I never made an active decision about the screen time for our first child. When she was born many things were done/decided then and there. First time we were planning a longer summer vacation, knowing how much time we will spend with her travelling, we bought our/hers first Ipad.
She wasn’t very interested but in the very stressful situations she allowed to be entertained with children rhymes, songs and nurseries. It was ok.
As other children her age could sit for hours in front of TV if they were allowed she just wasn’t in to it and back then, silly us wanted that she was more interested. By the time we got our second child and in the transition of adopting her new sister roll, YouTube became ours and hers best friend.
That was the first time I became aware that things could be done differently and that even though it can give us very needed relief from time to time, it is not the best solution, a far from it.
When we learned all 3031th version of “Johnny, Johnny – yes papa”, and have been through clearing history on YouTube videos for 1001 times, and where she still was able to easily find children vaccination programs in China, we knew there was only one way to go.
Back then, we sent YouTube on the “holidays” aka deleting it from the tablet. She was very heartbroken but it got better in no time.
Ipad were still available, TV she still didn’t find interesting.
In Denmark we have a national TV house that we pay, in many peoples eyes very expensive yearly licence. The production they have is thereby very high quality and there is a whole TV channel called “Ramasjang”devoted to children. It is not crap TV and many things are really educational. There is also Ramasjang app. We found it less harmful and she could sit with her tablet watching/playing with different kind of programs.
Time fly by and both girls are now big (ger) and they like screen time. They are also different from each other and one can sit in front of it for many hours, the other one rarely asks for it. In revers perspective I would never introduce them to it so early and by that saying I don’t blame others doing it.
For us it was also a part of not getting insane when our youngest one woke up for more than a year before 5 a.m. It was a solution then that worked.
But we did in one period realise how time consuming it is and even worse how it takes all the time from playing, being free and creative. We could see how dumb they could be and how addicted they were. And we believed we actually were strict about it.
And then one day my partner and I look each other deep in the eyes and made the decision about cutting almost all screen time. We removed Ipads from our home and we had couple of very hard weeks on the screen rehab. As we don’t have TV subscription, programs need to be cast on the TV and as there weren’t any Ipads near by, that wasn’t an option. We had a rule in the beginning that they could watch two short programs from Ramasjang after dinnertime and they needed to communicate and agree which one that is.
At this moment it is actually more than 6 month ago we started and now we are 99% screen-free. They ask rarely, normally for a cartoon or something they can remember from before and rarely, one in a while, they do get an opportunity to see something together with us.
Yesterday I was reminded how good it turned out for us and how important it is to take an active decisioneither if you are allowing a screen-time, limiting it or totally cutting down.
The story that first now hit me is that our younger girl is very scared of the dark, ghosts and being alone. And we know for sure that no one used any of those things to scare her on purposely. Yesterday we went for a bike ride in the forest and she kept repeating: “Not in the woods, it is too dark”(it was 11 a.m.)
When I mention it to my husband, he reminded me of the Christmas calendar they seen last year and how fascinating she was with the one episode of the forest and the dark/mist that was representing the evil. She didn’t understand meaning but yet fascination was there.
Did we make mistake about screen time in the past and do we handle it properly now?
I am not sure on every single aspect but I am sure it makes damn good sense now.
And by that I don’t say it is an ultimate solution for all. It is something that it worked so well for us. We noticed how slowly the girls got more present in time, they communicate more with us and with each other and they finally PLAY. They play their own games, they are being more creative about the things they do and they are exploring all the things around them. They are much more kids than they ever were.
And that is good enough to me.
Do we have sometimes moments when we miss “freedom” of giving them screens and relax for a minute/fix something in a peace or do what every need to be done? Yes, we do, no lies there.
Are there other solutions and ways of getting it? Most certainly. We are still learning how to be (creative) parents without the screen.
How do researchers define parental monitoring:
- Co-view media with your child.
Recommendations says that parents should co-view media from 2- to 5-years of age. A research study conducted on middle-school children suggests that the positive effects of co-viewing continue as children age.
- Restrict the amount of time children spend with media.
Also separating child screen-time into categories can be helpful, since not all screen-time is equal.
- Restrict the types of content your child accesses.
- Actively discuss the meaning and effects of media content with children.
Active mediation is the step in parental monitoring that involves the most work on parents part. This includes discussing the values and behaviors you see on the screen while watching with your child.
Active Mediation also includes having conversations with your child about screens when you are not actively watching them. (From: http://www.screenfreeparenting.com/what-happens-when-parents-limit-screens/)
For more about researches about the screen time and children visit: link.