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“My son is spending too much time on his computer”

I feel almost ashamed to say I have a problem because we’re a lot better off than some people at the moment. Nevertheless, I’m worried. My middle son is 13 and addicted to anything electronic. His wish list for Birthday’s and Christmas are almost all devices that I know will pre-occupy his every waking moment and keep him up half the night. His father says it’s normal for his age group and there’s no point in standing up against it but I just have this dread that we are helping him to turn away from the normal things like friends and being in the open air and reading. I suppose I really want you to tell me I’m worrying over nothing. Helen

Denise says:

I can’t tell you to stop worrying completely because I do think today’s children are too dependent on their phones and iPads and computers, not to mention TVs in the bedroom. Texter’s thumb will be gumming up the NHS in the future, if we’re not careful. However, I think you have to face the fact that for today’s children, electronic devices are ‘normal things’. Despite their drawbacks they broaden children’s horizons and parents have to learn to live with them while limiting the damage as much as possible. Your son will soon be entering the exam zone and you need to make sure he gets his sleep and lives a healthy life. A mother wrote to me recently, worried that her 15 year old was staying up half the night communicating with young people on the other side of the world, whose day was just beginning. That is both wonderful and scary. I think you need to talk with your son. Let him see that you understand the attractions of social media and games consoles and ask him, in return, to understand your fears. Emphasise the need for him to get good sleep, especially on schooldays. If he co-operates on this, allow him to set limits so that he feels responsible for his own lifestyle. You might be surprised at how sensible he’ll be if you give him responsibility. In addition ask his father to co-operate in getting him into the open air or group sports. Perhaps he could be encouraged to add to his list and include present ideas that would enable him to try a different sport or hobby. Hopefully, he’ll realise that you both have his welfare at heart and together you can make sure any future presents are a blessing and not a curse.

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