With both DH and I working in the tech industry for many years, and being major tech geeks, it comes as no surprise to anyone that knows us that as a household we are neck deep in tech devices. I’ve lost count of how many computers, laptops, phones, tablets etc we have, and have had, in this house. Despite being born in the 80s, when tech was expensive and not readily available, we both found a love of tech and electronics very very early on in our lives.
Fast forward to our 30s, and we now have kids. Whilst we have definitely passed on our love of tech to our kids, like most parents we started off second guessing ourselves when it came to giving our kids access to technology. With numerous headlines claiming screen time is ultra bad for our kids, who wouldn’t be?
Now I don’t claim to have all the answers, nor do I claim to be a medical professional. Yes, excessive screen time is most likely bad for our kids concentration, focus and eyes. However, do we really need to throw the baby out with the bath water?
As we’ve seen throughout history, everything developed and invented, can be used for destruction (usually bad) or progress (usually good). So I’m not saying sticking your kids in front of a screen for every waking hour is good, but I’m not convinced that zero screen time is what’s needed either. This is how it works for our family and this is what works for our family.
When our kids were very young, we didn’t do any console gaming with them. Now that they are a little older (5 & 2), we love how much they have learnt from playing age appropriate games with us. Strategy, learning how to lose graciously, learning to work together, are just some of the skills that they will carry into their daily lives. Yes, it can all be done with board games (and we do this too), but why dismiss technology when we can use it for good?
Learning & Teaching:
From quite a young age, both my kids were introduced to having time on the tablet. From learning their colours, to counting and the alphabet, each step of the way anything they learnt from us, was reinforced with various apps on the tablet. Each and every individual has a different learning style, so why not use technology to our advantage, right? Whether they were sitting next to us, or with master 5, in his own “tablet time”, all they’ve had available to them are educational apps. Whether they have noticed they are learning whilst playing, we will never know 😛
As anyone with kids will tell you, sometimes parents need a break! Now, I’m not suggesting leaving them for hours with the screen as a babysitter, but like any mum, 20 minutes without 2 crabby kids under foot whilst I make dinner, is brilliant! Whether infront of the TV for a 20 minute age appropriate educational TV show, or 20 minutes on the tablet, it really doesn’t matter as long as peace is attained. lol. If I’m finished early there’s no reason I shouldn’t just plop down on the couch next to them and listen to them call out to Blaze the Monster Machine which path he should take 😛
For me, screen time essentially comes down to 3 things –
the content; choosing content that is age appropriate & educational
the context; is screen time a major part of their day? Does it come before outdoor play or during mealtimes? Can we discuss aspects of what they are learning to build on that knowledge?
the child; watching the child to see how they react to what they have seen/learnt. Some days you can see when the child needs less tablet time & more interaction with us.
So when being smart about it, regulating the content, and the time infront of the screen, screen time can have positives for both parents & kids. So next time you pop on the TV for a few minutes to go to the loo in peace, or 20 minutes in order to make dinner, lose the guilt. I figure we have plenty more things to give us grey hairs 😉