless.
At first the idea of not going to school was an elation for my daughter. It was a complete nightmare for me. I am permanently stunted at about a grade 2 math level and my daughter is in grade 3. I was not built to teach and COVID has taught me that in spades. As time goes on she misses her friends, routines, hugging her grandparents and just being able to go to a park. She misses the way life was. Change can be scary. My biggest fear is that when this is over, we’ll be unable to deny the negative impact on the mental health and mindset of our children.
Where did my kid go?
As the weeks turn to months, I see a change in Maddie. She used to be the ‘Tigger’ of our street, always jumping around and never sitting still. We’d watch her play on monkey bars, skip, bike, run, swim and we’d say, ‘for sure she’ll sleep tonight!’ and yet come bedtime she was still full of energy. Today getting her to go outside is a bigger challenge than getting her to sit down and do her schoolwork. She partially fears COVID. We understand that. However she would prefer to sit in her ‘girl cave’ downstairs and watch TV or connect with friends on her iPad. That’s after about 2-3 hours of schoolwork daily. At night she watches TV. Screen….screen….screen.
I screen. You screen
A few weeks ago, I started to try to limit her screen time. When we pull her off a screen we instantly see a difference in her personality. She goes from excited gamer to grumpy, moody and tired 8-year-old going on 16. My work got busier and the screen time came back. Where is the balance???
Kids at my daughters age (8 years old) love to play – LOLS, Shopkins, etc. They don’t enjoy sitting around and having serious discussions 6 feet apart. It’s not how they relate at this point. So, when they see each other, they’re sometimes at a loss of what to do. They’d rather come back inside. Here they connect with each other on Roblox or Minecraft. Inside and on screens is where they can talk and play at the same time. And back to the screens we go!
I’ve received many articles that remind me it is the same around the world. What can be done? But I have PTSD. I know that learned behaviours acquired now to deal with buried emotions can stay with us. We can say ‘well that’s because of COVID’ but the source of the trauma will no longer be the problem. The issue will be untangling this behaviour years down the road. These behaviours can lead to depression, addiction and other issues that can accompany traumatic experiences. And is COVID traumatic to them? It’s hard to say. It’s hard to get kids to talk about it or even understand their feelings on this. It’s hard for us to even understand our own behaviour.
We know there will be a negative impact from too much screen time. We talked about this a few years ago about smartphones and the potential damage to our kids mental health. It is a real thing and the reason behind it (COVID) isn’t going to change the outcome.
Would I say my daughter is becoming depressed? Yes. And what can I do about it? Please tell me. Please send me THOSE articles. The reality is the kids are not alright. We have to find a way to help them through this with as minimal emotional damage as possible. And we have to be able to look after ourselves, our livelihood and our work at the same time. Saying they are resilient isn’t cutting it for me. I was a kid once too. I was resilient too but there is only so resilient they can be and for so long.
Is your child struggling? Do you have any advice on ways we can help them through this pandemic without the constant use of screens? Are you worried about the kids?