My Kids Do Not Play With Tablets And It’s Not For The Reason You Might Think
My children are close in age- only 20 months apart. They do most everything together and are jolly, little BFF’s the vast majority of the time, much to my delight. They are five and six years old now and usually, they are happy playing with the same toys and doing the same activities. It is basically the dream I had in mind when we decided to space our children so close together.
That said, this closeness in age also means the occasional bickering. I have to say- they really are better about it than most sibling sets their age. We are not constantly refereeing between them and for the most part, they play extremely well together. We largely credit our daughter with this harmony as she is probably the most patient and easy-going big sister of all time but our son is a different story. He likes things his way and he doesn’t like to share. We are working on it but he is, after all, a five year old child and reason only goes so far.
With most things, we are able to get our son to see the error of his ways but one thing we can never get him to be reasonable about is video games and tablets. He is wholly obsessed and once he starts playing, it is near impossible to get him to stop peacefully. We have tried everything- setting a timer, discussing ground rules in advance, punishing him for having a bad reaction to game time ending- you name it, we’ve tried it. Nothing works. The end of video game time always means a temper tantrum. When the kids are “taking turns”, it inevitably turns into multiple fights because he cannot handle sharing and always wants whatever his sister has. It is one of the few things guaranteed to cause fights between them. Video games and tablet time really do bring out the worst in him- besides the fight when its time to be done, I also notice a major uptick in hyper-active and rude behavior after he has been playing the games for a little bit. Because of this, my kids do not play with tablets or video games anymore.
We have an iPad, computer and Kindle Fire and we have loaded kiddie games on all of them at various points with good intentions of letting our kids use them as a reward for good behavior. Now, it has been a few months since either child has touched any of it. Since our son cannot handle separating from it nicely, that means we do not let our daughter play with any of it either. He gets upset seeing her play the games and I know this sounds lazy, but it’s conflict we simply do not want to deal with.
Besides avoiding conflict, there are other bonus benefits to banning video games for our kids. We have noticed that, for our kids at least, a lack of video games means they play together more imaginatively. As much as I have enjoyed the video game zone-out time where no one bugs me for anything, I do so love having them run up to me begging me to tie a blanket around their neck to act as a super hero cape or to help them iron the Perler bead creation they just made. I think video and computer games are awesome and they are a hallmark of my 1990’s childhood- I played video games for hours with my brothers and I really don’t think it hurt us any but I know we also would have been just fine without it. My kids will be too.
Sometimes, I really wish I could just hand my kids the iPad and tell them to go to town so I could have a few moments peace but the fighting and bad behavior it results in just isn’t worth the temporary quiet. Maybe someday they will be able to co-exist peacefully with electronics but for now, they will have to be content without it.