Screens are here to stay and how we manage them will impact our children both now and in their future.
The American Academy of Pediatrics produced a landmark publication about television. We all know of families who monitor screen use and those who don’t.. We probably all hold definite views of when to introduce TV, the computer ipads, handheld devices and how long our children should or shouldn’t use them. When was the last time you revised these?
This blog started in the climate of electronic excitement around Baby Einstein. There just wasn’t many people in my sphere of friends and where I lived who valued all different types of play. Of course there were people around, we just hadn’t found each other. I wanted to share the not plugged in ideas. It seemed that genuine preschool, toddler and baby play activities like play dough, bubbles , blocks were ‘old school’ and electronics was what all self-respecting 21st Century mums should be doing.
Developing our media diet
Over the last ten years we’ve developed a media diet of how we use screens and media with our family. I would encourage you to do the same. It’s not a prescriptive list of do this and everything will be fine. Instead, we use this as a guidance for how we do things in our family.
We’ve been influenced by lots of things including many books but these probably stand out the most. If you’re looking for some clarity I would recommend these to push you off the fence and with a solution for your family.
Our media diet is roughly made up of 6 elements. I’ll talk about the first two here and continue with the rest in the next post about our media diet. I’m really interested in what you do in your home. Don’t forget to comment at the end of the post with what you do.
- We’ve made it standard from the beginning to keep the TV in an armoire with doors. We then invite the TV into the room by opening the doors.
- Reduced the TVs in the home. Living overseas this happened with no cable installed around the house and needed different televisions in each country. Having one TV was fine.
- Keep games, dvds etc out of eyeshot. Keeping them in a draw still allows for lining them up and emptying the draw but it removed the temptation of DVD picture being ever-present “Play me! Play me!”
- The room is tidy even if there are books piled high on the table or littered on the couch.
- Timers are your friends Being able to set things to turn off, even if you are in the room is really helpful. Wind up timers are great loud interrupters and signal the end, wrap up and you will be plugging out or turning off.
- Establishing habits early ensures this is just the way we do things. Establishing afterwards is harder.
- Establish a read aloud time where we connect with a family book. Depending upon the layout of our current home, we’ve gone from one washing up and the other reading in earshot to audio stories exclusively in the car or in a bedroom. We’re listening to Eldest.
- As adults, we read our magazines and books in the family room and encourage the boys to do the same. We’re a family of readers, I’m sure because they’ve seen that we do.
- The boys always buy each other a book for their birthday. So each boys knows they will get at least 2 books each birthday.
- We’ve subscribed to puzzle books like Puzzlemania and have many of the 1001 things to spot by Usborne. We buy pocket books of puzzles and spot the difference books along with comics and some children’s magazines. All material is welcome when we are reading.