Shall we switch off the screen time guilt this week?
Last night I hatched a plan. Before I went to bed I hid all the tablets and laptops. I even hid the TV remote.
It was a brilliant plan, I thought to myself. A foolproof plan. No longer could my children flout the rules about screen time. They wouldn’t be able to, simply because they’d been denied all access.
What I hadn’t anticipated was the grim weather that we woke up to the following day. We’d be stuck indoors all morning with nowhere to escape to - not that there is anywhere to escape to at the moment anyway.
Fine, I thought. I won’t let this defeat me. I’ve got loads of screen-free activities we can enjoy as a family. We made fruit smoothies together, we put on some music and had a kitchen disco. The kids even constructed their own gym out of the living room furniture.
But then the first fight broke out. Then one refused to share. And then one collapsed in a heap and threw a tantrum so immense that they ended up wetting themselves.
I should add that all of this occurred before the clock had even reached 11am.
So I caved. After lunch I handed each of them an electronic device and put the kettle on. Our house is now quiet. The kids can now coexist in the same living space without killing each other. And, crucially, I know I’m probably going to be able to finish my cup of tea before I need to mop up another puddle of piss from the floor.
Nothing makes this mum feel guiltier than knowing that the kids have been spending far too much time in front of screens. How I wish we could manage one screen free day without everything descending into chaos.
But we need to start being realistic, because right now the benefits of screens vastly outweigh the potential risks.
Yes screens might be affecting our children’s ability to concentrate, but then again so is the mental strain of living in the midst of a global pandemic.
Right now, our phone and tablet screens are providing us with a portal to a world outside our four walls. We all crave that escapism right now. It seems unfair to deny our children of it just because we’re feeling guilty.
So I propose that, for this week at least, we impose a ‘screen time rules’ amnesty. Let’s all say that there are no limits to how much screen time is too much. Because if letting them have an extra half an hour playing Roblox means you get to avoid a major meltdown, then it might just save everyone’s sanity.