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.
Screens 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.
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.
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?