*This is a collaborative post*
My daughters are growing up in a digital age. Despite being a bit of a geek, and therefore essentially a pro tech Mum, I am starting to question how much is too much and ask if I should be screening their screen time.
As a parent, the iPad and TV can be handy tools of the trade. With a young sibling at home, there have been times when I have had to insist that Erin ‘entertains herself’ whilst I deal with a hungry baby, poop explosion or teething meltdown. As much as I’d love to give her my undivided attention, it isn’t always possible, and at nearly 4 years old, she has to learn that at times, she has to be self sufficient. Her methods of entertainment choice will vary between tech and non tech – she might play with her dolls or do some colouring in (at which she is getting REALLY good!), however if she is tired herself, her preference would always be the iPad or her favourite Disney film on TV.
The iPad watching can be very educational (for example, Erin loves the Hairy Letters app which has really bought on her letters and shape making skills), online puzzle games and Peppa’s Paintbox (where she can bring out her creative side). At other times however, she could literally sit and watch an American woman open plastic eggs for hours on end if I let her. To date I have no idea why a toddler would find this so unbelievably fascinating, but apparently Erin is not alone in this obsession. She also knows most of the words to Moana’s Your Welcome, and can do a pretty impressive rendition of Frozen’s Let it Go around the living room. I have lost count of the amount of times I have seen that movie.
My reason for questioning how much is too much is this… Erin can now navigate her way around the iPad better than me. She has mastered the double pinch zoom, the swiping up to hide a notification, and will insist on pausing said Egg videos if she needs to go the toilet so that she doesn’t miss any of the action. The iPad I bought for my partners birthday last year has now got a pink case, and it appears to have been well and truly claimed. Is this bad parenting, or an inevitable side effect of being born in a digital era?
Rattan Direct recently created a survey asking parents How they keep their children entertained, interested to know opinions on children’s use of technology. When answering the question about how much time my daughter spends using tech each day, I struggled to find the answer The honest response? Probably more than I would like to admit.
This week, we found out my daughter’s school place has been accepted. In September, my baby girl starts school. The reality of this has started to hit home and so I have given myself a preverbal smack on the bum. Whilst some tech is fun, I probably need to keep a closer eye on its benefits. More educational games, and less opening of eggs. More reading and writing, and less unboxing videos.
And as for entertainment? The time for tech will surely come. I need to start setting a better example and put my phone down occasionally myself – something that as a blogger is easier said than done. Tomorrow we are spending the day together as a family. We are going on a bear hunt (hypothetically speaking), and getting the girls out in the fresh outdoors. Will I take my phone with me? Of course. Will I take a million photographs? Guaranteed. But will the girls both nod off after wearing out their little legs in the sunshine- I certainly hope so.
How do you keep your kids entertained?