Recently, a Facebook friend posted a HuffPost article prohibiting screentime for kids until age 12. Alongside, the friend wrote, “While I’m not a father, it breaks my heart to see children in restaurants staring mindlessly at screens. I was raised to paint and draw and entertain myself with puppet shows. If I’m ever a dad, I’ll never let my kid play with an iPad.”
Thank goodness several other parents lashed out before I needed to.
I snarkily/charmingly wrote, “You’re more than welcome to come spend four straight days in a cramped apartment with my kids, eat out at a restaurant with them, all sans iPad. If you can do it, then you can be my nanny and I will worship the unplugged ground you walk on. Oops. ‘Scuse me. 2 yr old screaming to play w my phone. Gotta go..”
I think screen time limits of 30 minutes are a good idea. But does my kid sometimes spend 60 minutes watching homemade youtube videos of THOMAS THE TRAIN? Absolutely.
Do I think I’ve derailed his future imagination?
Do I think he will entertain himself with puppet shows in coming years?
Dear Lord, let it be when I’m not around.
Every generation thinks the latest innovation signals the death knell of childhood imagination: Barney, Mortal Kombat, Real Houswives of Atlanta.
Maybe so. But we’re still here.
Ain’t it funny how the “perfect” parents are those who don’t yet have banana fingerprints marring their iPad screens? While they’re busy judging haggard parents, I hope they indulge in a nap and enjoy a leisurely dinner at Babbo for me.
Having calmed my reactive rage, here’s a re-written response to my fb friend:
Dude, you probably should have stopped at “While I’m not a father…”
Don’t forget sensationalist articles are like 24-hour news segments causing reactionary fear. Fear is sexy and internet traffic.
How about this much lengthier study of child screentime in THE ATLANTIC? In short, it says, ‘everything in moderation.’
I know. Moderation is so unsexy.
I find screen prohibition unnecessary and perhaps detrimental for the touch-screen generation. Why not cultivate technological wizzes?
I also know that a happy parent translates to a happy child. Thirty minutes of quiet time thanks to my cheapest babysitter, Elmo, works wonders for my happiness. Thirty minutes matching letters to their outlines, counting ladybugs or watching THOMAS THE TRAIN makes me a happier (and better) father all while engaging and educating my kiddo.
Before becoming a parent, I made categorical predictions: ‘No sugar, no TV, no disposable diapers.’ Now? I think teaching my kids limits is more effective than deprivation. (Cloth diapers were a straw that broke my sleep-deprived back. “Seventh Generation” diapers are my compromise.) I’m just trying to cope the best I can. Please don’t take away the iPad.