Nowadays, as parents, if we banned our children from the TV, there are probably 5 or more other ‘screen’ type options a child may turn to instead. Our other option as children was a computer that took goodness knows how long to load a game of Tetris or Pac-Man. Outside was certainly the better option.
Recently, close friends of ours needed to alter some severe attitudes in their 11 year old son. Not only was the TV banned, but also the X-box, PlayStation, DS, i Pod and access to smart phone games and the like. What does an 11 year old boy do, in this day and age, when all those items are banned….for an unidentified length of time?
The world may as well end, really. There is nothing left to live for. Just ask your nearest 11, 12 or 13 year old. Children have become extremely reliant on screens for entertainment, for sport, for games, for music for interaction and for communication. There’s not much left really that screens cannot offer.
Watching our friend’s 11 year old has been amusing and interesting at the same time. While the ‘woe is me’ has surfaced regularly, it is decreasing and amidst that he is developing skills in the kitchen, in card games, in communication and seems to have gained better control over his attitude and his choices. He now takes it upon himself to police others and their screens!
Overall the severe banning has been very positive and it has taken a lot of strength from the parents in maintaining their decision. It is often easier to have children being ‘remotely’ entertained rather than have them ‘in your face’ all the time. Parents today possibly don’t limit screen time because it keeps the peace, keeps the children happy and all is good.
The whole issue of children and ‘screen time’ is not a new one, and has certainly been widely researched and commented upon. The most common conclusion being “…it’s important to keep an eye on and ration your child’s consumption of media – be it TV, video games, the internet or DVDs – like you do sweets or fizzy drinks. Otherwise their mental and physical health might suffer in the long term “ (www.dad.info). We’ve all heard something along these lines before. We know it is bad in excess. But what is excess in this day and age? 10 years ago an hour was excess.
I personally feel that the measure of excess for each family is unique. It is up to every parent to look closely at their child and to understand their potential, their talents, and their learning style. At what point are screens, of any kind, altering who my child truly is and affecting who they are becoming.
For my personal situation, as parents, we know exactly when there has been too much TV or computer time allowed. And as we have younger children, this is completely our fault. We need to teach them boundaries with technology, outside the learning/research environments. Too much screen time for our children (which generally is around an hour or two) means dazed eyes, lack of ability to listen and follow instructions and general lack of motivation.
I am all for screens in general. Screens used in the right ways. Screens can educate, provide new knowledge and provide entertainment on days where I need down time, when the weather has been dreary or when I just need time to get the dinner to the table. As parents it is up to us. God has blessed us with children and it is not a role to be replaced by technology in any way.
Proverbs 1 verses 8-9 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.
Laura Veloso is wife to John and the mother of 3 young boys. She is trained in child welfare and primary school teaching and has experience in overseas missions and youth leadership.
Laura Veloso’s archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/laura-veloso.html