Screen Time in COVID Days

In 2020, my boys have probably clocked more time in front of the screen than they have accumulated in the previous decade.

Part of me wants to berate myself for letting it get out of hand. You know, for being a bad mom, because I’ve used the time to do other things that were much more easily accomplished without “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, where’s the…?” or “It’s not fair! Why can he… and I have to…?” or the “I’m hungry, what is there is to eat? Ew, don’t have anything other than fruit?” And yet, as the year of COVID continues to be, I find myself more and more fascinated by what they choose to do.

Initially, they binge watched YouTube and TikTok. Then they started making videos and memes. Of course they were playing online games with friends and randos, which made me feel very uncomfortable. We often had the talk about strangers and not giving out their personal information.

Due to his high pitched laugh and gentle style, A1 often got asked if he was a girl. But during COVID, he’s turned into a nearly 6-foot tall deeper voiced GUY. He still laughs with abandon in his hilarious high pitched giggles, but no one mistakes him for a girl. I love listening to him interact with his friends as they play a wide range of games. There are certainly toxic situations, which I am incredibly proud to see him maneuver of or just leave from. But I can see collaborative and leadership skills develop as he helps newbies or yells commands as they fight the other team. He’s learned to be a good winner, but more importantly, he’s learned to shrug off loss. He does not tie his happiness to winning or losing, he learns from each experience, and he has a lot of fun. He’s also appreciated the importance of typing, which I tried to cultivate when they didn’t see the value of it yet. He is able to get off when it’s time to get off, he has made new friends both on and offline due to these games, and he’s shown more and more interest in the business-end of the video game industry, telling us about how stocks are doing and strategies implemented by the big players.

A2 loves watching YouTube, and, similar to his brother, he every so often shares something to impress me (well, to show me that not everything on YouTube or the Internet is junk). He has been learning how to edit graphics and is very interested in programing to make games. A2 makes memes and streams on TikTok of course. He plays more with his own friends, but finds the interpersonal side of things stressful. This morning, he shared with me about a game he and his friends were making. He created the world, so he has control. But what impressed me most was his understanding of the strengths of each friend, how he manages the relationships, how he makes decisions (he gets final say as he owns the world). He made me feel like he would be a better manager than I have been in my 20 years of managing people!

They both spend WAY more time on their screens than I would think is ideal from the perspective of impact to their eyes or brain, but I observe them developing amazing skills in communications, resilience, computer applications, and more!

So as a scheming mom, I’ve come up with a monthly Detox Day.

At our family meeting today, I introduced the idea and we will try it out. It definitely balances out our monthly Frivolous Day, which is a sort of free for all day where we do what we want. Finger crossed, we can get through Detox Day.

To be honest, I think I’m more worried about me and my iPhone addiction than I am about them!

Published by Sherry Yuan Hunter

Sherry Yuan Hunter is a certified trauma recovery coach and certified parenting coach. Taiwan-born American-Canadian Chinese, married, working mother of two, Sherry identifies as a Sandwich Parent, Third Culture Kid, an untigering Mom, and Recovering Shouldaholic. Based in Toronto, Canada, Sherry has been working in student success programs at University of Toronto for 20 years, supporting students, young professionals, new managers, working moms, and new immigrants to success.

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