Simply Parenting: Thoughts on Screen Time
Is there a balance, and what does it look like?
Like most kids of my generation, I grew up with a television and a computer. I had favorite shows I watched everyday after school and computer games I played (usually educational) on a regular basis. I liked having access to screens as a kid, but, today, my husband and I don’t have a TV. We’ve actually never owned one as a married couple, and we’ve done that intentionally. We still have our computers and our phones, though.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with screens. I’ve never really seen the internet as evil. I think that computers and television and the internet are wonderful ways of connecting with the world. The internet especially has given my generation amazing opportunities that we wouldn’t have had otherwise, so I feel like as a parent, it’s important to teach my children this, while still helping guide them into a healthy balance. As a stay-at-home mom, I feel that it’s important for me and my children to both be aware of this balance.
When I became pregnant with my first child, I began following mom blogs. One I remember in particular talked about the struggle parents have with phones at home, expressing that many parents have a rule that when they’re around their kids they try to never be on their phones or at least drastically limit phone usage. Naturally, I still find myself grabbing my phone often, but it’s something I’m conscience of more and more. Having a rule to be conscience of helps me stay present with my children.
I want my kids to be okay with boredom. This is why I think monitoring screen time is important. I don’t want my kids to become addicted to screens any more than I want to be addicted to them, but I do think that as they are such a part of our culture, there’s something to be learned in using them. I wouldn’t say that my kids watch shows often, but probably they watch something at least once a day.
My daughter didn’t start watching shows until after my son was born. He still doesn’t really watch much of anything, yet. With my daughter, one show a day became a strategy for me to employ when my son needed my full attention, especially at nap time. I hand pick everything she watches, usually normal-paced, artistic, and not strictly educational shows like Sarah and Duck, Clifford, or Stella and Sam. I avoid loud flashy shows for many reasons. I’ll also watch YouTube videos with my kids sometimes.
I like knowing that my kids are growing up with platforms like YouTube, which, when monitored, can be such a great place to learn about so many different things. When we watch YouTube videos together, my kids meet real families who live in buses, couples who live on boats, young entrepreneurs who travel and make video blogs for a living, and the coolest thing about YouTube and every social media platform, now, is the opportunity that we have to connect with these creators in person through live Q&As or videos and meet-ups. One day, this could be a really fun thing for my children to experience.
I want to emphasize again that from my personal perspective the internet is a great place to connect with people, but I also recognize that it can be a dangerous place. I hope that by sharing the internet with my children, and showing them how to properly connect with people there, exposing them while they are young to platforms like YouTube, hand picking our channels and watching them with them, they’ll learn the joys of connecting with creative people online and become more intelligent online citizens in the future.
So, how is this simple? Well, like I said, I think screens can be great learning platforms, and the simple part is more that I can recognize this and approach screen time in an intentional way. They’re learning that the internet is a not bad or solely a platform for consumer culture, but is an important part of their world and great way to connect with people. The cartoons my children watch feel artistic and simple to me, and I think that my child can learn valuable lessons from them. Also, when using the internet together, I think that my children are becoming responsible online citizens.
Then, personally, I try to be as present as possible with my children and set a good example for them by limiting my phone usage around them. For sure, I fail at this often and none of these things I’ve expressed are hard and fast rules for me, but I’m learning many things as I go along. It does feel simple and organic, and I think there’s a balance to screen time.
What do you think? I’m a young mother, so if you have older children, how do you balance screen time and school? If your child shows signs of being addicted to screen time, how do you remedy that? We’d love to hear from you.
YouTube channels to watch with your kids:
The Bucket List Family: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuAHfJyWROB4XRReS43EWUw
Knorpp and South: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG2c4aUF3EoLwskydOBrrUw
Justin Rhodes: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOSGEokQQcdAVFuL_Aq8dlg