scream time

Scream Time

I have three sons, aged ten, twelve and fourteen. They are glorious and terrifying. I like hanging out with them; in the pool and at the movies, we go to cafes and can last forty minutes before the first knuckle sandwich. I worry about my boys; their resilience, their body weight, about how long they spend in front of screens.

My eldest son is plugged-in. He lies around glued to his iPad and gets told by his father to sit up straight and put it away. Slouching is a rite of teenage passage, like petulance and thinking you know everything, so I’m not as bothered as my husband

But I am confused. We’re supplying our sons with user IDs, xbox, PS3 and our next sentence is, ‘Can you get off that thing?’ If I’m puzzled with all the give-and-take-and-take-and-give what do my kids think?

The Internet is not the death of civilization. iPad is my dad’s generation’s television and my generation’s Walkman.

Still, I get it. We’ve got to have something to separate the kids from the adults. But now we’re into without stopping. I can’t read the newspaper (online) without finding out what the digital age is doing to our children – obesity, attention problems, boredom, kids becoming used to guns, bombs, blood-spatter.

Folks, the ship has sailed. And it’s full of us grown-ups sucking hard on the very thing we’re trying to keep our children off.

At school pick-up we wait in our cars on our phones.

Outside office buildings we smoke and get on our phones.

On railway platforms, at bus stops, we’re on our phones.

iPads are as ubiquitous as hair. For work, for play, for catching up and for doing nothing much.

So that ship is gone. We who sail in her are as attached to our screens as our children, maybe more so because we can remember a time without them. We’re freaked out about what it all means, the obesity, the distraction, the disconnectedness, and we’re loving it in spite of ourselves.

Our kids have grown up with all kinds of magic electronica. They are smarter and more tech-savvy than us, they have had this stuff forever and they can become complacent about their devices if we let them.

Am I being simplistic?

I could be. I like naivety it’s better than the real thing.

This doesn’t mean I get to stop caring about screen time. I don’t get to say, do what ya like boys. But it does mean I can trust them – their generation – to get the job done. And it means I can move onto my next worry. Homework.

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