Posts Tagged ‘media’

The Week the TV Died

Monday, September 19th, 2016

The day the TV diedWe just returned from a two-month venture away from home, one of the perks of being a stay-at-home-mom with a teacher hubby. We drove several thousand miles over that time. The children were ready to be home. I was ready for a break, ready to not be “on” all the time. We came home to a power-surged television and Blu-ray player. Our only television and Blu-ray player. Did I mention I stay at home with three children and my husband is a school teacher? Going out and dropping a load of cash was not in the cards after the summer we just had (ever?). But fortunately, the TV was under warranty and could be fixed for free. In 19 days.

The official mom in me said, “We don’t need TV anyway; the AAP discourages prolonged screen time; play with your toys; use your imagination.” We don’t have cable anyway. I painted a picture of simpler times and the importance of creativity in child development. I glamorized our lives to that of a natural family magazine cover shoot. Oh, the opportunity! Oh the solitude! Unofficially I was a little rattled. I often sat up late at night with the 4-month-old, nursing. With hubby going out of town for a week, I needed the occasional assistance of a television for very basic needs—like mama’s gotta shower and momma needs to fix dinner!

We don’t own smart phones, but we have more than one screen. Our laptop and tablet ended up getting a little heavier-than-usual use by the end of the 19 days. We survived. Did we learn anything?

TV is overrated. Our kids woke up and played quietly without bother. They didn’t ask much at all that first week about the television or when it would make its return. We spent more time with books and playing with toys. I often use television as a tool when I need to get something done (like call customer service, etc.) or just need to take a deep breath because, you know, I have a young infant, toddler, and preschool-aged kid. Turns out toys did a pretty similar job as television with the whole “keeping them occupied” concern. In fact, they seemed to play together a little more with less distraction because the TV wasn’t there.

TV is underrated. Like I said, mama needs a quick shower with the assurance that something has her children’s attention. Few things are as mesmerizing as a new episode of Super Why! Mama needs a few minutes of peace sometimes, especially if she (or daddy) is a single parent or sick or has other additional, situational challenges. Also I can’t juggle a screen while nursing. We don’t have a smartphone and the laptop distracted the babe. I tried. More than once. I certainly got my minutes of peace! They occurred late in the night for the most part while baby nursed. Peace turned into a little aimless boredom because nursing a young babe is very time and energy consuming. You sit a lot. And, turns out, without a television late in the night when your mind is beyond tired, you stare at the wall, a lot.

There was not newfound solitude or deep satisfaction with life. I’ve heard the terms float around—the “no TV kid” or “low media kid.” I suppose we are already low media, and we do that rather purposefully though not as fervently as possible. I don’t think removing the television made all that much difference. Perhaps this is because I’m already mindful of limiting screen time and “cultivating intrinsically motivated, independent exploration” or because this venture lasted less than three weeks. Life was pretty much the same for us, and no life-changing development occurred so far as I could see.

There was newfound solitude and deep satisfaction with life. Sitting in the quiet at the end of a long day while I nursed my babe would previously include an episode of some old show on Netflix. Turns out the quiet was nice for me more than the children in that I spent those evening hours reading or processing the day. I spend time with my daughter all day but not being distracted by television allowed me to spend that last hour more aware and appreciative of her presence in my life as she settled into sleep. You know, all that “cherish every moment” stuff older parents mention? I did. Perhaps if anyone benefited from the lack of television in our home it was me. Turns out instead of going a little crazier I found a little peace.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 4 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Screen Time and Your Baby

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Once upon a time, the technological babysitter came into this world and parenting was changed forever. Television. iPad. Leap Pad. Smart phone. Portable DVD player. Oh how clutch these things can prove on an endless car ride, long wait at the doctor’s office, or shower time for a very worn-down mommy.

The AAP’s media kit includes extensive information about age-specific suggestions for all stages of development and empirical research on the effects of screen time and types of programming (e.g. violence). Consider what your child is not doing if they sit to watch television—they aren’t utilizing their own creativity, expressing their thoughts, interacting with others, building motor skills, spending time outdoors, or learning interactive skills like listening and sharing, among other things. AAP takes the stance that unstructured play is exactly how children, including those under the age of 2, develop in these areas.

Sure, we don’t always have to be doing something with our time, but a young child’s mind is constantly forming and growing. A child’s brain mass triples in the first year of life! The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests no screen time for children under 2, and limiting screen time for children over 2 to just one or two hours per day. This “media diet” also includes setting up schedules or curfews for watching television, monitoring the quality of the programming children digest, and setting up screen-free zones in the home.

Here are a few things to consider when assessing use of screen time:

  • Evaluate the home. Where are the screens? Remember to include video games, computers, phones, and tablets as well as televisions. Consider removing them or making them less accessible. Instead of a row of movie cases on the shelf, we store them in a cd case that zips up and hides in a drawer. My toddler forgets we have an iPad sometimes—until he sees it.
  • Don’t just remove technological opportunities—replace them. We have a basket for books in most rooms of our small home. I include both classic children books as well as books with some of my son’s favorite characters.
  • Scout out quality programming. We know when a few favorite shows are on PBS. I also made a child-specific Netflix identity for our kids that I pre-stocked with shows I approve. I spent an evening sifting through apps, keeping the most appropriate and deleting the rest. I also restricted our 3-year-old’s ability to make in-app purchases or shop for new apps. Utilize resources like Netflix and Amazon Prime to play shows when it’s convenient for you. Instead of being held to the schedule of the TV, you can turn it on when you do need that shower, are in the middle of an intense part of meal prep, or other times when you really would appreciate the distraction of television for your kiddo.
  • Assess YOUR use of screens. This one hurts. When I saw how I am an example to my children AND how technology often distracted me from giving them my full attention, I had to take note. We no longer own smart phones because we just don’t need them. Considering your use of screen time may also provide second-hand screen time to your kiddo. It may be a “mommy show” on TV, but they’re still taking it in.
  • Check nostalgia at the door. Star Wars. Winnie the Pooh. Super heroes. My Little Pony. Oh, memories. Remember you have plenty of time to share your most beloved characters with your kids; wait until they are developmentally ready so they can enjoy them to their fullest!

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.