My Daughter was an asshole…Then we Took Away her Tablet

Let me preface this by giving you a bit of insight into our life. We are currently living in Virginia, about 50 miles south of Richmond, in the country. We don’t have cable and we have limited internet (a data plan). We own a Wii, the first one, not the WiiU or anything new. We have an iPad, I have a first gen iPod that is still alive and kicking, and we have a laptop. We don’t go out and buy the newest and greatest electronics. We even do Netflix the old school way by getting DVDs in the mail. We read books, we use pen and paper, we spend time outdoors.

All that said, you can imagine that our 8 year old daughter might feel left out sometimes. She had never played Minecraft, she isn’t watching the newest Netflix shows, she doesn’t watch Cartoon Network or Disney Channel, and she isn’t quite up on the latest and greatest out there for kids her age. So last year when we were deciding on what her BIG present should be for Christmas, a tablet was the first thing we thought of.

Pre-tablet, I’d say our daughter was the most awesome little person ever. She had fun doing everything. She enjoyed everything. She wanted to spend time with us and go places and do things. She loved to read books and would even stay up late in bed reading books. She loved to write stories and do art projects. And we never fought. Sure, we had our struggles just like all parents and kids, but nothing that wasn’t quick and solved and over and done with. She was our unicorn child. You know, the ones you only read about but don’t really exist.

Christmas 2015 arrives and she gets her tablet. Its the best thing ever. She even got a couple Google Play gift cards to spend. Minecraft was downloaded along with other games and even a couple movies. We lost her that day. She went into her room and never came out.

But first, we did have rules. Since we are on a data plan, no wifi while at home. We could do wifi if we went to Starbucks or other places. She could do Minecraft but also had to do other things. No BUYING anything unless she had a gift card. And no tablet at night.

Things went well for a while. She followed all the rules. She would put the tablet away when we asked. She would still do all the other things she loved. Until she didn’t. I’ll admit that at first it didn’t bother us. Like all parents, it was a babysitter sometimes. And don’t lie, you use devices for the same reason. We all do. If my husband and I wanted to watch a movie uninterrupted, the tablet helped with that. Then, the hour of tablet time after homework turned into all evening. The 3 hour drive to DC was 3 hours on the tablet. Weekends were spent begging to go to Starbucks so she could watch a Youtube video or download a new game. She never wanted to do anything else. Read a book? Ha! I’d have to force her to read and that’s never fun. Color? Why color on paper when you could build something amazing on Minecraft? And the fighting…holy shit this girl liked to fight with us.

And it wasn’t just the fighting over tablet time. It was fighting over EVERYTHING!! And the attitude. I would joke with friends that I had a 16 year old 8 year old. She was turning into an asshole. And I had no problem telling her that. She had an attitude about something silly, asshole. She wanted to fight with me about eating dinner, asshole. Everything was a fight and she was an asshole about everything. She would huff and puff when we asked her to do normal stuff. She would talk back. Everything was a negotiation. “Fine! I’ll eat my broccoli if I can play the tablet.” We didn’t give into these negotiations of course; we did do that part right. She was rude to us and other people. My daughter was an asshole. I honestly didn’t realize what the problem was. I started to question my parenting. I thought I was doing everything wrong because my unicorn child was turning into the asshole kids I see at the grocery store yelling at their parents.

Why was this happening? It never clicked.

Fast forward to this summer. I flew her to San Diego to spend the entire almost 3 months with my parents. The perk? Unlimited wifi. That child would spend HOURS upon hours on Youtube watching Minecraft videos and crap. And my parents noticed the attitude. She wasn’t there but maybe 2 weeks when the shit hit the fan.

I woke up to $200 spent on Google Play. At first I thought I had been hacked because, “My daughter would never do that. She knows better. She follows the rules!” I had my dad do some recon work and found out it was her. I really couldn’t believe it. All her assholeness aside, I didn’t think she’d do something like this. That was the last day she had a tablet.

Within two days my mom called me and told me that the old daughter was back. She was back to doing Legos, reading books (she read about 20 books while in California), coloring, and being an awesome kid. She spent the rest of the summer living in a bathing suit, building an entire Lego city, traveling with my parents, doing art projects, and having a blast.

