Is screen time educational or distracting?

Screen Time – Educational or Distracting?

Screen time

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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13 Comments

  1. Ajita Chhabra August 1, 2017 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    So meaningful experience u shared Neha.. Really kids need our time n affection to grow beautifully inside out…. We as parents need to understand the right way to help them develop their mind n body..
    Nice work done by you..
    Keep da ball rolling..

    • Neha Sharma August 1, 2017 at 9:33 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much Ajita for your valuable input. Thanks for liking my write up..feel free to share any posts with your family & friends if you want. Hugs.

  2. Jordan September 11, 2017 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    A great topic! As a first time mom this was something I struggled to decide on. We closely monitor what our toddler watches (PBS shows like Daniel tiger and Superwhy). I also like to interact with him during the show (get up and stomp along to the number of the day on Sesame Street, answer questions on Super Why). Moderation is definitely key as well!!

    • Neha Sharma September 12, 2017 at 12:25 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your views Jordan 🙂

  3. Ashley September 12, 2017 at 7:54 am - Reply

    Great read! I am a huge advocate for turning the tv off and playing. Even with it on in the background it can be distracting and take away from the learning. Thanks for sharing!

    • Neha Sharma September 12, 2017 at 12:27 pm - Reply

      Yes, totally agree with your point, even if the TV is On in the background it acts as a distraction. Thanks for liking this post! 🙂

  4. Mai Edwards September 12, 2017 at 11:46 am - Reply

    Awesome post mama. I struggled with the same thing with my little girl but now after baby #2, I have gone with my gut and always trying to find the balance of it all.

    • Neha Sharma September 12, 2017 at 12:28 pm - Reply

      Great that you are now following your instincts, Mom always knows best. Thanks Mai 🙂

  5. Kinshoo September 13, 2017 at 1:32 am - Reply

    Somehow we managed Zero screen time till 1 year and few months after that. Gradually we started with few poems. Though Darsh was late in speaking but surprisingly he had picked up a lot of words from poems i used to sing and what he watched. It was just that he didn’t feel like repeating till his 2nd bday. The No Screen Time activities u mentioned r great. Thanks.

    • Neha Sharma September 24, 2017 at 10:53 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your experience ❤

  6. […] In young children, this love for outdoors comes very natural to them but sometimes the situation is reversed where parents find it quite difficult to send or encourage their kids to play outside just because these kids get too dependent on screen media entertainment for their daily dosage of activities (their mind gets tired but their physical energy remains unused). So, it’s very important to control and manage how kids spend their time and parents must help them in making wise media choices. It is recommended by American Academy of Pediatrics to avoid the use of digital media in children younger than 18-24 months. To read more about this, you can check my blog post ‘Is Screen time educational or distracting?’- Click here! […]

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