Is Arguing With My Son About Screen Time Decreasing My Life Span?

October 28, 2013 | By | Comments (5)

computer-desk_2_300I realized with despair over the weekend that this is how I now seem to spend my time:

30 percent: Working
20 percent: Sleeping
10 percent: Moving clutter from one room of the house to another
40 percent: Arguing with my teenage son about screen time

You could make the case that working and sleeping are absolutely necessary, if I don’t want to default on my mortgage or forget how to perform basic human functions like tying my shoes and breathing. Moving clutter (and by “clutter” I mean crapola that mostly belongs to the other creatures I live with: soccer cleats; dog toys; Nerf guns; cereal bowls with dried milk pooled at the bottom) also seems necessary to my survival, if I don’t want to live in a pigsty or break my neck on the hard plastic thingamabob that someone has mysteriously left in the very middle of the stairs.

The 40 percent of my life that is now spent arguing with my 15-year-old about screen time also seems necessary, if I want to be a “good” parent (whatever the heck that means) and someone who is trying to pass her “values” (whatever they are) on to the next generation. But really, it’s so exhausting. And I think it is affecting my life expectancy. Not in a good way.

This is how my son now seems to spend his time:

15 percent: School
30 percent: Sleeping
10 percent: Facebook
45 percent: League of Legends

Don’t know what League of Legends is? I didn’t either, until it took over my son’s life. (For the uninitiated: the League of Legends Wikipedia page)

There are many issues in parenting where the right path is perfectly clear. Eating nothing but French fries? Unhealthy. Crossing the street without looking? Dangerous. Breaking up with someone by text? Unacceptable. Spending hours a day with headphones on, shouting at your friends as you all play League of Legends together? I…uh…just don’t know. Is it worse to fight with your teenager over a video game (thus raising your own blood pressure and quite possibly leading to your early demise) or live in harmony while he turns paler and paler and begins to flunk all his classes? Sure, in the latter scenario you, Mom, might live longer, but your son will eventually stop leaving his room altogether and will grow up to be one of those people who is never seen in public, like Boo Radley or Edward Snowden. At this point I am waiting for God to give me a sign: Fight, or throw in the towel? But I think God has bigger issues to attend to because my sign hasn’t come yet.

People say parenting a teen is hard. I say parenting a teen is not so hard, but parenting a teen who is addicted to League of Legends is all but impossible. And if I never post on this blog again, you’ll know I died trying.

If you (unlike my children) want to hear more from me, you can follow me
on Twitter @kvanogtrop.


  1. VanSan

    It seems to me that if things are left scattered all around, they won’t be missed if they end up in the trash, right? (Just kidding, sort of).

    October 28, 2013 at 4:19 pm
  2. amazondotblonde

    Oh Kristin, I’m nodding my head vigorously with understanding. I’m three years up the road from you. My now 18yo is massively obsessed with LOL. He’s in a LOL Club in high school, for heaven’s sake! Here’s the deal – I fought it, just like you – FOR YEARS. And last year he bought (and built, I might add) his own computer with money he earned as a cook. His grades are really quite decent. So I quit the fight. I do enforce yardwork, housework and some extracurricular things, but I’m done giving him time limits and then turning into a prancing mudbeast when he doesn’t end (“I can’t quit in the middle of a game, Mom!!”). I’m with you in solidarity. Just do your best to survive. (I LOVE this post of yours, and all the others, I might add).

    October 28, 2013 at 5:09 pm
  3. Barbara

    When my children were in school and had tons of activities, friends, school, homework we had many arguments about TV. Finaly I did a colour coded time table showing that there was not enough hours for everything, something had to go. I had them choose between activities, friends or electronics. They chose wisely and we agreed to NO computer or TV (monitored school work being the only excption) from Mon-Fri evening. Friday through Sunday they had unlimited access. Being most activities and friends happened during the weekend unlimited was interpretive. Gone was the tension, an immediate improvement. I no longer dealt with “but this is my favorite show!” or game or even commercial. A simple reminder of the day of week was all that was required. All of a sudden homework was completed, kids were not over tired, I was not the enemy. They also saw how much more smoothly life moved when we had more time. As adults I find they are very selective with TV time or I should say “waste of time”.

    October 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm
  4. Sandi

    I think back to the 80’s when my own son lived his life around “Dungeons and Dragons” –the game, the clubs, etc. And any spare minute was spent feeding quarters to the local game spot playing PacMan. I despaired. He continued living in this alternate world, even while taking all the AP classes he could, playing High School Soccer, and flaunting a new record in 1st-place medals in the Acedemic Decathalon. Seriously, how could this consume so much of his life and he still be successful in other areas? I was so frustrated by his obsession. My Mother-knowledge was compromised!
    The man is now grown, holds a very responsible job, owns a house, has a great relationship, and enjoys adventure-filled vacations that I never quite managed for myself. I don’t know if all that fantasy helped, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt.
    I say cut back by half on your arguing and do something yourself that’s so interesting that he may want to join in!! They don’t stay teens forever, either!!

    October 30, 2013 at 3:49 pm
  5. Juliana

    Finding something interesting to do so that my teenage son will join me?? you gotta be kidding me. It does not work with them. Actually I don`t know what does.

    January 7, 2015 at 6:23 am

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