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Screen time. The scourge of modern society. We’ve all seen the articles. Our children will grow up with small brains. They will be unsocialised. Our children will talk less than the previous generation. On and on the articles go!
As parents we’ve previously not limited screen time, and instead take active steps to make our children feel able to enjoy technology, without worrying that they’re going to be glued to the television or their tablets 24/7!
I’m a Mum of two, a 6 year old, and a 1 year old. As such I’ve only really got one child that is totting up many screen hours. My eldest, Daisy.
Daisy is a BIG lover of technology. Whether it is playing games on the Nintendo Switch or Xbox, learning how to draw on the iPad, watching her favourite shows on Netflix on the television or just talking with family on video calls we often have screens on when Daisy is home.
Before I continue with this post I want to share that I DO stop Daisy from accessing tablets and screens right before bed, just because I feel this helps with her natural sleep cycle, and leads to a less stressed and more relaxed bedtime.
I’m sure that this could count as limiting screen time, but it is more a rule that we don’t enjoy any devices right before bedtime (no matter who it is!).
It would be hypocritical of me to limit screen time
I work from home. Online. I’m often found with my iPhone in my hand or a MacBook on both knees. Working on the move is something I also do too, and thus I need to use screens regularly.
Whether it is checking my email, speaking to a client on the phone or dealing with a website downtime issue I’m never far from my phone. I think it would be very hypocritical of me to tell my daughter that screen time is the Devil and tell her why she can’t use it. Probably from behind my MacBook screen!
We don’t use screens outside our home (much!)
When we go on family days out we try our best to be present. I schedule downtime from work for these days, so I enjoy my children while they’re small, and the main reason for using my phone is just to document our days out with lovely photographs.
We allow Daisy to have her tablet in the car on longer journeys, to help prevent boredom, but beyond that we focus on being present (and screen free!) on days out.
Being present is something that is really important to me and I feel very grateful that my work schedule and work/life balance allows me to have this time with my family where I don’t need to be glued to my screen.
The tablet helps my daughters to learn
Daisy has learned to read with the help of her tablet. Now, while using my iPad, Daisy is able to learn how to draw very well. This helps her concentration on tasks, fine motor skills and also is a very useful and enjoyable hobby also.
Aurora has been able to start to learn letters of the alphabet, colours and shapes. This helps her with her development too and is a great way for me to get 10 minutes to prepare lunch or get a few bits done around our home.
There are so many songs available on YouTube for a variety of parenting pain points such as teeth brushing, using the potty and even dealing with awkward social encounters at school or in personal life. These are great to back up life lessons our girls experience and help them to feel confident and less alone in life.
My sanity is intact (just!) by not having a limit on screen time
Sometimes I need a break. Daisy is a very smart girl, and as such, she spends almost all of her day asking to help me with every chore I complete, or wanting to work with me if I need to get work done. I’m happy to oblige and help her learn, but sometimes I need a break.
Whether it is 5 minutes for a shower, a quick call with a client or even just a catch up with a friend I’m grateful for the tablet or the oled TV. Not having to limit screen time means that Daisy can sit on her tablet and I can enjoy a catch-up with a friend at a time that is convenient for us both.
Aurora is a little young for sitting glued to a tablet but she does love to watch a little bit of television and there are so many educational shows now, such as Ms Rachel, that also help her learn to speak correctly and give her more knowledge on colours, letters and more.
We can bond while spending time together
Recently Reliant contacted me, with some data from a study that they recently conducted.
Just like 75% of children my eldest was no different in wanting a TV in her bedroom. We recently decided that this could be a welcome addition to the girls’ bedroom during a little makeover.
While my girls don’t fall asleep watching television, unlike 45% of children, we do enjoy a little quiet time in their room together during the afternoons where we play music videos or YouTube videos while we play toys together.
The television has been a great aid to this little bonding time together. We love to find shows that both girls will enjoy mutually on Netflix and also watch people playing with the same toys as us, for a little burst of inspiration!
Also, we’ve found a LOT of great craft activities too from YouTube in particular.
I meet my children’s needs
I’m aware that some parents may let their children sit on the tablet, or watch television, to have a break, and I don’t judge this AT ALL.
One thing that I do, when I need that time to get chores done or perhaps take an urgent phone call for work purposes, is ensure that the girls have their needs met.
I will always give them a full drink, snack plate (if they’re due one) and just make sure they’re nice and comfortable.
This means I can take 10-15 minutes to complete my task, without worrying that they will need something from me.
For me I think to limit screen time would just put another unnecessary bit of pressure on myself. Some days Daisy won’t use the tablet at all. On other days she may use it for 2 or 3 hours throughout the day.
I always make sure that we spend lots of time together, enjoy crafts and lots of activities and that my girls don’t just sit like zombies all day.
It’s very easy to make judgements about other parents, or suffer from comparison syndrome, but we are all just treading water half the time and everyone deserves a little break!