Before we go on, I just want to clarify that screens are a tool. They may be used for educational purposes in some families, a way to communicate for some (AAC devices), or a bonding experience during family movie night for others. They may also be avoided by some families, maybe even yours. This isn’t a post to encourage you to change your mind, just sharing what we do and how we make it work. As always, do what is best for you and yours.
Prior to children, Hubby and I decided that we would try to avoid screen time, for our children, until they were two years old or so. While we had a Friday movie night with T, I saw the negative impact screens, in general, had on him and how addictive they were, not only for him but for us. This was something we decided to wait as long as possible with the girls.
With Covid, we made adjustments to our screentime agreement so that E and V were able to facetime with family and select friends since we were unable to see them in person. We did, however, limit the amount of time and quantity.
Recently both girls came down with a fever and just felt pretty lousy. While I had never seen Mister Rodger’s Neighborhood I have heard nothing but good things and upon watching a clip decided that this would be an appropriate show to encourage E and V to rest (such a lovely show!). But how to go about without it having a negative impact?
-Slow and quiet programing. Mister Rodger’s Neighborhood and wildlife documentaries seem to fit this requirement well.
-Watch together. Yes, I stepped away to grab them a drink here or there, but me watching along ensures that the values we adhere to aren’t being disregarded and that I’m privy to certain things that may need greater explaining. Necessary exmplinations could be as simple as ‘he called them underpants and we call them undies’ or more complex as to why the lion is stalking the boar and age approriate explinations to the food chain.
-Pause for discussion. Similar to the explination examples we can talk about what we are seeing and such soo that we just aren’t passivly watching something. “How lovely that he takes off his outdoor shoes to keep the flooring clear.” “That person was going to remove those tents without asking first! How would that make you feel?” “Yes, I see how they look like sharks; sharks ARE fish, these fish are known as Anglefish. LEt me grab the book that has differnt fish, Look at how well he is caring for his fish. Would you like to visit an aquarim and watch the fish swim?” And so much more.
-Break for movement, books, and activities. We aren’t talking normal activities and these aren’t much. Rather just walking to the restroom or even a gentle activity like taking a bath–just so that the whole day isn’t blah and feels somehwat normal, perhaps even feeling better–like after the bath. If able, we try to eat at the tables and such, too. After roughly an hour of Mister Rodgers I try to spend time, at least half an hour, doing something away from the screen. Surprisingly the bath was not enjoyed as it normally is, so lots of reading (thankfully I had a ton of new library books ready to go).
Part of the reason for the “rules” above is to prevent the screen from becoming the norm. While I’m sure there will be a request for Mister Rodgers or sharks, we prefer to reserve them for times of illness–so hopefully few and far inbetween.
What are your thought of screentime, espcially during times of illness?