How am I supposed to wean my children off screens when they know I’m addicted too?
It started, last March, as an act of necessity – sticking the kids on iPads all day so I could make a hard deadline that fell six weeks into lockdown. There was no way around this; at five years old, my kids couldn’t manage their Zoom schedules or self-entertain for long without fighting, and I couldn’t break off every two minutes to help them. Overnight, kindergarten and after-school disappeared, to be replaced with the sedative of kids YouTube, and when the appeal of that started to wane, the more addictive and ruinous content on TikTok. If it was hideous, I told myself, it was an emergency. It wouldn’t be like this for ever.
A year later and in New York, at least, we’re in a radically different place. Next week my kids’ elementary school goes back full-time and although it lets out early – at 2pm – half of the city is now at least partially vaccinated, so most parents are comfortable hiring a sitter. (If they can find one, that is; indoor after-school programmes still seem risky to many, so the scramble is on for that already mythical creature, the 22-year-old sitter only looking for two hours work a day.) Things are, on the surface, starting to look vaguely like normal.
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