Pop Culture Embassy Game on Mom: Balancing Screen Time

parenting

Welcome to 2016. To start the new year with a bit of a bang, I am starting a regular column (something completely new to me)!

Game on Mom

Game on Mom will be the place where I explore some of the challenges I face as a new mom with gaming and technology. I plan to publish a topic here once a month. For my inaugural topic, I discuss screen time and young children.

I wasn’t even officially a mom when the barrage of information against technology began and since then it has felt like a full frontal assault. For those of you without children, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests children under two be exposed to absolutely no screen time. None. No TV, no smart phones, no tablets.

game on mom column series logoScreens are a regular part of the modern, developed life. I made the realization early on that my fascination with my phone and the other screens in my life (like the one I am typing this column on) was going to translate directly to my child. How could I expect her to avoid screens when so much of my life as a gamer, writer, and teacher is devoted to “screen time?”

I felt like a hypocrite immediately. The phrase, “Do as I say not as I do” kept ringing through my head. I didn’t (and still don’t) know much as a new parent, but I knew that I didn’t want to ask something of my child I could not ask of myself.

So I cautiously entered the world of limited screen time. A single episode of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood a few times a week right around her first birthday. I feel guilty putting that in writing… that is how ingrained it has become to believe screen time is bad.

mr rogers

I watched a relationship blossom between her and Mister Rogers, a show I remember fondly from my own childhood. Granted, I have the privilege of being able to hand select the media my child is exposed to and starting with one of my favorites as a child was certainly enjoyable on several levels. She looked forward to “chatting” with Mister Rogers and it slowly became part of our routine. She began to show an interest in letters and numbers and farm animals and music.

Granted, a lot of these interests would likely have emerged without Mister Rogers leading the way, but honestly, seeing her react to the gentle man in the red sweater that I loved as a child was one of the first among many moments, I am sure, of me falling in love with being a parent. The childlike wonder of Mister Rogers is the first of many shared experiences we now have.

Have I faced challenges with screen time? Absolutely. Finding balance is difficult for adults and nearly impossible for a toddler. But it is a challenge that I am taking great reward in since I see it as a metaphor for much of living in the modern world: actively deciding which distractions are the best for you.

Discussion

Are you a parent? What are your thoughts or experiences with screen time? If you’re not a parent, what you do think about kids using screens or watching TV?

2 thoughts on “Pop Culture Embassy Game on Mom: Balancing Screen Time

  1. Great post, Regina!

    I would say, though, even though I won't refute that there is indeed some insight in the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the bottom line is not how much screen time your kids have or their moms have; its in the relationship that moms have with their kids. If children know that despite all the other factors in a parent's life, they are the Number One priority (not just in words, but in actions) then the rest is basically frosting on the cake. Yes, we want to limit our children's screen time, and we want to make sure our own screen time is appropriate within a family structure – it's so easy to be out of balance with these distractions – but the screen is not the issue. The attention and time spent together is.

    Gaming has actually been a strong bond between myself and my children over the years. Had I listened to all the "shoulds" bombarding me – well meaning and full of authority – we never would have had this wonderful way of relating that I truly cherish.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Sharon! I wholeheartedly agree. I love when screen time is part of family time and I think that engagement can be valuable. I agree that we can take much insight from the warnings but I tend to bristle any time there are absolutes concerned. Moderation really is key and a lifestyle I am hoping to encourage with my little one, especially in a culture of such extremes.

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