I would have loved to title this post “Beating the Candy Crush Addiction”, but that would be a lie. Facing up to it is much more realistic, managing it is a skill that is getting there but it is real and it has been a problem.
I have always known I have an addictive personality. My desire to always be in control of myself physically and emotionally probably meant I was unlikely to be drawn to some things like smoking, drinking or drugs. However, I have also always been thankful I never liked them much and so the attraction was not there.
However I know I struggle with what some might term ‘less obviously damaging’ addictions. My body and mind stay healthy - but boy can I waste time! I can play iPhone games for hours, I can read fiction for hours, I can get obsessed by home projects for hours and I can look at Facebook multiple times a day.
Realising this tendency and being willing to acknowledge it has taken years. But it’s probably taken having children that are at an age to notice what I do that has really made me pay attention.
When they would walk out and check what level I was up to on Candy Crush or my progress on Plants vs. Zombies, or wonder why I was spending hours of the weekend sanding windows, I had to analyse my own behaviour and what I was modelling.
- Do I want my children to learn self-control? Yes
- Do I want my children to know when to stop? Yes
- Do I want my children to know they are more important than a game? Yes
- Do I want my children to think that as a stay-at-home mum I had endless time that I wasted? No
- Do I want my children to learn that leisure activities and hobbies are fine, but in moderation and generally only when essential things are completed? Yes
- Do I often feel that I should spend more time with my kids playing games and reading books, but don’t? Yes
This issue has been drifting around for me for ages. I have managed it with reading only in holidays, downloading certain games only on holidays and I shut down Facebook for 9 months. But it really came to a head with Candy Crush this year. (For those who don’t know what it is, be thankful, but it’s an app that you move things around to get groups of three and need to solve challenges in doing so. When described like that, one wonders what the attraction is!)
I listened to an ABC conversation on gambling, and the speaker had written a book on casinos and gambling and how they destroy lives. The interviewer asked if she had ever had a gambling problem. She said, no, but while writing the book she developed an addiction to Candy Crush and started to realise the attraction of gambling and poker machines. It is called something like “Positive Feedback Reinforcement” where nice colours and flashing symbols make you feel good. It rang very true for me.
So cue decision time. First was acknowledging it was a problem, this took much longer than it should have. Second was deleting it off most devices. Third was telling the kids what I had done and why (& my husband and some friends).
It’s still in management phase. It has crept back onto most devices, because the kids also like to play it and their screen time is very monitored. I seem to have it pretty well under control at the moment. I generally only let myself play during tea/coffee breaks and only for as long as it take me to drink the tea/coffee - and seeing I like it hot, that’s not too long.
So, there you go - my issues for you all to read about.
Do you struggle with similar things? How have you managed it?