What is screen time? It is time spent using a device such as a computer, television, games console and smart devices.
This topic hits a nerve with some people. In the past it never really bothered me if and how much time my children watch television. My daughter could navigate electronic devices from when she was 14 months old. Now we have a little boy who didn’t see a mobile phone or tablet until he was 1 year old.
With all of that said, the world changed in a flash at the beginning of the year. COVID-19 spread across the globe and send people into a panic. The pandemic started and everyone had to stay home. I mean everyone! This included our children who no longer can attend school and thus had to start home schooling……whole other topic for another day.
Everyone adjusted, making it work and carried on with life indoors. I am not saying it didn’t come with it’s own challenges, but in my case the television become my, lack of a better term, “babysitter”. Don’t get me wrong, we spent gracious amount of time outdoors, as we are lucky to have a courtyard. However, summer in the UAE is not a joke and with temperatures hitting 50 degrees celsius, staying indoors is definitely more comfortable.
The trick with being indoors and not go stir crazy, is to keep busy. Keeping two little kids busy is relatively easy, as they will keep each other busy, right? WRONG!…..They do keep each other busy for a maximum of 20 minutes and then all hell breaks loose and they end up fighting. After a while they are not interested in the toys, and to be frank, as a parent I do not have the time to entertain them all the time. With no help whatsoever keeping the house functional, cooking, cleaning and homeschooling, the easy way out is to pop them in front of the television. Honestly, this easy way out has become standard routine. My children want to watch television all the time now.
After my daughter manages to get her school activities done online, I feel that screen free play time is a good reward. But she has become lazy! My super busy son, has become lazy! With little movement, I realized they are eating less and their water consumption has come down too. Their moods fluctuate more often. Unfortunately, I have also been struggling to get them to fall asleep in the evenings.
Then I started to do a bit of research on screen time and the impact it has on small children. What I have found is very informative and I discovered why the behavior changes are happening. So I decided to share my findings with my readers. My idea is not to push anyone’s buttons or make any parent feel guilty by any means. I just want to inform and politely educate parents out there.
MY KIDS ARE LAZY!
Screen time has made my children lazy and lack of movement really does have a negative impact on them, as I have noticed myself. The World Health Organization has set out new guidelines on physical activity. Visit their website to see what they recommend for children under the age of 5 years.
SHOULD MY SON BE TALKING?
I continued my research and realized that screen time has a negative impact on brain development. Whoa! Hang on a minute, brain development? Now we are getting into some serious stuff. I know that babies learn through touch, smell, sight and interacting with mommy, daddy and siblings. I also know that it helps your child develop social, language and motor skills. What I didn’t know is that watching too much television before 18 months, actually harms brain development. Healthychildren.org explains why to avoid television.
There is an abundance amount of research out there on why children should not watch any or too much television. Just for good measure I have included one more page here for you to read, listing a research roundup of the health effects of screen time.
Last but definitely not least, below is an informal interview with Lisa Sherrington-Boyd where she talks about screen time. This video serenaded with me and makes me feel so much better about popping my kids in front of the television. Video length is 42 minutes, but worth the watch.
Just know that as parents, you are doing your best in your current situation. Do what works for you, as I am. In the words of Sue Atkins – “There is no such thing as a perfect parent. So just be a real one”