I wrote a while ago about the agreement I had with the eight year old regarding his internet usage. We would not install the restrictive browser on his iPad as long as he could self-police himself and not purposefully view things that were inappropriate. One morning early this week, he had been watching Mythbusters on Netflix. He had thrown the iPad on the bed to go off to brush his teeth. I picked it up to check on what he had been doing on the internet. Imagine my surprise when I opened the browser and found two not-eight-year-old-friendly tabs open. One was some random girl’s page with a bunch of video clips. There were touching scenes of her in a garter and seamed stockings doing things like kissing herself in the mirror. At least she seemed to remain clothed. Then there was a Google page open where my son had searched the term “sexy boobs”. My first reaction was not shock. I suppose I felt slightly amused. Of course, if he had been accessing things which were much more, shall we say, hard core, the reaction would have been quite different. More along the lines of horror perhaps.
I ended up confronting him about it. The worst part of this whole story is that he wouldn’t admit that it had been him that had done it. He kept saying that he didn’t know how it was on his iPad. As if it had just searched itself. In a way, that lying part was almost worse than the original offense. He finally grudgingly admitted to the crime but by that time I had told him that I didn’t know how long the punishment would last because of his inability to tell the truth and for violated the internet agreement. So I confiscated the iPad and also told him that he had indefinitely lost all screen time. He typically gets a bit in the morning before school and a bit in the evening jammed in between bath, homework and dinner.
So for most of this week we have been screen free and unfortunately for him I have been really enjoying it. I remember when we went trick or treating with some people we had never met this past Halloween. The kids were all settled in front of the TV after what seemed like hours of candy gathering while the parents sat around chatting. It turned out that two of the kids were not allowed to watch any TV during the week at all. At the time I thought that this was crazy. I felt like my son spent his entire day, jam packed and mostly scheduled and that if we adults needed some time to decompress in the evenings then he likely did too. That was my TV defense. I can feel it continuing to crumble away as the week wears on. Our evenings seem less rushed. There seems to be more talking. It is more relaxed. We have more time. It is going to be tough to go back to the old way. My son feels that his screen time is a right and not one he wants to give up. I am hopeful that we can find a happy medium. Maybe screen time only in the morning? We will have to work that out. As for the egregious internet searching, I may end up having to install the parental control browser on the iPad. I am still reluctant to bring the hammer down but it may end up being the best choice for all of us. I hope to be able to make the decision collaboratively with my son so he feels he has a voice. So we can all avoid any accidental viewing of Lady Gaga’s boob (or worse).