The zombie’s gone! The zombie’s gone! And in its place is a lovely normal nine-year-old.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the change I’ve seen in my grandson since computer time had increased. He had what we all thought were healthy boundaries and he could be creative in the games he was playing. But even with those considerations, he was becoming more and more obsessed with the characters and the games. He talked about them when he woke up. When he got home from school. During dinner. It’s all he could talk about. He talked about what they could do, what he made them do and what he was going to do next. He had lost interest in Legos, in building robotics, in just about everything he used to do. He was disconnected socially. And if a late dinner or extra errand interrupted screen time, he was miserable, and more than willing to let everyone nearby know just how miserable and unfair it all was.
At the same time, he was struggling with sleep. He fell asleep in school a few times. Couldn’t wake up for school or fell asleep the minute he got home. This was all very puzzling because mom is very strict about bedtime, knowing most kids don’t get enough sleep and he wasn’t going to be one of those statistics. After a few weeks of wondering what was going on with him, we realized there was more computer time happening than we thought. Turns out, he was sneaking in extra time before school, after lights out and in the wee hours of the morning. He was literally missing one or two hours of sleep a night and developing some unpleasant behaviors.
His mom decided he needed an intervention of sorts and banned him from any kind of tech for two weeks. Somewhere in those 2 weeks, he fell off the wagon, ever so slightly, and the ban was extended. Bad for him. Good for him.
And while he still has limited access, I’m happy to say – he’s back ! Our bright, curious, creative nine-year-old is back. It was gradual reentry to life without tech and we enjoyed seeing him come out of the fog. These are some things we’ve noticed overall:
- He’s more connected to the people around him. It’s like a cloud has lifted and he can see again. He’s more aware of what’s happening. He wants to hang out and do things together. He’s back to Legos, building and lots of other interests.
- He can talk. He has always been very relational, talkative and thoughtful, but had gotten moody and disinterested. He’s laughing, engaging and talking. A lot. And not about game characters.
- He’s more focused. Now that he’s not always thinking about Minecraft or Roblox, he has “room” to think about more things. His focus and attitude doing homework is much improved, as well as classroom behavior. He’s lighter. More fun again. More playful.
- He’s more flexible. Instead of being fixated on when he’s getting back to the computer, he looser. More flexible. Sees more options. Is much more pleasant.
- He’s nicer. Or as his mom says – “He’s a better human being.” Gone is the moodiness. The apathy. The passive-aggressive nonchalance. He’s just a normal nine-year-old boy. A sweet, creative, active nine-year-old.
I feel like my grandson’s been rescued from the dark abyss. And even better, as a family we’re more aware of the connection between behavior and screen time. When you consider what can happen with too much tech, adults and children alike, this was relatively simple incident. But enough to show us to stay vigilant, especially as he gets older.
I encourage you to take note of the amount of screen time your kids are logging and see if there might be some adjustments to be made.
Drop a note in the comments below to let us know what happens in your house when you limit tech time.