I’m feeling the need to set stricter electronic device usage time limits for my thirteen-year-old. It’s hard to enforce, because pretty much ALL he wants to do is play with his iPod Touch, or a game console, or watch his favorite shows recorded on the DVR. He likes to read, but not the way I did as a kid, when I was either reading sf/fantasy or running around outside making up my own stories. We don’t have friends or neighborhood kids nearby that he can hang out with on a casual basis, and he’s not interested in setting up “play dates” with kids from school—we’ve asked. He’s happy to hang out with other kids at school, but not so much when he gets home. We tried the Boy Scouts, but he was uninterested in continuing. He used to play sports like soccer, but now that he’s reached an age where people start getting ultra-serious about it, he’s done with that. “Can’t we just play for FUN?” he asked.
Plus, his dad LOVES his iPad and communes with it for hours when he gets home from work. Which is fine, because his dad is an adult and can regulate himself, but it sets a particular example of what one does when one gets home at the end of the day. And “do as I say, not as I do” does NOT work with our kid. But telling him “scientific studies have shown it’s not healthy for children and teens to spend that much time on electronic devices” isn’t a good enough reason for him to regulate himself when he REALLY wants to do something. I think he’d NEVER unplug except to eat and sleep if he didn’t have to go to school.
I mean, we ALL love our electronic devices, me included. I spend far less time on them at home than my husband, but we’re all plugged in to some extent. And I’m not expecting him to have the sort of wild, unplugged childhood I did, because that’s not the reality today. But the last couple months especially I’ve been getting the feeling that everything else in his life is an unwelcome interruption. And I don’t think that’s a healthy trend.
I get a bit tangled up in my own issues trying to help him, too, because I don’t want to push him the way I was pushed as a kid, to be social when I wasn’t comfortable and/or didn’t feel the need. But I also don’t want him to retreat into his devices entirely.
My own issues again: I was alone a lot as a kid, but often not by choice, and I was lonely much of the time. My son doesn’t appear to be. He has far less need for other people than I do, and I’m a pretty hardcore introvert. Part of this may be because he’s on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, but it may be just his personality. He likes people and enjoys spending time with them, but he doesn’t seem to need their approval or presence very much.
I’m mostly thinking out loud here, but if anyone has any insight, I’d love to hear it.Also posted at http://applewoman.dreamwidth.org/9645.html.