As parents, we are always concerned about how much time our kids spend on the phones and tablets or watching the television. A few days back, I came across this TED talk addressing the fears of parents regarding screen time for their kids. I was amazed as the speaker pointed out so many useful things that can be done using digital media. I tried them out on my 4 year old son, who is extremely fond of my phone.
When our kids are engrossed watching their favourite stuff or playing some game on the phone, we often wonder that when will they go out and play and what about their physical exercise? My son is very fond of ‘fireman Sam and his adventures.’ So, one day I decided to ask him to role play his favourite character. And that’s exactly what he did! He went around the whole house, running and jumping, pretending to extinguish the imaginary fire in his imaginary fire brigade! And he still loves doing it. Some days, he also mimics ‘peppa pig’ and goes from one room to another playing different games.
Another very nice thing that he’s learnt from his screen time is the use of new words and his vocabulary has improved a lot. Just a few days back he told me, “Excuse me, I want to ride my bicycle. Can you sit somewhere else?” I was fascinated by his use of the word ‘excuse me’. So I asked him, “Where did you learn that?” He replied, “Mom, Grandpa pig was telling Peppa pig in the garden.” I made sure to reinforce what he’s learnt from time to time.
On another day, when I had taken him to the park, instead of running to the slides and swings, he went to see what the crows were eating. Of course he wasn’t very discreet and the bird flew away before he could actually see anything, but I asked him what he wanted to see. He told me that he had seen on my phone about crows and that they eat dirty food. So he wanted to check the same. I was surprised and actually quite proud of him that day, because the least likely thing to happen when you take your kid to the park is that they run to see what the birds are doing!
And I had learnt one very important thing as well. Talk to your kid about what he is watching and what he is playing. Interaction is very important. Otherwise the whole point of allowing screen time would be meaningless.
So yesterday, when I asked him what he was doing on my phone, he got very excited and told me that he was playing his ‘car wash’ game and then he went on to describe in details what he did and how he did it. This exercise made him more confident in recollecting his thoughts and speaking.
The key lies in talking. We need to talk to them and show interest in what they do in their screen time and not just merely hand them the phone and then forget about it. We live in a digital world. And when we use our phones for every single thing, we cannot deprive our kids from the same.
It is high time that we focus on the positive impacts that the digital media can bring instead of focusing on how to hide our phones from our kids. We should definitely harness the potential of digital media for the growth and progress of our kids. It is upto us to teach them how and why to use the phone.
P.S: I give 60 to 90 minutes of screen time to my son. Though everyone may not agree to it, but I have tried my best to do something good with the screen time for my kid and it’s definitely working for him!
Author’s note : This post first appeared on mycity4kids parenting platform.
Pic courtesy : Google images