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I'm actually a bit embarrassed to need help with this - screen time woes!

(14 Posts)
NoCapes Mon 20-Mar-17 11:10:48

I thought I was doing ok with our balance of screen time, but had felt it slipping a bit with Ds1 who is 7, but put it down to his age
I'll add here that he was assessed for autism but was declared NT, and is currently being assessed for sensory issues, so I think I've let this excuse his behaviour a little bit

We had a very busy weekend with birthdays, meals out and a family Christening, DS1 gets a little bit overwhelmed and emotional when there is too much going on at once
But this weekend he basically spent the whole weekend begging me for a screen, asking people for their phones and the time we were at home even when there were people here, he was on the PlayStation
When we were out at a family meal and I refused to give him anything and desperately tried to engage him in conversation but he pretty much just flailed around the backrest saying he was bored and eventually melting into a puddle of tears (it was past bedtime though to be fair)

He doesn't really play with toys anymore though, will draw or colour occasionally but under duress and basically when I'm not allowing him screen time he's just wandering around not doing anything

So - what do I do now? Part of me wants to ban it all completely until he learns to function again
But then I think of the meltdowns I'll get and think it's not worth it
What else can I do to engage him in something? I've gone out today and bought him some word search and maze books and a new colouring book - but he can't just do those constantly, will he eventually learn to just play again?

I'm actually really embarrassed to have this problem, and I'd like to add here that I've got 2 other children who aren't like this, so what do your 7 year olds do? And what are your screen time rules?

Believeitornot Mon 20-Mar-17 11:20:08

Ban it completely or set very strict rules which you never waiver from.

My ds is the same age and if I let him he would be exactly the same. He gets incredibly upset about it if he cannot go on the computer etc so I have strict limits. He can watch in the morning before breakfast for a set time. Nothing after dinner. And never when we are out or have visitors over.

He too gets a bit overwhelmed and needs time to switch off. I did worry about autism or ADHD but actually I think he's just a bit of an introvert and needs peace and quiet which the world doesn't always provide! The best thing for him is playing quietly with Lego. He's started drawing more as well. We don't tell him to do it, when he comes home from school, he finds a quiet corner, gets his Lego out and plays. Sometimes he will have an audio book as well in the background.

We always let him take some Lego with us when we eat out or we play games like rock/paper/scissors or guessing games. So doesn't require a conversation as such.

Maybe your ds doesn't play with toys because he's used to screens? I'd try him with some Lego sets and build with him at first. I'd also try some hot wheels tracks. My ds also has a digging area outside and he absolutely loves going out. Can you encourage your ds - maybe set up a vegetable patch with him. Basically to get him to play again you need to play with him. My ds absolutely thrives being outdoors for example.
Does he do anything else like Beavers or after school activities?

Afo Mon 20-Mar-17 11:26:24

Mines is 6 and the rule is 30 mins per day (not counting tv or movies) phone or Tablet time. I brought in the rule when I felt things were slipping and he was losing interest in his toys. Initially he used his 30 mins every day, but as time has gone on there's plenty of days where he doesn't use it at all. For a while I also hid the charger and simply told him it was broken, password protected my phone and told him my phone was private. I think the change you will see will be worth a few days of tears and tantrums. He has his lego out constantly, draws pictures, makes booklets of random things and plays outside on his bike. I'm so glad I don't get him his own tablet at Christmas when I was tempted. He is my eldest though so isn't really aware of games consoles although he has mentioned a new Nintendo switch? Have no idea what it is and don't intend buying one anytime soon, I do know I will give in as he gets older but for now I'm happy and so is he. How about allowing your DS an hour a day to begin with? 30 mins with a break on the undrstamding he goes and plays for an hour before he gets it again? For meals out etc the restaurant normally has colouring pages although again he's growing out of this. Does he like lego? Could you get a few of the tiny packs at the till at argos for when out and about? You have my sympathies I know how easy it is to let things slip in a busy house. Here it was with the arrival of DC3, I took my eye off the ball.

Afo Mon 20-Mar-17 11:27:23

A lot of cross posting!

