Yes, I believe children do spend way too time looking at screens. Overall, as a generalization, I think they do. I know my own children spend way too much time in front of them. I know the children that I teach spend a lot of time looking at them outside of school. And at school, we can kind of build that routine where they’re only limited to so much time during the day, which is really good. And used wisely, it’s a positive thing. Not all screen time is bad time. I think it’s about finding the right balance.
If you to do things with your children, if they are looking at an app and you’re engaging in that app with them, they’re learning, you’re learning, you’ve got family time. You’re spending time with your kids. That is OK to me. Say there’s five tables. And I put iPads on one table, I put LEGO on another table, coloring in on another table, maybe another construction activity on another table, and say, a threading activity on another table. The children will always go for the iPads first. Guaranteed. 100%. They’ll all run to the iPads and fight over them. It’s just crazy how much technology, you know– how much they love it and how much they want to play with it.
I mean, they’ll have all these other activities that they could choose from, and they’ll choose the iPads. Parents feel like, oh, I don’t want my child to be the only one that doesn’t know how to turn an iPad on, you know, or swipe across a page. So you kind of want to teach them that. You want to teach them how to use a mouse, and all those sorts of things. So even though they might be having fun, they’re actually learning something useful to them for the future as well. I guess trying to make them responsible for screen time as well. I think you should allow them to do things before they head off and play with the iPads.
So for example, you could say, have you done something creative? I want to see you do something creative. So it could be a drawing or you could’ve made something with the LEGO. Having that routine throughout the day, so they’re not just relying on the screen to entertain them is really important. And then they get used to knowing that, OK, I’ve got to do this, and then I get my little bit of screen time. And then keep that routine going throughout the day. We time them on the iPad. So I have a timer. So I’ll pop the timer on for five minutes. You know, Grace, you’ve got five minutes. Sebastian, you’ve got five minutes.
Once your five minutes is up, once you hear the buzzer go, you’ve got to move on. It’s someone else’s turn. As a parent, you can take the screen away. Put it away. And I mean limit how much time they have on it. Use it wisely. Yes, we all need those moments where we just need time to get dinner on the table, and, you know, or get the bath ready. So you can pick your time when you allow them to use the technology. What I find as a teacher as well is that children come to school using games which aren’t appropriate for them. And basically having been given it as a babysitting tool.
But at the same time, you can choose what they tend to do with that screen. So you can give them a reading app. You can give them a maths app. You can give, you know, just flash cards to look at. My daughter is 20 months now, and she looks at flash cards and she points to things. It might be a picture of a nose, and then she’ll point to her nose. Admittedly, we are there with her, so when she’s doing these. And we’ll go, oh, where are your ears? And she has to find her ears. So we’re doing it with her. It’s kind of like reading a book, but she’s getting the technology as well.
For healthy parenting, you can easily take that screen away. And then get them outside, get them moving around. Play board games and whatnot with them. Read to them. Get them reading rather than give them screen.