Because sometimes, that’s the only way to increase productivity at work.
The guilt is nauseating after every one of those important meetings when I have to sit my kids down in front of a screen for an hour just so I can discuss a work issue in peace. If the meeting goes on longer, it means one more joyous episode of Troll Hunters for them. The reward for me, though, is intellectual satisfaction from having contributed well to the discussion and getting that one more glimpse of the professional go-getter in me.
The real economics going on here is : An inch more of self-worth as a professional, in exchange of a broken rule. Once in a while, its okay!
The problem is when this becomes a pattern — a dynamic one. At first, it goes like this, Me in a meeting > Kids watching TV > me feeling uplifted > then me feeling guilty. Next time, the kid knows its ok to break rules, so the pattern subtly shifts without the mom realising, and goes like this, Me doing everyday work > kids browsing stuff of the iPad > me scolding > kids feeling confused > me feeling guilty. And the next shift is worse, where the kids feel its okay to browse YouTube when mom’s submerged in work and the video begins with an advert about an absolutely inappropriate gaming site, which they now won’t even talk about with me because they know mom’s going to be upset about the ‘extra’ screen time. Outcome: both sides are feeling guilty.
Now the economics gets intense : it’s a trade between breaking rules and breaking communication.
Honestly, I don’t have the answer. I have had to really convince myself a lot during the lockdown to shed my inhibitions about allowing a certain amount of screen time for kids. But now it’s like the drop of ink spreading out in the whole pool. Almost the entire day my kids (6 and 4) observe four grown-ups hooked to their devices acting all important and wise; speaking intelligent things very loudly on Zoom screens; clicking and re-clicking photos and smiling to themselves while reading social media comments; searching lock-down recipes; reading In-Shorts in the toilet.
Can we honestly convince children how screens affect our eyes and brain and hydration levels and sleep quality?