In this ever growing technology driven world we live in, the debate on screen time is more prevalent now than ever before. Whether it be TV, smartphones or tablets how do we balance screen time as parents?
We’re big fans of technology in our house and use it every single day. Our teenage daughters have iPhones and iPads, as do we and Corben also has an iPad as well as being a typical 5-year-old boss of the TV screen.
We love technology and embrace all things new. Our entire job is based around technology and we use it every single day for an array of purposes. We also value imaginative play and encourage outdoor play and actual engagement with each other, face to face conversations, something that’s quickly becoming a dying skill in today’s world.
For us it’s all about balance, as is everything. Giving your children chocolate is fine, as long as it’s not all you give them. Drinking fizzy drinks is OK in moderation. Almost everything we do whether we’re children or adults is all about balance and moderation.
We hear often online that too much iPad time is damaging for kids and there’s plenty of parents still swerving the introduction of technology to their children in favour of the old ‘they need to get out and play with sticks’ attitude. That’s all well and good but when they’re 18 and looking for work in this modern age, not knowing how to swipe right is going to hinder them.
Here’s our 3 reasons screen time is important for children.
KIDS NEED TO CHILL OUT AND RELAX JUST LIKE ADULTS
Think about how you chill out and spend your evening, how do you use your downtime? Well, many of our friends and the people I see online are usually discussing the latest TV show or their favourite Netflix series. Why should kids be any different? There’s nothing wrong with children having an hour or two watching their favourite YouTube channels or CBeebies shows, I mean granted many of them are dreadful but it’s important for them to watch what they enjoy.
We look forward to watching our favourite Netflix shows in an evening after the kids are in bed and we’ve finished working, I don’t see why kids can’t have that same anticipation and enjoyment too. This can also help monitor how much time they’re spending on their devices. If you know their favourite YouTuber creates videos of a certain length, it could be a good idea to let your kids know they can watch X amount of videos after tea for example before the night time routine starts. It gives them something to look forward to and sets boundaries for screen time.
We home educate and the amount of useful material we find via YouTube and other online/device apps is incredible. I would go as far to say that without technology, iPads, tablets and computers etc we wouldn’t be able to home educate. Having devices in the house with certain apps on and go to websites bookmarked is massively helpful.
I’ve created an entirely new career for myself based on only internet learning. I didn’t know what a blog was 2 and a half years ago, I’d never filmed or edited a video and I’d never even used half the social media platforms that are available now. I’ve self-taught everything I know now all with the use of my phone and laptop.
Children aren’t any different, they can learn so much by watching YouTube videos and completing activities on learning apps. If you want to know and/or learn anything, where do you look? Internet.
GETTING THEM READY FOR THE FUTURE
I briefly touched on this above. Playing outdoors and running around with sticks is fabulous, it’s a huge part of growing up, however it needs to be balanced with screen time. It’s lovely to reminisce of when we had to go round to our friends houses and ‘call’ for them, how we used to bugger off to the park all day to play football and come home only if we were hungry or it was getting dark and you had to be home before the street lights came on.
GET OVER IT, THOSE DAYS ARE GONE.
I cringe at Snapchat filters, trout pouts and those f-in dog ears, but this is the world we live in now, young people are making serious money mastering the art of Instagram Stories for example! You don’t have to like it but if you don’t accept it you will get left behind, so will your children.
Technology is everywhere we go, we signed Corben up for a class the other week, they use an iPad instead of a form. You go into shops and people are paying with their phones and watches, hell I paid for my shopping in Co-op with my FACE the other day, my actual face! (And my phone, FACE ID for iPhone X)
I can’t stress how important it is for us to introduce technology to our children at an age you best feel comfortable with, but don’t leave it too late. We’re not saying throw your 1 year old an iPad and let them have at it on Twitter. Obviously use common sense and learn to understand the technology yourself, that will put you in the best position to keep your children safe. There’s so much you can do and learn with technology, that’s years before children move into the social media stage.
It’s important we prepare our children for the world they’re growing up in, not the world we wish they had.