messy. crazy. amazing. joyful.

We're not all officially ADHD. Dad's unofficial. Our ten-year-old twins have ADHD. Our seven-year old wants to have it because everyone is always talking about it. Our three year old has ADHD--just because she's three. And me, Mom, I think it's contagious. Who can remain untouched in a house where shoes seem to be lost every morning, instructions are routinely thrown aside, and fights erupt over which continent capybaras come from?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Unlimited Screen Time

Christmas went amazingly well. Maybe because the kids had total screen amnesty. They were allowed to play with the Wii, their new Nintendo DS games, and on the computer for as long as they wanted each day. It was like dying and going to heaven for them, and it was pretty good for me too. Less complaining, fewer tantrums, fewer sibling brawls. And the question of all questions was finally answered. If a tree falls in the forest…no wait, if my children are allowed unlimited screen time, will they ever get bored and quit? And the answer is: absolutely not.

I’ve been curious about this question for quite some time. For one thing, Luke is always whining that he is the only child in the world who has limits on his screen time. “All my other friends can play for as long as they want, blah, blah, blah.” And for another, I’ve had many a mother tell me that if I just let them play as much as they want, they will eventually get bored and do something else. Well, not so for my kiddies. They went from DS to Wii to computer for days on end. The only times they stopped were when we insisted that they go sledding or to a children’s museum or to play a new Christmas game. And in some cases, even that met with resistance! It was a little surreal.

My theory is that kids with ADHD have a greater obsession, even addiction, to video games and related stuff. It is like a stimulant for the frontal cortex, like Diet Coke, yelling, or Vyvanse. Pick your poison. I don’t have any great studies to site for you. This is mainly a family observation.

So we are back to the daily 30-minute quota, despite the ease our amnesty afforded me. It’s really not that difficult to police their time once school and other activities start. And I think they are used to the idea now—after several years of pleading. I’ve promised them they can have amnesty during other holidays, and that has helped to pacify the wild things. And I’ve learned for myself, that there is no amount of video time that will satiate my kids. I will stick with my half-hour rule and hope that they don’t go nutty and play 22 hours a day when they leave home for college. And I also hope that one day soon, I will make it through the day without the Mario Brothers boop boop boop ba boop ba boop song popping into my head.


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  2. Very interesting. We limit tv to a couple of hours on the weekend and none during the week. We don't have video games and they broke the computer.

    I think you're right about it being addictive to some kids with ADHD. When I adopted my 3 younger kids who have the worst ADHD I have ever seen (and I'm a special educator!) , I let them watch tv and play video games. They would NEVER stop. The youngest would have major tantrums and destroy the house when he had to stop watching tv. So, we gave it up COMPLETELY and we had a much more peaceful household.

    Thankfully, they love to read and went through the Harry Potter" series and other books. My youngest loves to read, but would never choose it if he could choose electronics instead.

    The weekends only and then limited time works out for us. We are too busy during the week anyway. And they really enjoy the movie/tv time they get. My two middle kids will STOP watching eventually, but the youngest won't. And I don;t think any of them would ever get off a computer voluntarily.

  3. Mine have gotten better about TV since they've decided most of the PBS shows are too babyish. We have limited channels, and I won't let them watch a lot of the creepy, weird, or bratty kids shows that are on, so we usually just watch a movie on the weekend. They also love to read, but would probably not choose it over electronics--maybe someday.