Screen Time – The Digital Dummy Of Our Children

November 6, 2019

 

Screens and phones! everywhere I seem to look there is someone on a phone, looking at a phone and what I find is that children even small children are absorbed into the blue screen magic. Since when did we ever get to be attached to them? 

I was inspired to write something about the use of phones / screens as I was came across an article in the local paper. The article was based around screen-time in children, featuring some shocking statics and also some basic ideas on what other activities to do. I just couldn’t help but think how it is  affecting the lifestyles of many busy families these days. 

Firstly here are some shocking statistics:

the AIHW found that 75% of children aged 2-5 exceed the time frame for screen time or sedentary activities. This is no more than 60 minutes of secondary screen time per day. (AIHW 2018) 

One I recently found shocking is the children around the age one are watching approximately an hour of screen time a day! firstly, how does a little person have the ability to sit there and watch that. They are absolutely fixated on it. 

Have a read of the article here: https://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2019/07/screen-time-no-child’s-play

Yes, so when I see your small child around the age of 18 months and under  in a pram / trolley with a phone I am probably judging you, but let’s face it your probably judging me and my unruly curly haired children. Since when did this happen? Yes its great to have them so absorbed into something so we can get basic tasks done, such as shopping. I always take time to reflect, do I need to keep my children distracted for myself or for everyone else’s shopping experience. 

Rather than using the phone to absorb your small child so you can get the task done, why not just include them! Personally I do try and let them experience and enjoy the little outings and including them the best I can. Let them take their own small bag and pick their own fruit and veg, go to a market instead of the aisles of the supermarket, fruit stores and bulk bins stores are hectic but they enjoy picking their own snacks. 

Yes, sometimes it is hard so I just go to the shops at morning tea time and eat our way around and get it done quickly. 

Earlier this year we made a no screen time during the week. As in from Sunday Night (after dinner) until Friday after school.

They kept fighting over who was watching the TV (we have an apple tv) and I had noticed that some of the YouTube content really adjusts their behaviour. So for a week we turned it off. To our surprise no one really missed it, they knew they weren’t able to watch it, so didn’t ask. Then they were actually using their imagination, playing together and doing lots of construction. They also settled better at bed time! always a plus. 

It turns out they didn’t even need a screen to be entertained! Although on the weekends who doesn’t love a binge on the TV so we do let them watch it. 

As for iPads and portable devices, they actually don’t use them. Firstly, I can’t even look after my own phone (I am currently sporting an iPhone 6 – nothing snazzy here) I do not see how a small child can look after one, and I also don’t want 3 or 4 iPads in my home – I would rather something more useful we can use like a marble maze. 

Yes, we all need a little down time somehow from our children I have found I take them out to beach or playground and they generally don’t need me as much, so I can sit in the sunshine, have a coffee and then we have a little snack together and everyone seems happier. – The washing can wait! 

Once we are home from school there is usually no TV unless we really have to! Such as I know Luke sneaks it on when I’m at work, if I was not organised enough for dinner or the day has generally been a shocker and I need to get something done then it sneaks its way on. 

I keep toys out in buckets such as duplo, trains and megablocks. There is paper, pencils and texta’s available at the end of the table. I also went tout and grabbed three whiteboards and whiteboards markers just to mix it up bit and give them some choice.  This has given them some other options without asking. 

I recently found some talking pens on marketplace/gumtree which has been a real hit! They are able to use a little book and the pen talks the words to them, they enjoy this little activity. 

After dinner we have quiet play but now that the weather is warming up we head out for a walk and enjoy the sunset. 

As us adults we should also turn our screens off! I stand at the playgrounds and see you all there with a phone in hand / back pocket. – yes i am judging you too.  

Recently Michael Leunig had a cartoon of a distracted parent with phone in hand and a child out of the pram, yes this is what we all see: a parent who is not present. 

Yes, there was a good comeback with a mother showing all the things we do not see, but we don’t see that. Yes we are busy and a little data fix helps gets through the day, but next time stop to think “do i really feel fulfilled and happy after a little data fix and scrolling through filtered and posed images on instagram?” probably not, I think the same would go for our children. 

Do we really need to be that reachable when we can enjoy moments with our children? Unless you’re on call I don’t really think we need to. I carry around a digital SLR camera to capture our moments so I don’t need to take random useless photos of the kids. 

If you’re ready for a digital detox and avoid the phone, try reading a book. It will make you realise that the kids do stop and look up at you and waiting for your interaction back, we miss these precious moments if we are too absorbed into other peoples super filtered lived on the instagram. 

Turn that screen off, put your heads up and enjoy the world and moments around you and your family, create new little adventures away from the screen time. 

References 

AIHW 2018 “How does participation in physical activity change across the life stages?” https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/070fa732-0729-4c7b-8ce6-fd7807d8facd/aihw-phe-225-infographic.pdf.aspx

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.5694/mja2.50286