My screen junkie might need an intervention

I helped Joe work on an entry for an essay contest this weekend. As I suspected, it was hard to get him to give up his free time to work on the project, but he volunteered to participate and I was going to hold him to his commitment.

I was down-and-out with a nasty bug on Saturday, so my periodic reminders about working on it weren’t backed with much vigor. I started with the prompts again mid-morning Sunday. He was on his computer playing games online. My plan was to pull together a couple-day shopping list, quickly hit the market, get dinner in the crock pot and then get Joe started. We’d work for a while, stop for lunch and then resume work to finish up the first draft that was expected at school Monday.
Turns out I still wasn’t moving very fast. When I returned from the market it was much later than I planned. Joe was still on the computer in the very spot where I left him nearly two hours earlier. I hate to admit it, but that’s not an unusual occurrence. I decided to leave him; we’d get started on the essay after lunch. I told Joe the plan and made him repeat it back to me.
“OK, Joe. Time to shutdown. We need get started.”

 

“OK. In a minute.”
“No. No more minutes. You had plenty of warning. Shutdown now.”
As suggested by a therapist we’ve worked with, I let a couple of minutes pass to allow Joe to transition. When he still wasn’t complying, I inserted myself into his personal space, getting sterner and louder. (Came up with that one on my own.)
It was clear my presence in his “bubble” was causing him stress and agitating him. “Come on, Joe. Now.” He sucked in air and balled his hands into fists, pulling them near his face. Instinctively I braced for the outburst, but surprisingly he kept it together, slamming his laptop closed.
“There! Are you happy?” he yelled, exploding from his chair and stomping off across the room.
“Thank you, Joe. Now can you get the essay information off my desk in the office, please?”
He returned with the paper in hand and gave it to me. When I looked up from reading, he was sitting next to me on the sofa playing his iTouch. “Joe, turn that off,” I snapped. He gave no sign that he’d heard me. “Joe, put that down, now,” I said louder, reaching to snatch it when he still hadn’t moved.
He sprung an evasive maneuver and ran to another seat in the family room, his fingers still moving across the tiny screen. I pursued and positioned my body over him. I had him cornered in an armchair. I grabbed the device away and he screamed, fleeing up the stairs. I caught up with him before he reached his room.
“Come on, Joe,” I panted with complete calm. “This is your project. You told Danielle you were going to do it and you need to follow through. I’ll help you. We’ll use our teamwork and have it done in no time,” I said, cueing him with words I knew would bring him off the ledge.
Just like getting homework done, it was a process of fits and starts. Joe meandered and found distractions. At one point he asked to take a break upstairs. I ran a quick checklist in my head: computer and iTouch with me, Nintendo DS in family room, Gameboy in car. “OK, Joe. Go ahead.”
After a while I heard voices upstairs. My daughter had been in her room. “Nathalie, did you leave your radio on?” Negative. “Well, what’s that noise coming from then?”
“Oh, that’s the Wii.”
I had completely forgotten it was up there, long neglected in favor of other devices. But like the junkie he is, being cut off from all his preferred screens for an extended period, Joe found his way to a fix.
A new study recently published by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests excessive gaming may lead to depression, anxiety, and poor grades. And in August, the same organization published a report indicating that video games, like television, were associated with a higher incidence of attention problems in children who were engaged with screens for more than the 2 hours a day recommended by the Academy.
Clinicians worldwide are currently engaged in a debate about the validity of so-called Internet Addiction Disorder which generally afflicts children age 12-18.
And I think Joe might be a junkie. I need to give some serious thought—again—to a game plan to curb his ever-increasing screen time. (No pun intended.)

Tammy Murphy

Tammy Murphy is a journalist on hiatus. She’s the mother of two—a 14-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son whose ADHD and related symptoms were evident practically from the womb. Tammy is a native of Maryland and a recent Georgia transplant. She started blogging about her up-and-down experiences with Joe—and life in general—as much-needed therapy.

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attention/focus, General ADHD, parenting/FAMILY, Tammy Murphy, Tammy Time ·

About the author

Tammy Murphy is a journalist on hiatus. She’s the mother of two—a 14-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son whose ADHD and related symptoms were evident practically from the womb. Tammy is a native of Maryland and a recent Georgia transplant. She started blogging about her up-and-down experiences with Joe—and life in general—as much-needed therapy.

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The "ADHD Mommas" are not medical or mental health professionals, nor an ADHD coach. Any opinions shared here are just that, opinions. I, and the other "ADHD Mommas," are sharing our experiences with our own ADHD children. Please do not re-post or publish any content or photos without a link back to {a mom's view of ADHD}. Have the courtesy to give credit where credit is due. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

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