When we were kids there used to be one TV in the house that showed children’s programs for one hour a day. Our parents never had to worry about us spending too much time in a zombie-like position in front of a screen.
Within a decade everything has changed and we are now living in an extremely technical world, where we spend a lot of time watching different screens throughout the day.
How does that affect our children? Should we simply accept that this is the world we live in now and let our children spend as much time as they wish watching, or should we limit the screen time for children?
It’s a serious and urgent question and we are going to discuss some aspects of it here.
Positive aspects of screen time for children
Personally I don’t see many positive aspects to children watching TV or any kind of screen at a young age. I don’t care much about children learning. They can do it later and the side effects simply aren’t worth it. There is however one positive aspect to screen time and we shouldn’t underestimate its importance:
They are the best things to use when we, parents, need a break.
I know. We all plan on being the best, most giving, patient, supportive parents for our little ones. But there is a limit to how long we can put our own needs aside. Be it a major lack of sleep, a tough emotional condition you’re facing, fighting with your partner, worrying over something. Some days being a parent, or simply a person, are not easy.
If you are home with your children and recognize you are struggling with your own issues, putting your children in front of a screen and giving yourself a moment for yourself could be the wisest thing you could do.
Kids require a lot of patience. I believe it’s better they watch some TV than you lose it on them.
Screens are addictive
The first big problem with introducing screens to children is that it’s very addictive.
By simply clicking a button and gazing, they are in a world that is fun and so rich and interesting. So much easier than playing. No need to invent, no need to communicate, no need to think. No mess. No need for us parents to do anything.
Sounds a little like heaven, doesn’t it?
That is exactly why it is so addictive.
What’s wrong with being addicted to screens?
Being addicted to anything is not that great. Being addicted to screens while you are still a young child is really not the best thing.
There are researches today that talk about connections that have been found between screen time and a decrease in some aspects of brain activity. Other researches are tying a connection between screen watching to slow development of speech and communication. The issue of sitting motionless instead of moving and running about has obviously increased the problem of over weight children, and the list goes on and on.
The main problem
In coming to discuss ways of solving these issues and creating an environment where our young ones come across fewer screens and go about being children, we are faced with one major problem – us.
The adult world is completely overtaken by technology today. Be it work, keeping up with the world and news, keeping in contact with loved ones that live far away, me writing this article now..
In this last year, while the whole world is facing Covid, the use of screens has accelerated even more. Older children spend their school hours in front of screens.
It is very difficult, if not at all impossible, to create an environment for our young ones that is screens clean, because our own world as adults is filled with those.
What can we do?
Ok. We understand it’s not great for our children. We understand our world is filled with screens. We understand it is impossible for us to completely succeed here.
That, however, do not mean we completely give up.
The secret, as in many cases life throws upon us, is in finding that narrow, unpaved trail that is called – doing our best.
As we love our children so very dearly, doing our best doesn’t seem good enough for us in many cases, as it is not perfect and has a lot of things in it that we would rather were not there. The instinct in a situation like that is to completely give up and let go.
I believe this is where, as adults and parents, lies our responsibility. Changing the letting go to doing our best.
Doing our best
What can we actually do?
Just be aware and make some time that is free of screens while we are with our little ones.
Get them out of the house. Get their bodies moving (you’re welcome to have a little read about the importance of that here).
Make sure they play with other children. Let their imagination work (a bit about that here).
Just make sure you add the things you find important. They will not be the only things there, but if they are there on a daily basis, they will have their impact.
Be aware and restrain yourself a little with screens too. Let’s be honest – we love those things too. Be it for pleasure watching, learning, communicating. They are great.
Let’s treat them as sweets, or alcohol, or whatever it is you know you love having too much in a way that is not so good for you.
Enjoy them and yet restrain ourselves a little.
Best of luck 🙂
Please let me know how you manage to handle this problematic issue. It’s always nice to get ideas and realize you’re not battling alone.