A topic that I see popping up a lot in various forums, social media and the blogging world is screen time. Are you a bad mother if you let your child watch TV all day? Are you guilty of just sticking your kid in front of the TV so you can get down the piles of washing in peace? Are you the type of mother that has a strict time limit on games consoles?
I’ve never been concerned about screen time and I don’t think I ever will be. Okay, my baby is only 11 months old but he likes TV! I watch channel 5 in the mornings and Milkshake is on before The Wright Stuff and Ollie often stops what he’s doing to watch Thomas or Toby’s Travelling Circus and we both like Tickety Toc!
If he likes it, what is the harm in letting him watch it? I don’t believe in using Mr Tumble as a babysitter, if you’re just sticking the TV on while you go off down the shop or lounge around then I think that is questionable but if I am sitting watching TV with my baby, I don’t think I’m causing any long term damage.
The thing is, I don’t think most kids really want to be sitting in front of a screen all day. My nephews love their X-Box and watching Wrestling but if I invited them to the cinema, they’d jump at the chance… That’s a joke!
I have many memories of sitting on my little arse watching the Rainbow christmas Pantomime VHS on repeat, waiting patiently for it to rewind or using that time for a, “Mooommmmm! Can I have a drink?” I watched Rainbow Brite time and time again. Labyrinth, The Wizard of Oz, My Little Pony, The Chronicles of Narnia, Queen Live at Wembley, Madonna in concert.
All whirling around time and time again wearing the tapes out. Am I damaged because of it? No, well I’m am stuck in the 80s… No, I’m not damaged, those films shaped who I am! They were my first passions, my first favourite characters, some of my first emotions. I would fill up over a sad scene.
I still want to be Madonna now!
Guess what else I remember from my childhood?
Spending every Saturday at my Nan’s house surrounded by my massive family wondering which aunt or uncle would bring me a treat, sometimes it was £1, a Galaxy or if I was really lucky, a doll! I remember playing out in the garden in a world of pixies, fairies and baddies created by the imaginative little minds of me and my sisters. I remember every family holiday having a mandatory educational trip. My dad took us to slate mines, factories, museums, old towns. We were encouraged to learn! I remember turning our living room into a hospital for dolls where my mom let us dismantle vegetable racks and repurpose them as doll’s beds. No pen was safe, we used to take the ink middle out and use the clear casing as a thermometer. Toilet roll demolished to create bandages, the Andrex puppy had nothing on us!
So you see, I actually had a very creative, educational, interesting childhood. Regardless of my screen time I turned out just fine. The reason I turned out just fine is because my mom and dad brought me up well.
I know I will provide Ollie with varied activities throughout his life. Some of them will be learning how to cope with losing on a computer game or dealing with the horrific loss that unfortunately every child must come to terms with… The death of Mufasa.
We will also spend a lot of time at zoos and farms learning about animals, insect hunts in the garden to teach him to respect living things, travelling as much as we can to see different cultures. And of course, a simple Sunday hanging out with his family.
That is what it really comes down to. Screen time isn’t an issue unless joining in with the Milkshake dance routines is their only form of adult interaction.