The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that kids over 2 years old be limited to a maximum of 2 hours of screen time. Many experts state however, that limiting exposure is not necessarily realistic. So, it has been suggested that children use protective eyewear while using the devices.
To read article referenced, click Here.
Although I can agree with protecting our children whenever possible (sunscreen comes to mind when going to the beach or a winter coat when playing in the snow), wearing protective eyewear because our children are on electronics too much concerns me. We want to be careful as parents, not to acquiesce our parenting responsibilities over to the ‘iBabysitter’ device. The word parent comes from the root word “parenth” which means to teach. It is important to ask ourselves, “What is it that I want to teach my child?”
This is not to say that all devices are bad. But just as we make conscious choices about what our children eat, wear, watch and whose care we entrust them to, we must also make conscious choices about 1) what our children are watching, 2) when they are watching (is this just more convenient for us?) 3) what habits are we teaching them and 4) what are the long-term affects of this immediate “quick-fix” solution?
However, (and I hear the frustration!) what is a parent to do – while waiting at the doctor’s office, in a restaurant, or a crowded non-“child-friendly” environment? I used to have a bag that stayed in the car filled with many “hands-on” toys : Travel size Bop it! (which is great for increasing a child’s auditory processing skills!), travel size etch-a sketch (great for eye-hand coordination and fosters creativity), Boggle for the family to play at the table (good for forming words, identifying letters), mini wipe-erase boards, coloring books/crayons, stickers, Wiki-stix, model magic and the list is endless. I would continually update it and would always have a few healthy snacks/water bottles in it too.
What we need is to plan ahead, have options and be prepared! Not only will our child’s development be enhanced, so will our interactions and relationships with our children. We hand them our device when they are younger to silence them. Then when they become teenagers they “hand us” the silence – for the device.
I think we’re going to need more than protective eyewear.
Lisa Smith, Ph. D is CSN’s newest subject matter expert. She has authored 8 books, speaks around the country about Parenting On Purpose and is available for individual consultation. Her latest book is available HERE