My tween son gets iPad with­drawal

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Q: I am­intrigued by the ef­fect tech­nol­ogy use in tweens might have as kids get older.

My9-year-old is al­lowed time on the iPad, but not alone, and just got ac­cess to an Xbox, and I feel that we are fairly an­ti­quated in our ap­proach com­pared to other par­ents.

Not that I care what other par­ents might think, but per­haps I am­pro­tect­ingmy son from noth­ing?

He gets so grumpy when he has spent an hour on it, though, that I just feel I have to limit him.

I cer­tainly don’t think you’re pro­tect­ing your son from noth­ing. We still don’t know the ef­fects the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion will have on this gen­er­a­tion of chil­dren, so you’re wise to limit and mon­i­tor your 9-year-old’s screen time.

It’s good to think about this now so you’ve got strate­gies in place be­fore he’s a teenager.

I also think you’re wise to let your son have some screen time. No mat­ter how idyl­lic our child­hoods with their no com­put­ers may seem in

A:

ret­ro­spect, that’s not the re­al­ity of the world we live in now. The vir­tual play­grounds of your son’s age are as real as the swings and slides of pre­vi­ous ages.

It’s also im­por­tant to have a com­puter lit­er­ate and savvy child. How­ever, the fact that your son is grumpy when he’s spent an hour on an iPad or Xbox is telling.

His grumpi­ness is like a with­drawal symp­tom, a let­down. The drug of his choice, the screen, is fin­ished for the day.

Other telling signs are: con­stantly talk­ing about when he can next get on­line; ly­ing about how long he’s had; sneak­ing the de­vice away to con­tinue play­ing sur­rep­ti­tiously.

Your son has to learn to man­age and main­tain his own healthy re­la­tion­ship with his screen time.

Some sug­ges­tions for help­ing him with this are: don’t let your son have his iPad time just be­fore bed­time; turn the vol­ume and bright­ness set­ting down; and avoid ag­gres­sive apps that wind your son up.

An­other sug­ges­tion that I read re­cently is to en­cour­age some of his iPad time to be a so­cial in­ter­ac­tion. Maybe you could find some­thing that you could both do to­gether be­fore he has to put it away.

It’s tempt­ing to use the iPad as a glo­ri­fied ‘‘peace­time’’ for you, but in­ter­act­ing with you and then clos­ing it to­gether will let him learn by ex­am­ple.

Tech ex­perts also rec­om­mend that you model your own screen time.

If you’re chat­ting to your son, try not to keep glanc­ing at your phone, and you could make your meal­times and fam­ily times screen free. Mary-anne Scott has raised four boys and writ­ten three nov­els for young adults, in­clud­ing Stick­ing With Pigs (Tree House). As one of seven sis­ters, there aren’t many par­ent­ing prob­lems she hasn’t talked over. To send her a ques­tion email life.style@stuff. co.nz with Dear Mary-anne in the sub­ject line. Your anonymity is as­sured.

123RF

It is prob­a­bly wise to let your son have some screen time as tech­nol­ogy is the re­al­ity of the world we live in now.

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