Undoubtedly, being a parent can make fools of us all.
If babies arrived with personal how-to manuals (there should be an APP for that) we – and they – could be spared much psychological damage.
Most parents and carers do their best to ‘get it right’, while some revel in ‘getting it wrong’. Take, for example, the headline-grabbing comments of Kirstie Allsopp.
During a TV chat, Ms. Allsopp explained that her two boys’ had ignored all attempts to limit ‘screen time’ on ‘Fortnite’ – a hugely popular computer game – and this resulted in Kirstie smashing both sons iPads ‘against table legs’.
Certainly, mum had reached the end of her tether – children are evil geniuses in parental provocation – and, presumably, the boys were distressed by the demise of their tablets.
I relate to to those ‘parent losing it in the heat of the moment’ times.
Even though my daughter is now at university, I have semi-permanent parental regrets.
Like others, I feel guilt at not ‘doing it right’.
Not so Kirstie, who unabashedly relayed her unconventional parenting technique for a TV audience.
Thus her confession became a media talking point. Cynics may say that was the aim.
As a journalist, I contributed to several such conversations including for BBC Breakfast.
On Twitter – the virtual equivalent of stocks on a village green – collective outrage was summoned and #ipadgate and ‘Kirstie AllSTROP’ was born.
Kirstie took to Twitter with her outraged justifications, thousands raged back at her – and Kirstie then deleted her Twitter account.
Having experienced a social media backlash, I empathise, the manufactured rage can be overwhelming.
This time, though, I found myself agreeing: “take the chargers instead!…what about giving the iPads to less privileged families?…what a terrible lesson for children!”.
Unquestionably, destruction – unless you’re in the business of controlled explosions – is lose-lose territory.
As a tactic to teach children better behaviour it’s absurd.
It’s also hard – but imperative – to follow through. There can be no replacing of dead tablets.
Blaming tools, and not the user, denies personal responsibility as it fails to teach the importance of moderation.
Until we know more about the long-term impact of excessive computer gaming, responsible parents are forced to confront defiant children resisting limitations on their ‘screen time’.
Smashing an iPad is an emotionally and financially extreme way of tackling it.
Even for those who relish generating headlines.