NoCapes Mon 20-Mar-17 18:21:54

Sorry the baby woke up just as I posted - typical!
Thanks so much for the replies, some brill advice
He has absolutely tons of Lego but once he's built it he doesn't tend to play with it much
He does know how to play, he used to be brilliant and play all the time, it's just the last 6 months or so that he's been playing less and less, but then is that just his age?
He does like being outside but he really feels the cold so just does short bursts unless it's warm, we do go to the park with a big gang of kids from school one night each week most weeks and we do get out and about at weekends but again just recently he begs to stay in and have pj days <eye roll>
I'm going to just have to bite the bullet and be strict aren't I, I did say tonight from now on no screens until after dinner which he had a bit of a wobble about but eventually did play a bit which was nice to see...but then his friend called for him and they went to his friends house and played on the PlayStation there 😳

Believeitornot Mon 20-Mar-17 20:50:53

No I don't think it's an age thing. He's 7 and most 7 year olds I know like to play. The problem is that screens are so addictive!
If he feels the cold outside you need to invest in decent coats. I stopped getting cheap stuff a long time ago - coats come from muddy puddles or spotty otter as they're warm and waterproof.
Is he watching screens because he's getting less attention due to baby? Do you have a DH? Can he take him about for a couple of hours at the weekend every now and then for special time?

NoCapes Mon 20-Mar-17 21:43:32

Oh really, most of his friends do seem the same with iPads/play stations etc, although maybe not to the extent of DS but then I'm not there so don't know obviously

He feels the cold more because of health things, not coat problems, sorry didn't make that very clear

No DH just me, and tbh it seems to have got worse since the baby started taking up less of my time weirdly, maybe I just got too relaxed once they could all entertain themselves for a while, but now he's pretty addicted and my complacency has bitten me on the bum a bit
I feel so awful that it's become such a problem

Wishiwasmoiradingle2017 Thu 23-Mar-17 13:37:16

We had a power cut once and played a board game by candle light! When it came back on we didn't tell the dc - only when they went to bed older dc noticed the standby light on the TV!!
Maybe flick that switch one night and make it exciting!!
'midnight feast 'even at 6pm would be fun!
' sleepover 'with all on a onesie - even dm +df in pj's!
Make up a ghost story night?
Get the imagination flowing again!!

iamEarthymama Thu 23-Mar-17 13:46:57

I share your worries.
When my 6 year old grandson and his big brother and sister stay over they have started disappearing into screens. I do put my foot down but it's easier to say ok, so I can read or go on my iPad! 😳
It's Earth Hour on Saturday, they are staying over so we are going to make a big thing of it.
Candlelight, no screens, we usually have a fairly romantic dinner for two but I am looking forward to have the chance to really talk and play some games.
Earth Hour

Don't beat yourself up, by the way 😊

LiveLifeWithPassion Thu 23-Mar-17 13:49:29

If you can, go cold turkey with the gadgets and games for a couple of weeks.
Have plenty of activities to do and do them with him or start him off. Take him to places or just the garden. Do it as part of an activity. Digging, bug hunting with magnifying glass etc.
At home, do some creative stuff with him, play, tv, books.

I had to do that with my dcs and we still have a no gaming rule during the week. It's made such a difference.

DragonFire99 Thu 23-Mar-17 13:54:11

What do I do now? Part of me wants to ban it all completely until he learns to function again

Yes, that's what you need to do! You'll be doing him a HUGE favour. Whenever we ban or reduce screen time for ds (9) his behaviour improves and he rediscovers his imagination. It's just easier playing on screens - it requires no input or effort.

I bet his teachers will thank you soo much too.

But then I think of the meltdowns I'll get and think it's not worth it

It will be worth it. Play with him at first to remind him how to play. Take him out - make sure he has plenty of exercise. He's 7 - of course he should be playing!!

LadyPeterWimsey Thu 23-Mar-17 14:10:30

Definitely go cold turkey, and then reintroduce gradually. Just make sure you stock up on lots of resolve and gin because if your DS is anything like my DC, there will be tantrums.

One thing I found was that screen time made everything else look boring, so they played less with their toys, went outside less - but moaned a lot more.

Our solution was to have screen time at weekends only, and only when their rooms were tidy, they had done homework and music practice and any other jobs. And even then, only after 5pm, because if they had screen time earlier they were grumpy for the rest of the day and everything else was boring.

There are still some issues, but generally it works for us.

BertieBotts Thu 23-Mar-17 14:18:10

We allocate screen time with tickets. He has to hand over a physical object if he wants to use them and so he can see when the time is running out and knows not to ask for extra because he won't get more until the next day. That works well to limit the time but not cut it out completely.

BertieBotts Thu 23-Mar-17 14:20:12

We don't mind what he does at friends houses and it's not counted.

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