Last week, I wrote about encouraging my kids to veer away from screens (TV, iPad, iPhone) and explore other activities, such as painting, crafts, dance and music.
It’s amazing what one week of moderated screen time can do! I’ve encountered little tantrum-throwing, the minis can pay attention to one activity for longer periods of time, they’ve learned to share (they used to fight a lot over toys), they are also very good at pretend play with the simplest of props like a cardboard box turned to a castle or a bath towel turned into a magic carpet — the minis are generally happy. And happy minis = one very happy mommy (and daddy, of course)!
Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.
You can read more about this at the American Academy of Pediatrics website.
I know what you’re thinking: “But the only way I can get my kid to sit still is by turning on the tv!” or “But to get my child to stay in one place in a mall is by letting her play with the iPad!” I had the same reasons when I first thought about limiting screen time… and it was hard — extremely challenging — when we started to implement it. But, after reading a lot of resources about the effects of screen time on children (many thanks to Amy Jussel of ShapingYouth.org for emailing a couple of links for our reference), A and I decided that we really just have to go through the difficult transitional phase from screen sitting to real play. You know, the kind that requires the minis to move around, explore and make their imagination work.
It has only been a little over a week since we started, but like I said, the minis are now much less dependent on screens for entertainment. Just this morning, I turned on the iPad to check my inbox and they didn’t swarm towards me to get their hands on it! The Princess just went on playing with a towel that she uses as a robe in her pretend-princess game while The Little Man was immersed in trying to figure out how a yoyo works.
This is a huge milestone because if you read my previous post about limiting screen time, I was having a hard time getting our boy to play with real toys. Good news: He is finally done relying on the tv for entertainment! *confetti* He loves his trucks and the yoyo we got as a party favor. He especially loves listening to me play the guitar while my little girl enjoys listening to me play the violin. She’s my number one fan! She gives me a standing ovation all the time with a matching “Bravo!” PS: I’d like to thank A for having my violin’s strings replaced. He truly knows what makes me happy!
So yes, this media management at home thing is pretty awesome. Commercial-free childhood sounds nice, huh? It actually goes well with my other mission, which is to slowly remove processed food from my family’s system. Of course, with all these changes going on, I had to sacrifice a bit of my time that I used to put into work and house chores to be with the minis while they explore and learn new things through first-hand experiences — not through tv or apps. But with proper time management and discipline, I can still get things done.
Give it a try, too! You’ll be surprised at how attentive, creative and independent will be after a few days of managed screen time!