Because that right there? That is pure JOY and I have never witnessed that same look after he has watched the show with the same title on television. In fact, what I do witness after screen time is more whining, more tantrums, more rudeness, and more hyperactivity.
Now I haven’t done extensive research on screen time and young children and I will never claim that I am the do it “right” parent. My parenting is mostly based on instinct and what my mama heart tells me. I strive to do things in a way that honors who I am AND who my child is. I strive to parent in a way that is better than I was parented, but also realize that we will all make mistakes and hope my children parent better than I did as well. I read books and articles about intentional parenting and do research, but I do not obsess. Mostly, my heart and my faith lead the way.
With that said, limiting screen time in our home has been one of the BEST things we have done and here are just a few reasons why:
1. Some of the best memories I have of my childhood are centered around reading and a good book. I honestly believe this is one of the greatest gifts I can give my children – the love of reading.
2. As my son reaches 4, I see his imagination and thinking processes soar – something that has not been tainted by television and screens telling him how to think. We spend hours rebuilding and reenacting stories we have read and inventions we have seen. One of his favorite things is to create conveyer belts out of blocks, books, boxes, you name it.
3. We believe in experiencing the world instead of watching it. Less screen time inspires us to get out and do more things together – whether it is to simply get outside and go for a walk or plan an adventure. There are so many things to do that are free or budget friendly and I am an advocate for getting out every day if possible!
4. Less screen time inspires play – both for my son individually and for me to play with him. When he is watching a television show I find myself scrambling to either get things done around the house, get work done, OR scrolling on my own screen. Isn’t it better for all of us if we just put the dang phone down?
5. It inspires me to be more present as a parent. If I limit screen time for him, I also limit screen time for me. I rarely watch television and while some days I am better than others, I do try to limit time on my phone. (But hey – sometimes that phone and text messages with a mama friend is my ONLY connection to adult life!)
6. Tonight, my son opted for an early bath and story time – we literally sat and read books for over an hour because he WANTED to. He loves reading and learning and his curiosity is amazing.
7. He has insights in these books that I miss as an adult and it is magical seeing books through a child’s eyes.
8. Quality time is my love language – and I believe it is one of my son’s as well. Less screen time means more quality time in our home. Without the distraction, we are all more intentional and present. Reading is a favorite time for my son and myself and I will remember these special moments forever.
9. Studies show that for children under 3, there are negative effects including:
· When TV is simply on in the room – children play less intently and for shorter amounts of time
· When the TV is on, parents are more distracted and less attuned to children’s needs, thus effecting the quality of interaction with their children. When the parents are instead more attentive and work with young children in their play – the children are better able to complete complex and sophisticated tasks, and engage in independent, goal-oriented play, higher quality play and more focused play
· Screen time has been linked to language delay and smaller vocabularies
· Increases likelihood the child will be inactive and obese, have difficulty sleeping and show aggression
10. I have heard it said that the love of reading leads to love of learning and that in order for a child to learn to read he or she needs at least 1,000 hours of lap time reading with a parent. This seems like one of the easiest and most simple ways I can affect my son’s life. By giving him the gift of intentionality, quality time, AND the love of learning/reading, I truly believe he will do great things and change the world. And isn’t that all we really want for our children?