I thought all the kids were doing too much screentime this year. What else are we doing with them? We used to go to science museums, playdates, festivals, parties, events... all shut down. So the parents everywhere joked about screentime limits going out the window.
Josie games a lot, but then would wander off, still liked walking with me or playing cards.
Not Olive. She's either playing roblox, minecraft, animal crossing, zelda, among us... or complaining about not playing them. There is no in between. She cried when we took a family camping trip. She said her friend's birthday party wasn't fun. (at the same party, another little girl ran up to us parents to ask her mom to go get her nintento switch... so we didn't feel so bad.)
We figured school would detox her. Take her out of the environment, force her to learn in an engaging environment. But she kept saying how much she hated it.
This week we had parent teacher conferences, and her teacher asked if she was gaming too much at home. She talks about it all the time, the teacher told us. And on the playground, she doesn't play with the other kids. Just walks off by herself, and says she'd rather be playing minecraft.
I posted about it in a reddit parenting group, and was downvoted, probably for being a bad parent, and then told it was time to take away all games. No screens. Cold turkey. Or set some serious limits. One hour a day, only after everything else was done... chores and reading and outside time. Requirements.
Then somebody wanted to start up a chat with me, and had another idea.
This person said they used to be a videogame addicted kid, and now programmed computers, and said that computers and screens and gaming aren't evil. People keep trying to prove that they ruin kids' attention span but they don't. Too much gaming can be bad, and the addiction can be real, but gaming can be there for you too. When there's nothing else to do, when there's no friends around, when you need an escape. And they can teach a kid good things.
The game can be the safety net, always there if you need it, and then she might feel like she can go off and do something else. Go outside or read a book or talk to me.
Olive talks to me now, I say, but only about GAMING, and it's SO BORING I have to tune it out. I tell Olive that gaming is bad for her brain and she does it too much. When she writes in her notebook is like weird fanfiction about zelda characters, and that's a red flag to me that it's in her head too much. and it's all bad!
Is it bad though, the chatter asked? She's writing, she's talking, she loves it... but her mom says it's bad. How must that feel? You haven't seen what she does in there. She has good things stemming from the games. Why not encourage that? The threats to take games away are stressing her out, the time limits make it a scarcity. Why not get in there with her, then write stories together, play together, love her for what she's creating, the minecraft house or the zelda boss she's beaten? then she'll be with you?
I want her to go to a park with me again.
she still loves you.
I thought of my dad, taking away my nirvana albums. how I wore black. hated the kids at school. I felt softer. At home, with my kids, I escape... upstairs to my books, downstairs to my art, I do my own thing, they do theirs, but we are still trying to reach out aren't we? through this whole hard year, what can we do FOR each other?
the games will always be there, I decided. I am going to try being there too. I don't know what it looks like yet and I may be making a mistake, but Olive isn't lost.