It was vacation. We were staying with Kubla’s cousins for the week. All the big kids wanted to do was play video games on the computer. It was the first time he had seen computer games. Kubla was hooked.
The big kids go out. Kubla takes over the screen. Five hours later he is still there. He is a zombie, neither fully alive nor fully dead. He stares blankly at the screen. He isn’t enjoying himself anymore, but he’s unable to turn away, as if the screen has captured his soul.
“Kubla, time for bed.”
Liping and I reach to pick him up and turn off the computer. He explodes. Full blown tantrum. It takes 30 minutes to calm him down so he can sleep.
He wakes up the next morning. “I want to play video games.”
A couple more days pass. More tantrums. He loses a little more of his soul.
Next morning he asks to play again.
“Sure, we can play. But we need to talk first. Is candy delicious?”
“Do you like to eat candy?”
“What happens if you have a little candy after lunch?”
“What happens if you only eat candy for lunch, and nothing else?”
“I get a tummy ache.”
“Are video games fun?”
“What happens if you play video games for 20 minutes?”
“What happens if you play video games for 5 hours?”
“I go crazy.”
“Yes, TV and Video games are like junk food. A little bit is fun. Too much and your brain turns to mush. How about this—let’s set an alarm for 20 minutes. I’ll play together with you. When the alarm goes off, so does the computer.”
He chooses a game. It’s more fun now that we’re playing together. The alarm goes off. We have a tickle fight in the next room. He’s connected with me, not just with a screen. The spell is broken.
What addictions do your little ones have? How can you find a way to stay connected with them when their addiction closes them off from the world?
In two weeks I’ll give a free Kidorable umbrella to whoever makes my favorite comment.