Screen time. The debate that will always be around. Many against. Many for.
I’ve never had an issue with it myself. I watched TV growing up (we didn't really have computers til i was about 12? 13?... showing my age). And tablets were a dream of tech companies at that time. But like it or not, screens are everywhere and everything to some people. Kids are being taught coding (ZZZzzz) in schools these days! A lot of our jobs as adults revolve around a screen. So managing screen time for kids is, rightly so, a huge thing to think about.
Let me tell you why i don‘t really have an issue with it.
I am writing this because my son, now three and a half, is a little obsessed with using the iPad. He has never been fussed with it before now. But suddenly, overnight, he see’s it as this shimmery, shiny tool that lets him watch videos on YouTube Kids (the child friendly version of YouTube). He is a very active child, from the minute he wakes up to the minute he’s in bed, he is always on the go. At nursery all the children spend most of their time outdoors. Outside of nursery we’re usually at home playing with toys, in the garden, visiting friends or at some farm park or another. Basically, he is not tied to the screen.
But my god... has it come in handy this month. We have an early riser. Anywhere between 4am-5:30am. It’s killing us. So there have been a fair few mornings (usually the 4am ones) where the iPad has been doing the parenting. Does that make me a bad dad?
I do suffer from dad guilt every now and then. When i am busy in the kitchen and he’s calling for me to play with him in the living room... it's hard. And i have dropped everything before now. But i know he also needs to learn to play alone and use that imagination of his... and when i spot him happily playing, my heart does melt a little bit. So i don't feel as bad about not smothering him every minute of every day.
And it’s not like he’s watching meaningless cartoons on the tablet (but he will sit for a few episodes of Bing or Teletubbies too). On the iPad he’s really into watching a few things. The biggest thing is kids blowing out their birthday candles. He is mad about that! But he’s also found a new obsession in videos aimed at helping kids learn colours. Which i am all for. And no word of a lie, in the couple of weeks he’s been watching these videos, he has nailed his colours. He knows them, i cannot believe it. Some might say i should be the one pouring different coloured liquids/sweeties into bowls and teaching him. And we do do a lot of creative learning/play at home. But being 'that parent' around the clock? It's a tough job. And he loses interest quick. These videos seem to keep him focused. Maybe because it's another little boy doing the counting and reciting colours? I don't know... but i know he’s learning from it.
I can honestly say i do prefer him being outdoors. Playing in the sand, snapping twigs, kicking a football, running around like a loon... there's something so satisfying about these summer months getting home from work and seeing him running around naked in the garden with a 'wally' (lolly to you and i) in his hands. I will always prefer coming home to that than seeing him laying on the sofa using the iPad for sure.
But like everything, i think moderation is key. There is a time and place for the tablet and as long as he's getting more fresh air than i do stuck at my desk all day and he is flicking through his books, sticking stickers, running outside... then the odd hour or so on the tablet isn't going to do any harm in my eyes.
What do you think? Do you allow screen time or are you totally against it?