Child has major temper tantrum over being told screen time is up. Parent…
a. …believes, “He’s going through the ‘Terrible Twos’ (even if older than 2 yo). Everything is a battle.”
b. …says, “Kids these days!”
c. …thinks, “my child has a really hard time transitioning from one activity to another.”
d. …has a light bulb moment, “I’ve made a mistake in how I’ve handled electronics with my child.”
By Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
Lamperti Counseling & Consultation
Dr. John Rosemond said, “Child misbehavior is often preceded by parental mismanagement.” Such is the case in the above scenario and I hope that many of you chose “d” as the correct answer.
Read this and then close your eyes and visualize it.
You have asked your child to “finish up on the computer.”
You then say, “Five more minutes, finish up.”
Next, you say, “Time to turn it off.”
And then, “I said, time to turn it off!”
You then have to move closer and say even more firmly, “I said it’s time to turn it off!!”
Finally, you physically take the controller, device, etc. A power struggle ensues and a tug-of-war over the device. Maybe there is crying, screaming, yelling, shouting angry words, storming off, slamming doors and any number of other responses.
And this scenario; you absolutely must get a shower and one important phone call done. You set your child up with your tablet (or her own). Inevitably, between heading to the shower, you come across 2 or three more “essential” things that need to be done, “real quick!” You glance over and the young one is perfectly content. You get the shower done, all dressed and hair dried, then the phone call, which goes at least twice as long as expected. Maybe an hour and a half later you are ready to end the electronic session. Your child is fine with it because actually they are kind of “done” anyway. All is well. Your thought bubble reads, “I love this kid! He is so awesome. Kept nice and quiet while I took much longer than planned and then gave it up nicely when I asked.”
If you are reading this (Monday 5/4/15) you either didn’t know it was Screen Free Week 2015, didn’t prioritize it, didn’t think it was important, or maybe told yourself it wasn’t possible or was too difficult to participate. That’s OK. No judgment here. I tried it with my family 2 years ago for a total FAIL and last year we didn’t have a huge amount of success either. This year is our year. I hope you’ll get something out of this post and add your comments. I’ll look at everything on May 11th unless I get a quick peek this week during my 1 hour time allotted to conduct my necessary computer work for my business.
I want to highlight a few issues here, briefly:
· Emotional intelligence and electronic time.
· Electronic time and family dynamics.
· Safety from dangerous social media and destructive behavior on social media.
Emotional Intelligence and Electronic Time
This article is well worth the read! In short, researchers took two groups of 6th graders. One had no access to electronic devices for 5 days and the other had usual access. Students who had no access could read facial emotions or other nonverbal cues better than the other group. This was after just FIVE days!
And this article has lots of facts about screen time rates and socioeconomic status, screen time and obesity, screen time and sleep, screen time undermining learning, and others.
Let’s not try to fool ourselves. While screen time has some benefits, even the “best and most educational” electronic activities have negative impacts that far outweigh the positive.
Electronic Time and Family Dynamics
A study from Boston Medical Center outlined the findings and impacts of 55 parent/child groupings and saw that too many parents are absorbed in their gadgets and these parents have more negative interactions with their children, including kicking their child under the table when the child is trying to get their attention.
As never seen until this year, I have young clients, on occasion come into my office for a session and barely lift their eyes from their device when I begin talking to them and the parent says nothing, at least not until I say something.
As I mentioned in my Family Movie Night post, if the parents sit down with their device, whether the children consciously know it or not, they are aware that their parent has things they think are more important then watching the movie with them.
Safety From Dangerous Social Media and Destructive Behavior on Social Media
This link will take you to a review of Parental Monitoring software.
Parents are usually thoroughly overwhelmed with their own devices and figuring them out and keeping them all organized, never mind their child’s. A lot of people are challenged even to try to figure out where all of their photos are being stored and how not to lose them.
Parents typically answer yes to the question of whether their child’s device/devices have parental controls, they say they check the history, or they honestly say they don’t know anything about these things.
Things like bullying, seeing images that may questionable never leave their mind, sharing too much information, to wasting too much time, getting too little sleep, living socially in a digital way rather than in person…These are all concerns that many parents seem to skim over.
I challenge you to do the following:
· When your child goes to bed, get their device/devices and type in something basic, like “Florida” or “swingset.”
· Find the “history” and see if you can see it and delete it. (PRIOR TO DOING THIS, CHECK THE HISTORY ON THE DEVICE SO THAT WHEN YOU DELETE IT ALL, TO MAKE SURE YOU AREN’T DELETING THINGS YOU NEED TO SEE.
· Once you know you can delete the history, type in some relatively benign words, like “naked” or “having a baby.” See what comes up. Click the button “images.” See what comes up. You will know right then and there what the enemy is and what you need to protect your child from.
· Now, delete the history.
Do not assume that your child can’t do what you just did. Do not assume that your child (or a friend or sibling) will not knowingly search for something forbidden or be encouraged by someone else to search something inappropriate or accidentally come across something inappropriate.
1. I searched for our local bike shop online, owned by former chief of police. Much to my shock what I saw! I called the owner and he apologised, and explained that his site had been hijacked by a XXX porn site. Thankfully, my son was not looking over my shoulder.
2. A very long time ago, can’t remember why, I searched “foot fungus.” Why did a XXX site come up?
3. I clicked on a “bad” link and pressed the button, “fix now” and was immediately flashed with an FBI message that my computer was now under servailance by the FBI, along with an image of two YOUNG children having sex. It said I had been involved in illegal activity. The image was very clear. Luckily, no children looking over my shoulder.
I talk to many parents about checking their child’s device when they have already told me they are protected. Those who trust me have come back and said, “I figured out how to check history and it was loaded with porn!” I’m talking about children 7, 8, 9 years old. Children who had just made out their Christmas list filled with wishes for dolls and other toys.
Keep in mind, a child who comes across these things, either looking for them or by accident, is usually going to be scared they did something wrong and not want to tell anyone. They will then walk around with that guilt and those images for a long time until they are able to (1) stuff it, or (2) tell someone.
I am 46 years old. Anything I saw at that young age was in a magazine and may have even frontal nudity, but NOT anything like what is displayed online in still and video images. Torture, Anal, Lesbian, Teenage, Group…..the list goes on.
IT IS THE ADULT’S JOB TO PROTECT THEIR CHILD, TO THE BEST OF THEIR ABILITY, FROM SEEING THESE IMAGES.
On that note, please, perk up about what your child is doing and seeing on social media! They are way too important to not pay attention. Parents are far too busy trying to make ends meet these days. But I feel sure that most of you can do better when it comes to modeling good ownership of your devices and monitoring your child’s time on social media.