There has been this long drawn debate on what’s advisable for children in terms of screen time. Many parents are dead against it & have successfully managed to keep their kids away from screens of any sort. The larger percentage of the parenting population has not been that successful or hasn’t let go of the one thing that can give them some sane moments in a day.
*warning* If you are the ‘What nonsense, no child needs screen time!’ kind of person, do not read further.
A couple of months back, a good friend had shared an article about how screen time is unavoidable. Their analogy was simple : The caveman needed to understand stones to be a master of his time; children of today need technology similarly. It is true! Technology is the ‘Brahmastra of this generation’, how do you expect children to be away from it? There are gadgets all around them. Laptops, iPads, Mobiles, Smart TVs, VR Headsets and more. It WILL pique their curiosity and they WILL want to ‘ape’ their parents, head into mobile phone all day long. I am guilty as charged. I am constantly walking phone in hand. I can brush it off saying ‘but my work demands it’, but that’s not the truth. We parents are pretty stuck to the phone. God save us. Too late for that thought. But what can we do for the current generation? Cruise control. Don’t go auto pilot, don’t go manual.
It was about 5 months back when a bunch of friends had come home and one kid was not too settled. The mom said, ‘Can you put this on YouTube? It will bring calm’ and it did! Problem was that it also brought along an ‘addiction’ like no other. My son was hooked onto ‘Ooh-ti-tube’. He watched it everyday, every time the TV was switched on. It graduated from nursery rhymes to ‘Daddy Finger’ to Play Doh videos to (currently) random people painting their hands & opening Kinder Surprise eggs. I found it appalling and every bit annoying, but I did see something. He was actively picking up stuff from the screen. Colors, animals, alphabets. I am not saying ‘Hurray, he’s learning’, but the kind of stuff that he watches kind of also gets something into his head. WARNING! More the reason for me to monitor what he watches, including accents of these videos. He was suddenly saying Apple with a HEAVY British accent and I almost choked. Some rewind and search later, we found videos that are Indian enough for us to accept. Hello, I wouldn’t want my son, who hasn’t crossed the National border, to talk Brit without even knowing what it is! Sorry!
There’s the thing about ‘engage him no’. Yes, I do. He plays with colors, animals, puzzles and water too 😛 But there are times when he wants to do some ‘sit down’ stuff. When he’s just relaxing between high energy moments & I am okay with it. As long as the stuff is sensible, yes. I stopped restricting screen time forcefully ( a concept under alternative schooling) and I see a change. Now, it’s only about 45 minutes in the whole day. We are weaning ‘Ooh-ti-tube’ and moving to Arty stuff and some Baby TV. That’s where we are.
I have seen kids of friends who have been iPad addicted at the age of 3 and now, at about 5-7 years of age, they are doing role play games and riding cycles like kids of their age would do. So, I know there’s hope! I know Lishaan will move on. I know it will be a thing of the past for him and I ALSO know that by then he will pick up stuff like I did as a kid. Dexter & his laboratory, Johnny Quest and so on. But there’s time and in that time, we will find a way to make technology a part of our lives and not just EVERYTHING in life.
Any instrument, when sensibly used will make a whole world of difference. It’s up to us parents to find that thin red line & hit the brake before it is too late!!