There’s been a lot in the news recently about screen-time and children. First the American Academy of Pediatrics urged parents to turn off the TV, especially for children under 2. And then, a New York Times article noted that “screen time” for children is higher than ever before.
What do I think about all this?
I use the TV to distract my 11-month-old son, Zeke, so I can cut his nails. Another friend watches the “baby sign” videos with her 15-month-old and he really signs a lot of things, so how could it have “no benefit?” I think we probably aren’t the group that pediatricians are concerned about. But what I did find interesting is the point about TV as background noise and in houses where it’s on all day, you are not talking as much, obviously crucial with an “under-2” in the house.
The second article, I think, should be more troubling to my demographic: educated, upwardly mobile ivy league types who, to borrow a phrase made up by my advertising friend, have a very high SSQ (self satisfied quotient). Oh, we all think we’re such model parents because our children don’t watch television (God forbid!) but we are tapping away on the iPad and so are they.
I try to keep my iPhone away from Zeke, I don’t show him the screen, and we have dodged grandparent requests for Skype appointments (come visit instead), but he sees me on the computer throughout the day. He sees me tapping away on the iPhone, and let’s be honest: I’m doing it while I’m feeding him, while I’m pushing him in the swing, while I’m walking him down the street. When he was a new-newborn, I used to check my email while nursing. My husband said to me once, “On some level he knows you’re not paying him full attention.” It’s true. And children model our behavior, so what am I teaching him by tap, tapping away when I should be living life?
Your turn. Plug in and weigh in!