The next installment of reintroducing electronics into our nine-year old Hare’s life…
For why we took it all away in the first place, check out: No Electronics Here: Why we cut Electronics from our Children’s lives.
So, the Hare turned nine early January and we gave him the dvds of ‘James May’s Toy Stories.’ He got to watch the first programme where a plasticine garden is created for the Chelsea Flower Show. It’s not a very exciting programme, sorry James; but it’s also not violent, rushed or any of those other things which parents might dodge with screen time choices.
That night the Hare couldn’t sleep. Now, in fairness it was his birthday, he had also eaten a lot more ‘rubbish’ food than normal, had lemonade (unusual) and some horrid looking red drink. (Red food colouring is one of his triggers.) So, we couldn’t say that the non-sleeping was due to screen time alone. He was a bit manic the next day, but again who was to say that wasn’t him coming off the ‘junk’ food high or because of the late night…So a week later, he got to watch another episode.
Immediately afterwards he had big dark rings under his eyes. And his speech was like a tommy-gun – fast and hard. He couldn’t make eye-contact easily – his eyes kept slipping all over the place when he spoke to me, and he was violent toward the Owl – in a random, I don’t know what my body is doing kind of way. His movements weren’t smooth or purposeful, but manic and like he wasn’t really in control of himself. And he struggled to get to sleep that night. He was clearly experience some degree of stress…a lot to be honest. He took a few days and nights to calm down to his usual gorgeous self. His reaction was so intense, that I said he wouldn’t be having any electronics the next week. He was fine with that decision, and understood his reactions were not acceptable behaviours. He can logically and rationally discuss the whole thing, when he’s not under the influence.
The problem we now have is: he has to learn to manage for himself. (Which is why we were reintroducing it slowly.) He is nine. Electronics are pretty much everywhere. We can’t/won’t be there to hold his hand and keep him in a quiet, non-pixelated environment all his life. He needs to learn to manage for himself – either by managing his reactions or by avoiding electronics. But like all addicts, it’s a struggle. Factor in the fact that he is nine, and it’s nigh on impossible. And allowing him some has been like opening a flood-gate – he just wants more and more.
Some is not enough for him. Some gives us a stressed child with revolting behaviour. But some also means he has more of a connection with his peer group, and isolating him from his peers isn’t something we want to do.
So, tell me…please – what would you do?
Part Three available here: Re-Introducing Electronics: Part Three – Calm?