Does an internet addicted mom create internet addicted kids?

Over the winter holidays this year, my household bumped up to the next level with technology. By January I had my first smart phone ever (an iphone) an ipad (I am in love) our first flat screen TV and a new computer (our former one was seven years old.) The upgrade was a long time coming, and I don’t regret it. But I have been seriously challenged trying to stay away from my new toys. The new technology combined with my passion for blogging and my whole community of cool, amazing women on Facebook means I can literally spend hours on various screens.

So here are the problems:

(1) I’m writing a book. Writing books is hard. Especially when there are kids around. I’ll take any opportunity to stop writing (“I need to RSVP to that kid’s party right now!”) and then I get STUCK by some email, lured onto Facebook, lured onto my blog. Then I don’t write. I feel shitty. Like an addict, seriously.

(2) My kids want screen time. The more time I spend on the screen, the more time my kids want on the screen. More and more as a mom, I am realizing what I say means close to nothing. What I do, that’s a whole different thing. My kids really pay attention to what I do, and if I am obsessed with something, they are as well. Screen time is now the biggest thing we fight over in my house.  My kids want to look up things on the internet, they want to buy apps for my iphone. This includes my two year old, because she sees her sisters begging and repeats what they say. Talking to my kids, yelling at my kids, giving my kids consequences did not change their behavior. You know what did? I stopped using the computer around them. I stopped taking out my iphone and checking my email. They stopped asking. This weekend we hung out in the backyard and made fairyhouses and looked for bugs. We practiced bik eriding. We read a lot. My kids did tons of fantasy play with each other.

Normally, I hop on the computer when I don’t think they’re looking. When they’re really engaged in something else so I don’t think they’ll notice. But they do notice. And when I’m on, I’m always only half present to them, and when they want my attention, I often feel annoyed. I don’t at all think I need to available to my kids in all my free weekend moments. But for now, I’m trying reading a book or doing chores when they’re around and I think they’re occupied. It’s really for my own sake. I’m sick of the arguments about screens. So far, the whole family is much happier. It’s been four days…

11 thoughts on “Does an internet addicted mom create internet addicted kids?

  1. What a great post and a great solution. If only more parents realized that actions speak so much louder than words. (My favorite Emerson quote, “Don’t say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.”) I am grateful to parents like you because you are shaping our future in a positive way. Thank you!

  2. Wow. Like any addict, I have only just realized that I have a problem. These devices are too available now–you don’t even have to go to a designated place or room, like an “office,” to have access to them! They are right there in your hand or pocket!

    So my kids too fight over who’s turn it is to play with which device. I combat this mostly by getting them outside and that seems to work. Will have to work on my modeling behavior.

    Thanks for letting me know that I am not alone–is a blog support group about too much screen time an oxymoron?

  3. Since opening two Facebook pages, I am spending more time than I really enjoy online too. I love what I am learning and I love making a contribution and I hope it is serving also as a way to let people know about the Rites of Passage, Life Education and Circle work that I offer.

    And I think I need to find a way to be on the screen less.

    I am a mom too, but my children are in high school and pretty much make their own choices as far as how much time they spend in cyberland.

    Still, what I value in life is doing real world, human things like gardening, biking, cooking, volunteering, dancing and circling in community.

    So I really appreciate your post since it stimulates my pondering about the creative tension between the brights and shadows of the two worlds. I have been thinking about inviting some of my followers to be Administrators, and put up a post now and then. Maybe will try.

  4. I can certainly relate to this one. And I think you’re absolutely right– this may in fact be the most compact, distilled wisdom I’ve ever seen about parenting–that it doesn’t matter what we SAY as parents, it matters what we DO. Kids notice, they mimic.

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