At nine years old, Ingrid has clearly outgrown the “child” stage and is now a pre-teen. She does not play with toys; she plays Minecraft.

Minecraft and Skype are her favourite “toys”. The center point of her evening is the time from after dinner to just after eight that she spends playing Minecraft with her friends while talking to them on Skype. Mini-games and parkour runs and servers and collaborative building and whatnot.

She’d been Skyping with her best friend M for a while, but recently she got in touch on Skype with other friends and now they’re a whole gang who hang out together most evenings, and a big chunk of each weekend as well.

A number of those friends are boys (but not all of them). It seems the kids are in a sweet spot now. They’re past the age when boys don’t play with girls because girls have girl games and boys have boy games – now they have shared interests again. (Or perhaps it’s the all-uniting gender-crossing power of Minecraft, who knows.) But they’re still in that innocent age when they can just play together with no embarrassment. Ingrid just asked today if she could have a sleepover at a boy’s home this weekend.

When she’s not playing Minecraft, she reads Kalle Anka and plays with friends, or hangs out with them. Several times now she has gone to the movies together with a friend, with no adult company. They’ve even had restaurant lunch on their own. It makes her feel grown up and competent.

I like the fact that she now uses the computer to do something, especially something that is both creative and social, rather than just watching Youtube videos. I count “screen hours” much less strictly when I know she’s Minecrafting. (That one Saturday when she was online with her friends from when she got up until 1 o’clock in the afternoon was the best weekend ever, she said.)

Still, she needs a set cutoff time, because she cannot stop otherwise. When she plays, she doesn’t notice the time, nor any signals from her body. In the evening we make her quit early enough that she has time to get the game out of her brain before bedtime – and also time enough to discover that she is actually hungry and needs an evening snack.

That deafness to her own body can reach astounding proportions. At a sleepover party last weekend she slept about 6 hours, which is about 3 hours short of what she needs. Then she went to the movies with a friend. When she got home in the afternoon, it was obvious that she was ready to collapse – emotionally fragile, close to tears about just about everything, no energy for anything. And yet she insisted that she was not tired, and she would never fall asleep even if she tried! And she seemed to fully believe it herself. Five minutes after she lay down on the sofa just to rest a bit, she was fast asleep.

She is surprisingly good at managing other parts of her life – parts that require planning and foresight, rather than listening to her body. She packs her own stuff for school every day, plans her homework for the week and actually remembers to do it. More than I did at 9 years of age, I’m pretty sure.