TV star blasted for smashing kids' iPads

Section
Celebrity,
Publish Date
Sunday, 16 September 2018, 3:29PM

OPINION

A UK TV presenter has abandoned social media after she confessed on national television to "smashing" her sons' iPads and faced a barrage of backlash.

Kirstie Allsop, 47, said her decision to destroy the iPads came after her two sons refused to stop playing Fortnite and PUBG.

"In June I smashed my kids' iPads, not in a violent way. I actually banged them on the table leg" she told the stunned audience.

"We had made all sorts of rules and all sorts of times when we said you can't play them and all those rules got broken and in the end I said, 'Right that is it. I have to physically break them."

Allsop then added fuel to the fire on Twitter by comparing smashing the iPads to destroying a packet of cigarettes in a follow-up statement.

"If you found your kids with a packet of cigarettes would you say 'I won't destroy these because they are worth a tenner but please don't smoke?' No of course you wouldn't."

The condemnation on Twitter was so vitriolic, Allsop had to leave the social media platform.

We know there's a problem with kids and gaming. We know that, right? If you watched that 60 Minutes report earlier this month, in which parents of teens addicted to video games said they were "terrified" of their sons and could not stop them from playing, you're familiar with the narrative.

As a mother of two small kids who have yet to dive into the demonic arms of Fortnite, it's easy for me to sit back and say that the emotions driving these parents to places where they either give up, or smash up two $500 devices are the same emotions driving the kids deeper into the game-playing — rage, depression, despair, and poor impulse control all play a part.

It's easy for me to say, "Well, like parent, like child," and follow it up with a call on my Twitter account to pull the plug and tell the kids to shove it.

But here's why I'm not going to say that. Because it doesn't begin and end with Fortnite – it starts much, much earlier.

Look, some nights, when all I want to do is talk to my husband for literally 15 seconds without being interrupted by two small children who have just had my undivided attention, I reach for my phone, and I place it directly into their chubby little hands.

I do this, not because I want to shorten their attention spans, or turn them into unfeeling computer addicts, unable to recognise human emotions, (although that fear lurks at the bottom of my brain constantly). But, because I need just five minutes of peace. And sometimes — gasp — I need an hour of peace.

The reason I'm confessing to such below average parenting is I've seen how many clicks these mindless videos get, and I know I'm not alone.

Johnny Johnny — a bizarre, and frankly, off-putting 3 minute nursery rhyme — reached meme status in August because it has been viewed over 1.5 billion times.

Like I said, it starts young.

I hate that I do it, and yet, I am so exhausted sometimes, I need a break.

When my parents needed a break, they told us to go away, or go outside and don't come back 'til dark. Most parents used to spank kids. But you are not even allowed to yell at your children now, according to a report published in The New York Times last week – it's apparently as bad as spanking, and "makes you look weak".

You're a bad parent no matter what you do, so you might as well give up. Ok, that sounds like self-pity. But you can see how the parents get there, can't you?

Aren't our Netflix binge sessions a tad addictive? I mean, the word "binge" says it all doesn't it? What about our social media feeds, when we hop on to condemn whoever it is we feel superior to? Isn't it a tad hypocritical, that we are also behind screens? Aren't we all addicted on some level?

And maybe we are addicted because we need relief from the pull of work versus parenting, and the idea these days that you must excel at both.

You've got to give 100 per cent to your work and be available 24/7. But you've also got to give 100 per cent to your kids or you're going to screw them up.

Yes, gaming is a problem when you don't leave your room for two years. And yeah, it's not ideal to break stuff.

But maybe, if we are kinder to parents, who are already stretched because they've got to pay the mortgage somehow, then parents might be kinder to themselves – and their kids.