Screen time, all the time

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A few days ago a man asked what my son would like for his birthday.

“Is he really into Minecraft?” he asked.

Not really.

“Well, what video games does he play?”

Um, not so many. We’ll face off in Madden once a week or so.

Long pause.

“I so envy you,” he said. “I don’t know how you do it. In our house, it’s out of control.”

This isn’t a random or rare conversation; an odd sentiment. I hear this all the time from fellow parents. My kid spends way too much time with the iPad. There’s always a screen. He insists on a screen. Screen, screen, screen, screen. They act as if it’s a disease of some sort, and that they’re powerless to stop the problem. Screens are attacking. Screens are taking over. Help! Help Help!

Um, no.

I’m just a writer, but here’s my wild and wacky solution: Cut the shit.

Seriously. Cut. The. Shit. You don’t want your kid playing with his iPad all the time? Well, don’t let him play with his iPad all the time. You don’t love the TV being on during dinner? Here’s a crazy thought: Turn the thing off. Or, even better, don’t have a television in the kitchen.

This drives me crazy. We freak out about, oh, Ebola. About the “damaging” common core. About Obamacare. About fires and drought and whatever. And yet, we’re raising a bunch of zombies. We are. Truly. This morning, while strolling through Trader Joes, I saw a mom pushing her 5-year-old son (I’m guessing on the age) in a cart. It could have been a great time for chatting, for explaining, for loving. Instead, it was her shopping, him shooting things on her iPhone. And, yeah, maybe she needed a few moments of silence. I get that. But this crap happens alllllll thhhhhhheeee tiiiiiiiiime.

And you know why? You wanna really know why? Because, in our cores, we’re lazy. Handing a kid a screen is easier than coming up with a fun little game. It’s easier than chatting. It’s just … easy. But also crap parenting.

Our kids will grow up just as we did—quickly. You’ll blink, it’ll be over. They’ll be gone, out of the house, away from you. And you’ll wonder, “Where did the time go?”

Then the realization hits: It was spent staring at a screen.

Blankly.

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