Defaults to screen time when not being engaged by others

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    • #132088

      I know this topic has been discussed by others but I still don’t really know what to do. My son is 13, with ADHD. We live in a static caravan with little space. He has friends at school but no local friends or siblings. When he was younger he would play with Lego and if other kids are around he will play with them. He loves being outdoors and active. But if I am not doing something with him or we are eating etc he goes straight to his screen and usually to YouTube.
      I do engage with him, we go on bikes rides, I encourage him to cook with me, we watch lots of films together. But he gets up from bed and straight on the screen. He gets home from school and straight on the screen etc….
      I have tried comics, drawing, mecarno, etc and he says that’s boring. He says he wants to make stuff but we don’t have a workshop and tools and in woodwork at school his teacher says he doesn’t really know what to make and he will disengage very fast.
      I can send him on holiday camps, he does kick boxing twice a week that he loves, I could play with him more but I am a single working mum with a life of my own.
      I still can’t decide if all this screen time is okay. I get that his ADHD brain needs constant stimulation. I can’t decide if I should stop all screen time or not. He would flip out.
      Are there any parents out there who have found home based activities their child has engaged in alone or with minimal adult help?
      He won’t go on bikes rides etc alone.
      I try not to despair or resent him as I realise the more stressed I am the worse our relationship is but I find it quite depressing I must admit.

      • This topic was modified 2 years ago by PFB.
      • This topic was modified 2 years ago by Penny Williams.
    • #132458
      Penny Williams

      Screen time is ok when life is balanced. Meaning, if his school work is done, he’s getting exercise, etc, then screen time is ok. But, if screen time is replacing everything else, then it’s a problem. This is my view of it. I would do when-then rules for him. “When you finish riding bikes, then you can play games on the computer.” or “After you’ve done something physical, like riding your bike for 30 minutes, then you can have screen time.” Keep the language positive.

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      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #134981

      We have exactly the same problem with both kids (both have ADHD and older one is also on the autism spectrum). One of the challenges is that it’s difficult to say you can’t have screens until you do “x” when there are no other kids around to do an activity with. Riding your bike by yourself isn’t that much fun and, because of both kids low tolerance for frustration and other social deficits, playing with each other usually results in fighting.

      They will both drop screens readily for other activities, and love to be active outside, but default to screens. We’ve done lists of alternative activities with their input but, they’ll do the activity once or twice and then proclaim that it’s “boring”. I’ve encouraged them to make plans with friends, have them over, or go to their place (i’m in a position to take them if necessary), but their social and organizational issues make this a hit or miss thing. Plus, A LOT of their friends seem to have a great deal of their time scheduled with formal activities, so they’re just “too busy”.

      I’m hoping that someone has some suggestions that could help because I have nothing against screen time but it’s getting to be a bit much.

    • #135023

      We have that same problem with our 9 yo boy. We have a limit of how much time he gets on his ipad. Tv not as much but we limit that too. If we see him on either one after time is up or when he’s not supposed to it gets turned off. If there is a fight about it, then it goes away for that day or the next (depending on the time it happens). Now, is he really annoying and hyper without it? Yes. But we will offer to play games, he can play w the dog, etc. Sometimes we will have him read, help out, find something to do. Or I will say I always have chores to do!
      It is a struggle.
      You could always make a chart and have them earn time on electronics. Chores, homework done, reading, outside play, etc. whatever you want them to do. Have them complete items to earn time.

    • #135030

      We have a very ADD 10 year old. He will do almost any chores to get to have screen time. I’m not sure how much it will work in the future as he gets older, and my husband works from home and I am home with his siblings, so it may not work for you… But for now this is what’s working:

      First, we never allow screens in the morning before school. I’ve noticed it speeds up all of the kids’ brains and makes them impatient at school and dissatisfied with life in general. Even for myself being ADD I don’t allow myself to turn on cartoons for my preschooler until after lunch or at least mid morning. The television can’t turn on until 1030 am. It’s on a power timer. 😉 This helps everyone on weekdays because it takes away the option to watch it play devices.

      I try not to have any screens after school on school nights, but this gets relaxed and then things get crazy and we get strict again. So, Sunday through Thursday night the rules are no screens without permission but flexible to a point. But for us, they have to play with a friend or play outside or build something, do a chore and wash a half load of dishes, have a straightened room with any clean laundry out away, and homework done. Usually, I require a few minutes if piano practice as well. Then screens can be played some before dinner.

      Our kids have to retrieve their tablet from my husband’s office, so they don’t have regular access. They are mostly loaded with educational games.

      We have Republic Wireless Relays instead of phones. They’re like cellular walkie talkies. They have 3 buttons and no screens. Works great for us. We have no intention of giving our children phones.

      We do have a wii, Wii u, and children’s computer. These all have to be accessed with permission after completing the above. And sometimes the answer is just no when it distracts someone else, or no one is cleaning up after themselves or responding when asked to do something. And they still get distracted or non responsive when they’re sucked into something and won’t stop long enough to talk to me for a minute. And sometimes that means we turn the screens off, or take a break from reading, or whatever is too engrossing to deal with real life.

      Saturday is usually major work day, so screens can be rewarded for the whole afternoon as soon as everything is caught up (mowing lawns, pickup and vacuum every space, dishes, laundry, bathrooms, bedrooms, etc.) I don’t know if it’s just my five ADD kids, but they can destroy a clean house faster than I can clean one room. The screens are Very motivating for our oldest son. So getting his jobs done earlier motivates him very well.

      In the summer time, I have a huge checklist of things before they can screen time from between 1-2 hours. We also share time or everyone fights and gets mean. It’s just not worth it. There’s lists on Pinterest if you need inspiration.

      Someday, we may have to change what we’re doing again. Originally we only allowed screens on Friday and Saturday nights (non school) and that adjusted. For now, teaching them that they are a fun reward when all the other priorities are completed has worked well for my oldest. It’s less motivating for my daughters. So we use other things. And I have educational shows that each preschooler (when they were home) enjoys after lunch for an hour or two some days. Hopefully this is helpful. And good luck. Screen withdrawals have been ugly at our house!

      I will add, there are many things technology can do. My son has asked me for extra things to create stop motion animation, to learn how to code on, or do some other learning things, or watch how to make something on YouTube. I try to allow this use of technology as a tool as much as possible (after homework and chores of course).

      Technology can also be locked down in more ways than you can imagine. If you can dream it up, it’s probably been done.

    • #135031

      One of the problems we have (and I think that this is the same with the original post) isn’t a lack of a system for limiting screen time or knowing alternative activities, it’s that when the kids don’t have screen time, they don’t have alternatives they can do WITHOUT adult involvement. We also have the kids do chores/homework to earn screen time, but I need to be paying attention to what they’re doing to some extent.

      It’s also difficult to send them outside to play when there aren’t other kids outside. I can’t be their activity director but they say everything else is “boring” and they usually devolve to squabbling with one another because they don’t know what to do. It’s also not a matter of giving them a chance to “figure it out” on their own – they’re in grades 7 & 8 and have been given plenty of time

    • #135317

      There have been generations of children that grew up without screens. Depending on screen time to finish their chores isn’t preparing them for the rest of their lives because once they are grown they will not limit themselves. I am 22 and have seen how video games being the only passion creates poor work ethic, lack of financial responsibility, lack of concern for physical health, social alienation. I am also ADHD but was limited strictly on screen time. I was made to volunteer, look at books, draw, etc. I am now a functioning adult with severe adhd and am close to buying my first house. Video games are ok in moderation (1-2 hrs a day) I would say. But it isn’t your child’s right to have screen time, it is not preparing them for their future.

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