Screen time: how much is too much?

Screen time how much is too much

In an attempt to try and get some sort of handle on the arguments and whining that occurs during the week in our house, and hopefully make the whole homework battle that little bit easier, we’ve recently banned Poss from any sort of tech devices during the week.

I know. I’m actually the meanest mother in the world.

On the whole, it’s been a good move. Despite the cries of outrage each Sunday night as she realises she’s going to have to hand the iPad and the newly acquired iPhone (no SIM card) over for the week.

It doesn’t always work and there are exceptions, of course. We know, through hard won experience, that the iPad provides valuable decompression time for Poss. And there are days when an hour with it, is just infinitely better than a whole day without. So we try and stay firm, but flexible.

What we have found though, is that the second the iPad comes back on a Friday night, she disappears with a vengeance into the screen again, only to surface for food and the occasional toilet break.

It’s her unwind time over the weekend; a time to process the week gone and re-set for the week ahead. Like lots of kids on the spectrum, the iPad is her happy, safe place and there’s no doubt the escape it offers provides relief.

But there comes a point, usually after (many, many) hours of her hiding under the doona with headphones on, when we try and engage with her and it results in grunts and whining, that I find myself losing patience with the whole thing.

Minecraft, Smule Magic Piano, The Sims… the list of apps goes on. She toggles between them all and breaks it up with copious amounts of videos on YouTube. And even when she’s not playing or watching, it’s all she seems to talk about.

In fact, I know more about the lives of some YouTubers, than I do of some of the bloggers I follow myself…

We try to balance it by offering up fun activities away from the screen to tempt her out into the world. Or at least to give her eyes a break for an hour or two.

And when I say offering up, I mean that generally I stand in our hallway, bags packed for a trip to the park, beach, shops, whatever and yell until she drags herself into the daylight and then spends the whole outing begging to be allowed to use the iPad again.

Fun times.

It feels like we’re in that old cliche, stuck between a rock and a hard place.

We know she needs it, but how much is too much? And how do you break it down to keep some sort of balance?

Or am I just over thinking this and should just leave her to do her thing?

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  1. Hmm.. this is a tricky one. Me personally, I would probably suggest that limiting screen time to the weekend is going to make doing anything on the weekend that much harder because she will want to just do that thing she is not allowed to do during the week.

    I also think that for Poss, screen time is a good way of unfilling the cup, so limiting it is actually going to make life more difficult for you during the week. So this is what I would suggest –

    – One hour max of iPad time after all homework, chores, etc are completed.
    – Any whining or misbehavior equals no iPad time for that day.

    I remember playing the original Civilization game for hours upon hours, and I would often sneak out after everyone went to bed to play it some more, meaning I got very little sleep.. 🙂 But I did a lot better during the days after having that decompression time.
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