I was taken completely off guard. As our pediatrician performed a physical, he said casually, “They aren’t getting more than an hour of screen time per day, are they?”
I turned to stone. My mind searched for believable lies. I kept it basic and landed on “Of course not!” while laughing nervously, pulling the iPad away from my child’s steely hands.
I left soon after, with a child throwing a tantrum so wildly, she made Lindsay Lohan look like Mother Theresa.
“She just found out she has the flu and isn’t taking the news very well,” I said to a concerned looking woman in the waiting room. Then I picked up speed and got the hell out of there.
On the way home I started adding up the amount of time I let my girls watch cartoons or play on our devices. Then I recalled once reading Jo Frost (Supernanny) recommending no more than 30 minutes of educational screen time per day. It sounded reasonable at the time as I was rocking a newborn. Then real life motherhood happened, and I decided Supernanny is a liar.
I’m just a woman; I’m not a preschool! I can’t handle these kinds of insane demands!
But then I realized it wasn’t about me. It was about my girls and protecting them from a future of Netflix-bingeing “Barbie’s Dream House.” I had to be strong — for them.
I sprung into action and ran around the house, burning all the remotes and devices. Structured play time only until it kills us!
And it was so great, you guys!
A long, full day of fighting over crayons, trying to eat crayons and drawing on the walls with said crayons while mommy made lunch or basically did anything at all that didn’t involve watching them like hawks. And this went on and on and on until pretty much forever.
Maybe just one episode of “Barbie’s Dream House” wouldn’t be that bad ...
Then, one day, I don’t know what to tell you. I needed to answer some important emails, make some calls and sip some coffee while it was still hot. I pulled out the iPad and I grew a bit uncomfortable when my child lit up like she was in some Oprah reunion special and her long-lost love just emerged from backstage.
That was a banana peel that had me gliding down the slipperiest slope man has ever known. Before I knew it, she found her way into the YouTube Kids app where she watched endless videos of adults singing “Baby Shark” (why, God?!) and opening toys. Who were these creepy sickos? Since each video had tens of millions of views, I could only assume they were rich creepy sickos! Why am I not video taping myself opening toys like a rich, creepy sicko?!
After an hour, I couldn’t take it anymore and took the iPad away. She wailed, but I didn’t care. Baby Shark, this! I’ve had enough!
Time passed, and then eventually, when I wanted to sip my coffee while it was still hot, I pulled my child’s long-lost lover out of the junk drawer and let her play on it for a while.
The truth is, technology is here to stay. There’s something to be said about our children understanding how it all works, because, let’s face it, mommy’s job is on the Internet now. There’s a real good chance theirs will be, too. Understanding and being acquainted with technology is now a vital skill that could open up opportunities for the future.
Mankind loves to advance, but not really. We were deathly afraid of cars; we were afraid of electricity; we were afraid of phones and how they would devastate our social lives. And now we’re afraid of this.
Technology should enhance our lives, not ruin them. It should help built a bright future for our children, not take it away. So, as much as I want to eliminate it, as much as I fear it, realistically, it should be more a matter of balancing it.
Except for YouTube Kids. I clicked “delete” on that crap a long time ago.
Anna Lind Thomas is a humor writer and mom to daughters Lucy and Poppy and English bulldog Bruno, wife to Rob Thomas and founder of HaHas for HooHas. She writes for momaha.com.