Screen Time – Educational or Distracting?
Let’s read about Screen Time and how it helps or hampers the child’s growth. It was Nemit’s vaccination at 15 months when we met his doc after a gap of 3 months. While asking some general questions about his health, she asked us how many words does he speak and how much screen time we are offering him.
Like any other parents, we were happily showing him 1-2 hrs of daily rhymes thinking that he is learning something while we get some free time for ourselves. But we failed to observe that he was not learning any words from those songs. He would watch it glued at one place and rarely used to copy any actions.
According to the doc, at around 15 months he should be speaking at least 7-8 meaningful words and that list should keep expanding with each month. Now that was an alarm for us because Nemit hardly speaks any words except for Mumma Papa.
“It is recommended to avoid any screen media (TV, mobile phones, tablets, computers) for babies 0 to 18 months old”
The human brain is the least developed of our organ systems at birth. Most of its development occurs in the first two years of life. Neurologists have identified three types of stimuli that helps in brain growth.
(1) Babies need interaction with parents and other humans.
(2) They need to manipulate their environment (to touch things, to feel and move them).
(3) They need to do “problem-solving” activities.
Of these three critical forms of interaction, television provides none.
Doc has asked us to zero on his screen media and it came as a big task for us. Being a mother, I know that there is nothing which we can’t-do for our little ones. We can fight the greatest battles for the well-being of our kids. No challenge is too big for us.
But there have been many debates going on- Is staying away really the best approach?
*There is a research that shows when parents make screen use an interactive, shared experience, it can become a tool for learning and the potential negative effects can be reduced* But moderation is the key.
Let us understand a bit about Screen time- There is Passive Screen Time which is like watching cartoons or rhymes or movies. Kids’ TV had become little more than a tool for keeping children from tearing up the living room. Then there is Active Screen Time which is like communicating via Skype or playing an interactive game but it should not take the place of activities and games that should happen in the real world of a child.
We can move from a “no screen time” recommendation to a “mindful screen time” in today’s media-manic world by following the 3C’s mantra- the Content, the Context, and the Child.
-This means being choosy about the type of content (apps, games, TV shows) you let your child see, such as electronic picture books, interactive apps or personal videos of family.
-Be aware of the context as to how their usage may be affecting other interests or activities, such as outdoor play.
-And be alert to the needs of the child as an individual: A child will react in unique ways to what he or she sees and plays with.
In comparison to the high stimulation that media screen offers, real life can seem slow and children can respond to it with boredom and inattentiveness. Eliminating screen time is a choice for engagement overstimulation and activity over passivity. The choice is ours.
Achieving zero screen time is not that difficult, follow your child’s cues and respond accordingly. I tried to involve him in fun and interactive activities using DIY approach.
In the pics, you can see few of the activities we do to keep Nemit busy through the day.
- Using magnetic board and magnetic chess pieces for perfecting the pincer grip
- Exploring raw vegetables like onions, potato, garlic, ginger etc
- Using container set as a busy activity, it works as a puzzle too.
- Switch on/off activity & putting the cotton swabs in the little sockets of an old non-working extension board.
- Pretend to play with toolset & kitchen utensils.
- Sticking activity- using small smiley stickers on a cardboard & then taking them off.
- Using cotton swabs to pass through the gaps of the basket & putting cotton swabs one by one in a small bottle.
- Reading storybooks.
- Lacing through the holes in the cardboard box.
It’s been 3 months after that visit to the doc and since then we are following ‘zero screen time’. Within a month Nemit started speaking 5 new words, there is an improvement in his understanding of things, he happily copies the actions we do while singing rhymes and moreover learning is connected to the feeling of being loved and supported as you discover the world together. Kids love to explore and learn from their surroundings. They love to interact, have you ever noticed how they just keep on babbling something even when they are alone. Talk to your child as much as possible.
Just look around and you will find something to keep your child engaged. Few activity ideas sourced from other awesome moms-
- Doing crazy dance moves with baby in arms
- Babbling nonsense
- Reading sound & picture books
- Using flashcards
- Block puzzles
- Play clay dough
- Sand play
- Water play
I believe it’s not just the baby who is growing it is ‘We the parents’ who are growing with them each day.
This post is published as an Article on Babychakra.
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