Allowing your kids screen time is a bit like formula feeding, or putting your kids in daycare. A very persuasive part of our culture practically forbids it. And if you ignore this advice your child will suffer emotionally from the impact, and probably grow up behind bars.
Small price to pay, I think, for being able to survive long haul flights with an iPad...
However we all know that too much screen time can have negative impact on children.
With all this in mind, here are my five tips for sensible iParenting:
1. If you are watching TV or are involved in playing apps alongside the kids, and discussing what's on the screen, then this is an ACTIVITY, not screentime.
Thanks to the anonymous child psychologist who came up with this important distinction.
2. If it's both educational and your child enjoys it, then that's a no-brainer. We cannot halt progress, and if your child wants Siri to tell her a story then enjoy those few minutes off. Audio book apps, and teaching apps such as coding apps, chess apps all fall into this category. Learning how to play Candy Crush, however, does not.
3. Everything in good measure. Putting on the TV science channel 24/7 in the hope your child becomes Einstein, is not going to cut it. There do need to be limits, and institutional guidelines say 2 hours screen time per day max.
4. Be a role model. Difficult, I know, when our screens are used for email and phone, which seem to us like essentials. But we can create "Unplugged" times or zones in the house. eg. Mealtimes, Before School etc. Who knows they could even be useful for us too.
5. Be pragmatic. Sometimes I think this is the first skill a parent learns. For me if it's a choice between a meltdown in a restaurant even before the meal arrives, or a relaxed meal with the family with 10 minutes of iPad then I'll choose the latter any day of the week. The only price is a few disapproving looks from neighbouring tables.
And a final extra tip, which is really a rule, that I insist you follow:
6) Barbie. No. Never. Not under any circumstances. Especially not for four-year-olds. Unless you want them to think that closets are the size of castles, or that it's ok to say "delish". Unfortunately I learned this rule a bit too late..and am now trying to claw back to more age appropriate content.
Our children are unlikely to be more intelligent or successful because we continually turn off the TV and remove smartphone from their clutches. Once I understood this, iParenting became much easier in our household. It seems as with many parenting issues, judging the individual situation and the individual child is key in making those screen decisions.
Vivien de Tusch-Lec, founder of Bubele - the free go to app for London parents