I have a confession. When my firstborn was an infant, I parked her in a bouncy seat in front of the TV for 30 minutes a day so I could make dinner.
She was a clingy baby and enjoyed being held. In fact, there was rarely a time when she was happy without being held. I was fairly young, in love with my new baby, and had the energy to accommodate. Yet when 5 o’clock came around, the TV went on, my baby got quiet, and my aching back enjoyed the break.
The programs I chose were always from the Baby Einstein DVD series. I had gotten them for my baby shower. The popular consensus in those days, not so very long ago, was that Baby Einstein videos were helpful. They stimulated your baby’s brain. They helped her learn to appreciate music, patterns, and art.
By the time my second child came along, the Baby Einstein craze was coming to a close. Or maybe I was becoming wiser. Oh, I still used the TV to keep my toddler safe and close to me while I fed my hungry newborn, which can be a seemingly endless task. But I began to seriously consider the potential negative impact that the tube could have on my kids.
My girls are now both in elementary school, and I still think about it. I’ve done some research. Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend any television time for children under the age of two? Did you know that a nearly 30% of babies and 44% of preschoolers have a television in their own bedroom? (See Common Sense Media's report on children's use of media in America.)
The purpose of this blog is to help me write my way through parenting two girls during a time when all kinds of media – smart phones, iPads, flat screen TVs – are more than commonplace in our homes and schools. I think that some media can be harmful, especially if it is age inappropriate or used too frequently. Some can be helpful; I know that my phone does wonders to keep me organized and although I don’t have an iPad yet, I know that lots of schools are using educational apps in the classroom.
The bottom line is that I want my girls to grow up with a healthy understanding of technology, finding a balance so that it enriches - but doesn't rule - their lives. And as a parent, I want to set a good example, to put down my smart phone, turn off the TV, and talk to my kids while there is still time.