Attention parents: I realize you are already inundated with articles via web or books on how you are not cutting it as a parent and are most definitely doing something that is having a negative impact on your little darling, but you might as well know about the latest on the ‘no TV til your kid is at least two’ study.
This article has been popping up on my Facebook news feed at least twice each of the last week running. Overall, I’ll give it this: it does reflect a considerable amount of deliberation and credible sources.
The thing with studies though – they don’t always consider this key factor called reality.
I give you my own life experience as an example.
My second son was born when my first son was only 16 months old. The day came quickly when my baby didn’t just sleep all day and needed two good solid naps or at least one long one and a couple short ones – for everyone’s well being.
I would get down on my knees to get my older kid engaged with his cars or bring out some Play dough, anything to keep him busy so that I could I spend 10 to 20 minutes getting my baby to sleep (because heaven forbid I be one of those mothers who let’s their child cry himself to sleep). Trouble is, every time, he would join me in the bedroom after two minutes if not earlier and commence the whine for me to join him.
So tell me, what do you do in this situation? Your fellow is just too little to be thrown outside in the sandbox unattended; you could put him in a room and shut the door but you feel rather cruel listening to his screams or you could plunk him down with the the attractive glow radiating from the little foxes, turtles and bears running about in the screen.
You see? If you leave him outside alone, he could come to harm; if you lock him in a room, you could frighten the little guy and loose a bit of trust or you could go for option c and get that baby of yours into a sweet slumber and even have a few minutes to spare and sip your coffee while toddler man finishes Franklin (which he could have very well be watching on a handheld device).
I’m not for using the TV or any handheld devices as a substitute for my child’s development and amusement. Rowan’s article and references to the destructive nature of TV and handheld devices are always accompanied by the word “overuse.”
Yes, of course there is a problem when children are neglected by their parents and fail to develop creative play skills because they are accustomed to vegetating in front of the boob tube. Yes their sleep can be affected and their physical and mental disposition. And if we are going to worry about the carcinogens and radiation emissions from them sitting in front of the TV, we better get rid our WiFi modem, our microwaves, our cell phones and our beloved tablets because they’re getting a daily dose from all of those too. What next, tap water?
And tell me, how does one expect a ban on these devices to be enforced? Really, I’m failing to see how this will work. Sure, schools can ban them, stores can refuse to sell devices to kids but what’s stopping selling to people with kids? That would be rather discriminatory. In essence, we would have to resort to ticketing parents if they were caught allowing their child to use one of these devices. What does this say about our attitude towards parents? I am not a responsible parent because I let my almost two year old watch a very subdued show that depicts a happy, healthy family unit and a respectful and caring little turtle? I should be fined for violating proposed ban?
Do you see what’s crazy now?
The answer is not a ban.
Do parents need to be more involved and care more about how much and what their child is viewing via screen technology? Absolutely, that is indisputable. All you got to do is watch one episode of Caillou to be convinced of that.
Technology is here to stay. We, as parents, can keep it a bay in our own homes should we feel that is needed but there’s no escaping it altogether. All my son has to do is go to his buddy’s house one day and be mesmerized by the glorious action playing out on a tablet or what-have-you for his sedentary enjoyment. And if I thought I was doing him a favour by keeping it from him altogether, my bubble is about to be burst as soon as he turns 12 or when he moves in to Jimmy’s house after school.
We are an evolving species. Unless we experience some cataclysmic event and a technological collapse, we are better to leave parents equipped with the tools and knowledge to educate their children on proper use of handheld devices and the like. We’ve managed to change the face of cigarette smoking with a fierce propaganda campaign. Let’s see what we can do with psychological influence on the potentially damaging consequences of too much screen time.