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"Mom can I see Peppa Pig", " Nani can I have the iPad, please", "Papa after eating my food, can i get to see my favorite cartoon." These are the questions I hear from my toddler each day! I am sure, you as a parent echo this with me. While it is pretty easy to give in to these so called "screen times" when the love of your life, your kid asks for it, as this allows you to let you have the "me time" in exchange, is it ok to do so? As a parent I was always fighting a battle of questions and guilt which kept popping in my head and choked me up with thoughts like, is it ok for my child to watch so much TV/videos/apps etc ?? I never got this when I was growing up, so is it ok for my child to learn through the dot com way?? What if my child gets addicted to this? How will my child learn reading, without holding a real book in his/her hand? What should I do? What should I not do? How much screen time is good and how much isn't?
These questions brought me to write this blog. The thoughts mentioned are purely from my perspective and what I think as an educator and a parent....
My daughter has screen time mostly once a day and on weekends it may be twice, each lasting for about 35-50 mins. Most of the things she watches is educational or at least right now what my child is engaged is watching are educational. I feel she is learning from the selected shows she watches like Peppa Pig, Mickey Mouse Club House, Sid the Science Kid, Brain Pop and some shows on Baby TV and I know that she retains some knowledge from these various educational topics shown in the show, if not all.
I do try to weave screen time in the routine as we all love routines and feel a sense of completeness as the day ends but at the same time I keep the option open so as to teach and inculcate flexibility and adaptive nature in my child. Typically screen time is seldom offered during meal times as we eat together as a family, as far as possible. But sometimes I do have to use screen time out of routine, for example if I am too caught up with chores in and outside the house, urgent work and/or errands etc. And this is the part I feel I need to tell parents, if this happens once in a while, its absolutely ok as we all do break from our own routines once in a while. But then the question arises...how much of screen time is ok for my child, how do I decide as a parent?
I found out that first of all its very important for me to understand the terms Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants.
Digital Immigrants- “As Digital Immigrants learn – like all immigrants, some better than others – to adapt to their environment, they always retain, to some degree, their "accent," that is, their foot in the past." Marc Prensky 2001
Digital Natives- “Today‟s students – K through college – represent the first generations to grow up with this new technology. They have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, video games, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age. Today‟s average college grads have spent less than 5,000 hours of their lives reading, but over 10,000 hours playing video games (not to mention 20,000 hours watching TV). Computer games, email, the Internet, cell phones and instant messaging are integral parts of their lives.” Mark Prensky 2001
I got so interested Mark Prensky's finding and it motivated me to research a bit more on this and I found out that-
1. "Anything that is in the world when you were born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works."
2. "Anything that’s invented between when you are fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it."
3. "Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things."
By Douglas Adams
These two terms, Digital immigrants and digital natives, stuck with me like glue in my head and helped me gain a brand new insight altogether about this burning issue I was dealing with. Doughlas Adams, helped me further understand the difference between the time and age I was born in and my child is born in! I resonated with these research based explanations by these experts and all most felt like the battle in my head, the guilt I felt, the ambiguity I was experiencing about screen time was answered to a large extent! After having understood these crucial terms and gaining these insights through these researches which helped me understand it's relevance in the 21st century in context to me as a parent, there was a new found love for these new age tools for my child to use!
So keeping the above points, brought forth by Marc Prensky and Douglas Adams, I believe I am a Digital Immigrant and my daughter is a Digital Native! She is born in the time where IT has penetrated deep into our lives and with out technology we all feel handicapped! And hence, now I do not feel guilty when she does use screen time in her daily routine or sometimes out of her routine.
In the end I want to conclude by adding what NAEYC has to say about the use of tech tools in education, "The developmentally appropriate use of iPads must supplement or be part of the early childhood curriculum but not replace the important activities of art, books, music, home-corner, dramatic play, blocks, sand and water." (National Association for the Education of Young Children).
So as long as I am able to check mark all the hands on learning experiences for my daughter, I am fine with her using screen time!