Thinking back, my childhood was the happiest time of my life.
And that is because I actually lived.
I sat on the porch swing snapping green beans with my mom and my grandma.
I sang songs around campfires with my dad’s church youth group.
I rode my bicycle down my grandpa’s half-mile gravel driveway.
I threw stink bugs at my cousins.
I saw my first doggy give birth to seven puppies.
I ran through sprinklers and played wiffle ball and ate sun-kissed strawberries as I sprawled out in the grass on my grandparent’s farm.
I ended every day filthy and exhausted.
And the memories I have are beautiful ones.
This is the childhood I want for my son and daughter…and for yours, too. Not the brainless, mind-numbing blue glow of an iScreen.
My name is Angie. I have a 12 year old son who has autism.
Over two months ago in a moment of mama-tantrum, I threw my son’s iPad in the trash…right in front of him.
And because he doesn’t comprehend trickery, he actually believed that I left it there. (I didn’t.)
What I realized after a very short time, is that my son was very unhealthily attached and addicted to that device.
Zion was spending 2-3 hours on weekdays, and 8-10 hours on weekends with that iPad in his face.
8-10 hours on weekends. Painful to admit. But this is how I got things done.
Then once the iPad was gone and he began to re-engage with real life, I realized that he had abandoned things like reading.
Playing in the dirt.
Building block towers.
Playing with Legos and plastic animals.
And since the iPad was no longer available, he began to do those things again…on his own.
I would find him in his room reading.
And sitting outside in the grass dissecting ants.
His mind was able to calm down long enough to sit with me a while and hold my hand.
And listen to stories.
And sing songs.
So here is my challenge, my call to 1980’s parenting.
Take those devices, and just put them away. Save them for road trips. And education.
Otherwise those glowing screens are just sucking your child’s will to learn, to engage, to create.
Believe me, I know first hand.
I did it too. I was letting the iPad babysit my child because it was easy.
That is not okay.
And I didn’t even realize what I was doing until the day he ticked me off, I grabbed it from him, and “threw it away.”
Then the first time I saw Zion pick up a book after the iPad disappeared, I thought to myself, “Hmmm…when is the last time I saw him read an actual book?”
I couldn’t remember.
Then the next day I saw him coloring.
And I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen him do that, either.
Then the next day he came into the kitchen and wanted to help me make eggs for breakfast…and I promise you, that had NEVER happened before.
And I had to face the hard truth that it was time to kill the babysitter.
So I am telling you the complete honest truth when I say that Zion has not touched an iPad in over 2 months.
And what’s funny is that he hasn’t even asked for it, because he saw me throw it away.
Sure, we have watched movies. He has listened to Disney Pandora on my iPhone.
But the bulk of his day is electronic-free.
And now I have a little boy again instead of a zombie with iPad induced anxiety.
A few months ago, every moment was anxiety laden with constant questioning about when he could get to an iPad or a computer.
“Watch iPad mama’s house?” “Go see computer grandma’s house?” “All done eating, watch a movie Auntie Boo’s house?”
I don’t hear any of this anymore because he knows it is off the table.
A few months ago, Zion didn’t say two words to me most of the time, unless it had to do with when he was getting to an electronic device. He would ask me for food and water, and that was about the extent of it.
But now he won’t shut up!
Yesterday, when I got to my parent’s house to pick him up, he said “Hi mama! Come on in!”
I said, “Thank you, buddy. How are you doing?”
He said, “I am good! Did you miss me?”
I had never heard him say that before. I thought my parents and I were going to giggle until we peed.
Zion said, “Where are we going?”
I replied, “We are going to pick Kristin up and take her to the airport.”
He turned to his grandparents and said, “Bye guys! We’ll see y’all later!”
I can’t stand it.
I mean, I really can’t.
He is conversational. Engaged. Enthusiastic.
There is room in his brain now for these things because it isn’t being zapped by a constant and glowing blue light.
Even if your child is a typically developing one, you have to know that they will benefit from the reduction of electronics.
Just try it.
If you can’t do it cold turkey, just try one day a week at first. Yes, your kids will be mad at you for a minute.
But so what?
It may sound scary. Yikes…parenting without devices?
Our parents did it. And so can we.
So here are my directions on reclaiming your kid’s childhood:
- Confiscate devices.
- Send kids outside.
- Add toys, water, and/dirt.