Changing The Channel
Screen time is a controlled commodity in my household; with five children ranging between 18 and 3 along with two adults, it is a worthy (though perilous) endeavour to guard our hearts and shepherd our affections. Our screen-time strategy is as complex as the needs of our children, so most of the time it involves a considerable amount of angst and second-guessing, but on the whole it is a strategy worth persisting with. Among other controls, each of our children have a time where they are ‘in charge’ of the remote (of course, the power to veto is only a parentally disproving look away). It is this ‘in charge’ component of the strategy that reveals the well of my frustration, though it is not equally true for all my children.
My 10 year old son, who has been in our care from birth, has an acquired brain injury caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol in his birth-mother’s womb. My precious boy has lived a decade on earth, but mostly views the world through the eyes of an infant. A remote in his hands, even under the watchful eyes of his mother, is a magicians wand filled with the power of the unknown. Each program, each scene, each song, and each episode, lasts far shorter than the director designed. If we can get through 30 seconds without the channel being changed, the scene being skipped, or the song being abandoned, well, that’s a good day. I’ve got to be honest, it drives me crazy! The other children groan and leave the room. I grit my teeth and ride the roller-coaster of distraction.
“I’m done.” “What’s next?” “I’m sick of this.” “Oh, this next one’s my favourite!”
Please can we just watch one thing through?! I want to groan and leave the room too.
Now the house is quiet and the children are sleeping. A cup steams silently beside me as I settle down beside my wife for our movie night. Netflix options scroll across the screen as I scan my options. As my wife says something I don’t quite hear, I keep one eye on the big screen while I share my attention with the little red icon blaring from my iPhone. As I close down one app, I wonder how my blog stats are going this evening, after all, that last article on focused discipline was a killer!