I know, I know – the unpopular opinion that doesn’t really put you into the Perfect mom basket. Now, I’m completely aware of the health recommendation that no screen time should be allowed for kids under two, and there are many facts that support it. I’m not completely against this, in a way that small kids should learn the value of entertaining themselves and socializing outside of the screen. They should be taken outside often, talked to, played with… I get all of that and I support all of that.
It’s year 2020.
We’re living our lives attached to technology, and there’s little value to our “no screen” rules when we find ourselves spending many hours per day looking at one. Whether it’s our job, our free “phone time”, or both, it matters very little if you’re concerned about health issues. To your body, it’s all the same. I think you, too, will agree that many jobs today cannot be done without looking at a screen for at least an amount of time.
And guess what? Your child is going to grow up in that world.
Your child is one day going to be looking for a job, too, in that world.
Instead of being hypocrites and trying to implement values we don’t respect or believe in, just so we could be considered perfect parents in front of our families (and social media), I believe it’s better to have boundaries. By fighting the rules this world operates by, we are denying our children the ability to adapt to it.
I won’t try to convince the whole world they should allow screen time for their children. It’s an individual choice and, regardless of everything I’ve said so far, I respect everyone’s choices. Instead, I’ll get into why it works for our family, because that’s the only thing I am realistically an expert about!
We’re planning to move to an English-speaking country.
By allowing an amount of screen time (songs and short cartoons in English language that are educational in some way), we’re introducing our son to English language. We could speak English in front of him all day long, but we believe it’s equally important for him to learn Serbian, and that’s what we’re working on at the moment. Nursery rhymes in English are a great way for him to develop the feeling for a foreign language at a young age!
Screen time in our home does not equal TV time.
In our home, the amount of TV time we all have is – zero. In fact, we don’t own a TV and we don’t watch TV channels over the Internet. We are in complete control over the content that is served to us – it’s a planned, ad-free, educational content that we want to have access to. There is no need to worry about the TV influence, since we’re the ones choosing content for all of us. At least for now.
Quality content is important.
As previously mentioned, we care about the type of content we expose our son to. We will only let him watch things we believe are age-appropriate and understandable. It’s not our goal to let him watch fast-paced cartoons his brain can’t even process, just to keep him occupied.
By allowing it, we create less urge to watch it.
If we were to ban it completely, it would result in the urge to watch it wherever, and whenever, later on. By allowing it for a certain amount of time and not making a big deal of it, it becomes “normal” to be exposed to it sometimes, which removes the urge to rebel and watch whatever, just because it’s on the screen.
We don’t like lying to our son.
We watch a lot of TV shows, tutorials, educational content and movies. We are not planning on tricking our son into thinking that we don’t do it (and then hide doing it while he is asleep) – he will, at some point, see through it. Even worse, we don’t want him thinking we are privileged in a way that he isn’t.
We provide all the other content and activities required for a normal routine.
We still go outside, read books, see our friends, talk to our son, play with him, interact, teach him things he doesn’t see in a cartoon. We are doing our job as parents and we are not blaming his behavior on occasional screen time. Also, we don’t allow it during meals, naps, bath time and other important routines.
He will grow up in this world, anyway.
We are trying to teach him how to find his way in it. He will learn how to be in control of his urges and desires, by us letting him have some sort of choice. If we ban screen time completely, he will find a way to have a lot more of it later on, while we’re not around. This is our way of teaching him that it’s okay sometimes, but also how to choose good content.
We’re not perfect. Our boy is on the verge of learning how to walk. In order to keep up, yes, we need energy, too. We allow a few minutes of screen time while he sits on the floor and plays independently, while occasionally looking at a cartoon, so we can have a few bites of food. When I come home from grocery shopping, I will let him watch a cartoon for a bit, so I can unload the groceries and put them in the fridge without him being under my feet at all times. It’s called management.
What’s your opinion on screen time? Do you allow it for your kids?
Let me know in the comments!