You don’t have to surf the internet long to find advice (aka, sanctimommies telling you what to do) when it comes to phones, iPads, laptops, etc. and your children. Especially your children with ADHD or any other different-ability (I’m using the term ‘different-ability’ rather than disability just because I want to).
I want to preface this post by saying that I’ve done a lot of it wrong. Most of it. We’re here to be honest, right? I hope so, ’cause you need to know that my advice rolls in on the heels of terrible parenting choices.
My son, JP, loves his iPad. Like, really loves his iPad. If his iPad and I were hanging off the edge of a cliff and he could only choose one thing to save, I’m pretty sure he would kiss me good-bye. I can’t compete with the enticing material flashing before him on the screen. I’m not that interesting. But, all joking aside (although I’m only 1/2 joking), JP fights for his right to his imaginary gaming world.
And once upon a time, I allowed it.
JP is very, very smart. I know all parents say that about their children, but he truly falls somewhere on the exceptional side of the scale. I feel okay about saying that, because he doesn’t have my genes! And I’ve always used that as an excuse to let him have freedom with TV and electronics. In fact, I’ll even go as far as to say that he has acquired a lot of his knowledge from the internet. Sad, but true.
Over the past couple of years I’ve really felt guilty about the amount of screen time he gets. I’ve slowly taken more and more away. We are down to 30 minutes after dinner during the week (school nights).
In return, I’ve become his least favorite person on the planet.
But that’s okay. I tell him all the time that he’ll thank me one day. Maybe.
So what’s the appropriate amount of screen time for your kid with ADHD? Good question. I certainly am not brave enough to say what you should do. Every child is different. And as the person who loves them most, only YOU can make that call. What I will tell you is, less is definitely best. I am 100% confident in that.
A few things I’ve observed over the past few months:
- JP is much nicer when he doesn’t have screen time. I don’t know how to explain this one, but it’s so true. He is kind, compassionate and MUCH LESS obnoxious and irritating when he joins us in the real world. When he stays on the iPad, he isn’t nearly as nice to Preston. I mean, I don’t expect them to frolic in a bed of roses while holding hands, but it would be AMAZING if they didn’t call each other hateful names and throw things.
- JP sleeps better w/ less screen time. I suppose this one’s a no-brainer. You would think so, anyway. It wasn’t for me. I allowed JP access to his electronics up until bedtime and would then wonder why he didn’t sleep well. We usually put the boys in bed around 7:30, so all electronics are off by 7, at the latest. 90% of the time he pitches a fit, but I’m always so thankful when morning rolls around.
- Addiction is a powerful thing. When I first implemented the “30 Minutes Only” rule (I’m always making rules – maybe in my next life, I’ll adhere to more of them) JP was FURIOUS. Actually, what’s a stronger word than furious? If you can think of one, that’s what he was! It was so scary for me to see. He was almost physically ill b/c he was going to miss out on gaming with his friends. I do not have an addictive personality and when I DO think of addictions, I think of alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. But kids are JUST AS addicted to their devices and it’s NOT okay.
So at this point, most of you are thinking to yourself, “Congratulations Andrea! Thanks for sharing a blog post on a topic that drips of common sense.” And if you are thinking that, I don’t blame you. You’re right. It SHOULD be common sense. I’ve read the studies and know the statistics. I just didn’t apply them.
*I’m speaking from the ADHD standpoint, but this is true for ALL children*
Bottom line, don’t wait until your child is 10 years old before you do what’s best for them. Because one day you’ll wake up and wish you had done things differently and unfortunately, for moms like me, you can’t turn back the hands of time.
The damage is done.