Screen time? I’m so guilty of using the TV or tablet as my non-charging babysitter when I need to get something done – or if I’m all entertained out and just want twenty minutes peace, I quickly reach for the TV controller or for guaranteed silence I’ll pass Sofia the tablet and let her lose herself in watching American kids changing dolls ‘diapers’ or opening LOL surprise eggs.
I only realised how much I let her watch it when we were shopping recently and she picked up a bag and in the mirror she said (I kid you not) “So guys, if you like this pink unicorn bag, just hit the box there and leave your comments below” in an American accent, with pointy fingers and as much sass as the whole of Little Mix.
As well as this new found Yankee twang, we also noticed she was starting to wake up earlier and the first question she would ask was always ‘can I watch YouTube’ and at first we would let her so we could roll over and get a bit more shut eye.
And it would seem I’m not in the minority, 31% of parents admitted to giving a bored child a digital device to keep them occupied. I’m actually surprised it’s not a higher percentage, maybe those 69% of parents are just lying…right?! Further research, conducted by BIC® as part of its Young Artist Award, shows that kids complain about being bored 122 times a month – that must be an average because Sofia tells me about that many times per day.
The topic of how much screen time is too much, has mixed views, so a couple of months ago, we banished the tablet in the morning and evenings and introduced a marble jar for rewarding good behaviour. I also did a mad dash to Home Bargains to stock up on bags of craft items; I returned home with card, paper, stickers, pens, pom poms and as many feathers as you could shake a stick at – we figured if we had days at home, we wouldn’t turn the TV on but set up a craft station to keep her occupied.
Having just started school, Sofia is loving the computer that they’re allowed to access themselves in the classroom, but equally she’s now just as enthusiastic about writing and drawing. She’s been coming home and making cards for her friends to take in the next day and she’s so keen to learn to spell her new friend’s names, so we’ve spent more time with the TV off and the pens and paper out.
Dr Martin Stephens remarks ‘creativity can be encouraged via digital games but it’s important that we continue to develop core skills such as drawing and writing as it’s been proven that these skills aid creativity and imagination‘
We still have the TV on for wind down time or if we’ve been out all day and we want them to stop running around like nutcases, but the tablet usage has decreased, the early wake ups have stopped and the tantrums over the phones have pretty much diminished.
We’re hoping the new found enthusiasm for drawing and writing continues – she certainly has a wide imagination and seeing her thoughts down on paper let’s us have an insight into them too!
Do you rely on the screen as a babysitter? What activities do you do with your children to alleviate boredom?