Charlie O'Brien blog: Screen junkies, 'digital heroin' and sensible parenting

by Charlie O'Brien

Arrghh, as parents there is so much out there to feel guilty about already. Feeding techniques, sleeping techniques, child-free nights out, working, not working. The list is endlessly exhausting.

There’s another topic that also crops up a lot – and one that I’ve seen friends be very judgemental about and that’s screen time.

By screen time I am personally referring to TV as well as tablets.

Noah getting set for another swimming session

Noah getting set for another swimming session

Now I’m educated and sensible. OF COURSE it’s not a good idea to plonk your kids in front of the TV or tablet for 10 hours a day and leave them to it. Similarly it wouldn’t be advisable to eat chocolate cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner (although in my pregnant state I’d give it a good go!) But as with most things – the key in my opinion – is moderation.

Noah watches TV. He loves Thomas the Tank Engine while he’s playing with his trains and he’s also a fan of Frozen, Tangled, Shrek and Baby TV. He also plays a couple of educational games on our phones or ipad about once a week.

But Noah also loves walks, the park, slides, football club, toddler group, music group, swimming lessons, his friends at the Childminder’s house, his cousins, his uncles and his nanny and grandad.

'Like most toddlers Noah loves life and is intrigued by the world around him'

'Like most toddlers Noah loves life and is intrigued by the world around him'

As a family we enjoy meals out, weekends away, trips to castles and museums and adventures in general.

Like most toddlers Noah loves life and is intrigued by the world around him and as parents – we love teaching him.

But on the occasions when he has screen time – be it when I’m in the shower, or doing some work, or purely because he’s tired – he’s also learning from that too.

He counts along to 10 and sometimes 20 with Baby TV, he names animals and he knows all the words to loads of Disney songs. In fact singing along makes him SO happy it’s a joy to watch. We even realised this week he can identify written numbers – something he’s learned from Baby TV and not us as we haven't got that far yet!

A theatre trip with dad

A theatre trip with dad

Charlie and Noah - moderation is the key to many parenting issues

Charlie and Noah - moderation is the key to many parenting issues

I love a good box set and like nothing more than to chill out in front of the TV or flick through social media when I’m tired and have had a busy day. But it doesn’t mean I’m addicted or obsessed. It’s just one thing from a massive spectrum of things I enjoy.

The TV was also my saviour in early pregnancy when I was so tired and nauseous in the afternoons I actually cried most days.

So I won’t feel guilty I’m afraid, no matter how many times my friends post articles on Facebook about screen time being worse for toddlers than heroin. (How do they know this anyway – have these scientists given toddlers heroin to try?!)

Having a fun, family day out at Leeds Castle

Having a fun, family day out at Leeds Castle

As with most things parenting related let’s crack on and do our best and try not to judge the decisions of others.

Right –speaking of TV, I’m off to watch the season finalé of Broadchurch because I was away and missed it!

Charlie X

Follow Charlie's daily blog here

 

 

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