IMG954754

Here she is writing a story on a medieval tablet. 

IMG955154

Here she’s a goofball at In-n-Out. Even her goofballness was something that was missing during the tablet months. 

She’s been home almost a week now and my husband and I keep saying how we are so glad to have her back. But we don’t just mean physically. We are glad that we have the old daughter back. She’s back to being her old self. We were at an event the other day and rather than stand in a huge line SHE suggested we just walk over to the library so she could get more books. Instead of, “Can I go play my tablet now?” she says things like, “Wow, mom! I’ve read almost all the Junie B Jones books!” Instead of me finding her hiding in her closet playing the tablet, I find her in my craft room painting a canvas. (see below)

20160829_103645Man, did we miss her.

The reason I decided to write all this down for other people is because I noticed something after talking to friends. Their kids are acting the same exact way. The kids that are usually awesome have attitudes like teenagers and act like shit heads when they never did before. I have told them about the change in our daughter and they all have said, “You know what? I notice a change when they are on their devices too much.” I am not saying that the key to ending attitudes is no electronics, but it’s a damn good start. Try it. We’re not exactly glad the $200 happened, but it made us decide to end the tablet for good and it’s worked out better than we ever expected. Just today my daughter asked when she was going to get the tablet back. I said, “HA! Never.” And then I continued, “Maybe when you’ve grown up a bit but still maybe never.” Without a hint of attitude my daughter said, “Oh. Okay.” And now we’re doing a craft.

Another reason I wanted to write it all down is to let you know that no parent is perfect. I really and truly doubted myself for the 7 months my daughter was an asshole. I really did not ever think it was the tablet. I thought I was doing a shitty job as a parent. And maybe giving an 8 year old so much freedom was a shitty idea on my part. But we learned. And that’s the basis of raising kids right? Do bad shit and learn from it and hope you didn’t screw them up too much.

Update: I left the laptop open and my daughter read the first part of my title. She asked, “Why am I an asshole?” I told her that she WAS and now she’s not. She asked why and so I asked her why she thought she was. She said, “Because of my tablet.” Smart kid this one.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shari
    Aug 29, 2016 @ 20:27:07

    Man. I wish it was that easy with my kid. Lol we’ve taken all electronics away and yet he still asks for the thigs back everyday. He went all summer without DS or Xbox or tablet… Yet the shenanigans continued. Smh. Lol thank you for sharing your experiences. I’m staying strong in this. Because yes, electronics bring the worst out in kids. And it sucks. Lol

    Reply

    • Gwenniesmom
      Aug 29, 2016 @ 21:04:20

      This was not easy. Seriously, I was adamant about letting her keep it until the Google play incident. I honestly didn’t understand her attitude until it was too late. But now she’s back. And she knows she’s not getting it back. Maybe that’s the key.

      Reply

  2. carolochs
    Aug 30, 2016 @ 12:49:17

    I feel ya. And glad you got your Gwennie back! ❤ We, thankfully, did not have quite so many distractions/devices while raising our young kids (they all just weren't available yet!), except for the computer, and even that could get weird, especially when they each eventually had their own for homework purposes, and would go hibernate in their rooms and not want to come out.

    But David and I are always struck, just when out to eat even, we'll look over at families waiting for their food to arrive, and every blessed one of 'em, even the freakin' baby in the high chair, has a device in hand, that mystic glow of the device's light illuminating their attentive bug-eyed faces! It's great, as a fellow restaurant patron that you don't hear any screamin' kids, only dead-silence and some occasional clicking, but I have to admit, the hypnotic stares is creepy! Who says zombies aren't among us???

    I would hate to be competing with that as a parent if I were raising kids right now. And it's really hard, especially as more teen-like they become and that is where ALL their friends are hanging…in cyberspace. Sheesh! Look at how many ADULTS are completely and utterly hooked! It's a huge challenge, fer shore…but never underestimate your power as parents to steer that ship. Kudos for doing so! Sadly, a lot of parents don't take or make the time to *re-direct* and demonstrate other behaviors like reading/crafting/creating. They let Mark Zuckerberg raise their kids. Ew.

    Glad you're back, Gwen! You've got freakin' AWESOME parents! Hang onto them!!!

    Reply

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