Watching the news last night, I was happy to see something that was informational about parenting. A woman was explaining why screen time is “bad” for little kids. While I agreed with her on some of her points, and I do not in any way encourage popping a child in front of a TV or a tablet every minute they are awake, I couldn’t get past one thing she kept saying over and over.
“When my children were young” It was a very simple phrase that she must have said at least five times. When her children were young TV had a different part in the family atmosphere. When her children were young they would play outdoors. When her children were young parents weren’t distracted by cell phones. But what would the mothers of two, three, four generations older than her have said about her parenting and their environment? Should she have kept her children from playing with plastic toys because they did? Would they have shamed her for allowing her children to play games like battleship and risk? Should her child have been doing more work and less play? Also, what did families look like then? There were still many stay at home parents. The cost of living/pay rate was a much more manageable percentage. Parents were not expected to bring their work home with them. Second graders did not have hours of homework and extracurriculars for college weren’t being considered for 10-year-olds. The biggest difference, the world wasn’t under a microscope, you didn’t know what went on in others houses, and people were not set out to shame each other.
So, as a mom, doing the best I can, I will say it loud and clear. I am not going to apologize for my child’s screen time. There are also many benefits of this new technology at my children’s fingertips. Benefits for their education, benefits for our family, benefits that we cannot even begin to understand or measure until they are adults.
Benefit #1: An early introduction and understanding of tools that they will use their entire life. Have you seen how long it usually takes an older person to learn how to use a cell phone or send an email? I’m not saying every older person, but the vast majority don’t have an easy time learning it. It is very commonly known that when you learn something from a young age(such is very well documented with 2nd languages) that it is easier to learn.
Benefit #2: The infinite amount of educational materials available. Hundreds and hundreds of websites, apps, and videos. Find the best educational ones to show your child. Our current favorite for our 4-year-old is Blippi. My son can now tell you the name of every construction vehicle & I sure as heck didn’t have that knowledge to teach him.
Benefit #3: They are going to need to know how to use technology. My 4th grader emails her homework to her teacher. She researches for projects on the internet. She can email other students to collaborate on a project or ask questions. It is a tool they use. Even their report cards are obtained online.
Benefit #4: Parental Sanity. Some people won’t like this or agree with it. However, after going 6 months as a work-at-home mom with two children around and my husband away for the military, I thanked technology for my sanity. No, my children didn’t sit there all day every day staring at the TV or kindles or on computers but a good movie could get me 2 hours of uninterrupted work. And the mornings my son decided he is ready for the day at 4:00am, I am more than happy to let him watch an hour of educational videos while I get some sleep.
Benefit #5: Background Noise. Personally, I have found that, since my children are accustomed to a TV being on in the background at our house, it really doesn’t affect them. They will play for hours, totally ignoring the television. It is just a part of our house, no different than the dishwasher running or a bird chirping. However, when friends come over who do not have that type of environment they are the ones I find are focused on it and often want to just sit and watch TV.
Now, I am not an expert. I am just a mom, doing the best I can. These are just my opinions, and I feel strongly about them, and I am not ashamed. I also do not care one bit if you don’t own any electronics or let your child watch TV, because it is none of my dammed business. I will give you a pat on the back and say “way to go mom” because you are doing what you think is best for your kids and your family.