I’ve been in a number of airports lately, and one of the only fun things about it is the newsstands. I love looking at all those rows of shiny magazines, especially in the bigger stands where they have all sorts of special interest magazines you’ve never really seen before (not those interests, I was thinking various sports or travel).
What caught my eye recently was The Atlantic and its cover story, “The Touch-Screen Generation.” The little girl on the cover looks to be adorable, but she is so engrossed in the iPad screen, her entire face is obscured. Oof.
The article is fascinating. I was interested to learn that while I’ve always heard/thought brain wave activity while you watch TV is akin to a total zoning out, it’s actually not much different than when you are still, but totally absorbed in a book. Or that the “zombie effect” of mindlessly watching regardless of what plays isn’t truly accurate. Experiments show that by 24 months, babies will look away from programs that don’t make sense such as characters speaking backwards or action sequences run out of order. (This does not take account for adults that can watch marathon runs of almost any reality show.)
Yet, I’d still be hesitant to allow unrestricted amounts of screen time of either the TV or iPad, though I’m much more relaxed about it than I used to be.
When my kids were younger, I allowed TV very sparingly–maybe 30 min a couple days a week. My kids didn’t seem overly interested in it, but it did allow me a few minutes of peace on an overly fussy day (on my part or theirs!). It would annoy me to no end though that professionals were so often hijacking this time by presenting open screen time.
Preschool often ran videos if the weather outside was bad. The dentist had a screen for distractions; many other waiting rooms do, too. And this was ten years ago. The number of screens has multiplied shockingly since then. Phones themselves make screens constantly available.
Because of this, I limit myself to how often I use the iPad in therapy, feeling that my job is to do some of the “heavy lifting” for the parents. Not just in terms of guiding speech and language goals, but in participating enthusiastically in another game of Candyland or playing trains, yet again, if that’s the child’s passion. I guess I see my role as therapist and respite provider (and every parent needs some respite!)
So, where do you stand on this?