How much is too much? Is 1.8 billion too many hits for a song? Not too far from "Gangnam style", "Shape of you" and even "Despacito" (Source - Wikipedia). Who could be so interested in watching a family of sharks twerking? The majority of this has to be, indeed, under the age of 6.
The words "baby shark do do do do" are so penetrating, some days that's all I can think of. There's literally a ringing in my ear every time I hear it. If I jog my memory "baby shark" is not the only one of it's kind. There's the "Bing Bong Song" from Peppa pig as number 2 in my "we make no sense" songs list.
Is it OK to have some screentime, absolutely no screentime, or just to let the screen be? Where some kids also spend some part of their childhood in the non-techno world, others are serious devotees of the screen. If children are gazing at the screen for hours, they need to stop before they are part of the screen addicts’ club. But it seems to be one of those grey area questions which raise a ton of debates.
1. YEAH DUDE! WHATEVER! WHO CARES?
Do we all really know what our children are watching? Is the censor board rating always trustworthy? The heading of this point comes from a popular show for 5 years old. Gosh! I hear what you're saying.
"Daddy's big tummy" from Peppa pig doesn't sound harmful. Not until my 4 years old son pointed out to a lady at a train station and said out loud that she has a big tummy like daddy pig. I was mortified. Kill me now!
By the grace of some kid friendly techno minds, there is another side to this coin. You’d be surprised to see how efficient and effective technology is in assisting your child’s learning. From something as simple as shape and color recognition, alphabets and numbers, counting, animals, fruits and veggies, earth, space, professions, feelings, morals, sea life, Math, Science, History, Geography, Art, wait, I may have some more in the back, and lots and lots of life skills. Lots of brownie points to Peppa Pig and Dora on that last one. Reading eggs, National geographic kids and Math for beginners are on all devices in my house.
So, should the kids be encouraged to watch such stuff? I don't see why not. Further, I have parental controls on all devices and apps including Amazon fire, Netflix and you tube kids. However, kids need to be supervised so that they don't pick up expressions like "daddy's big tummy" from an otherwise perfect show.
2. MY HEART WILL GO ON AND ON
Once you have picked what your children are allowed to watch, and you have also magically convinced them to follow your instructions on this, you would think you have achieved nirvana. Wake up my friend, this is a delusion.
Screen use for more that 2 hours on a daily basis can shrink a child's physical activity, social development, curiosity and hunger for learning.
This is where the strict parent comes in handy. You need to limit the time your kids can watch. For me, that limit is 30 mins to one hour, twice a day. Well, this almost never happens. What they say, you can't win them all.
Even if the kids are learning, there must be a rule about time. Past that limit, try asking them nicely a couple of times. And then, quit feeling sorry for yourself and pull yourself together and say it with affirmation. I generally count till 5 and then I snap and switch the thing off. It took me ages to be able to do that. And as Susan said to Ross (Friends), "You know you have to take a course. Otherwise they don't let you do it." Pun definitely intended.
3. LET’S LEAVE SOME TOYS FOR THE OTHER KIDS TO BUY
I love toys. I have enough toys in my house to fill a kindergarten and a childcare. I use toys to accessorize my house and I am not being sarcastic. My kids love all kinds of toys. They are a great distraction from technology. They are not a waste of money and space.
Around the world Lego duplo set has it’s special features described as “This special LEGO® DUPLO® Around the World set puts a world of animals at your fingertips! Little explorers can travel from place to place by boat or plane to learn about different animals and their natural habitats. With 5 LEGO® DUPLO® figures plus 17 animals from all around the world, including a whale with opening mouth function!” (https://shop.lego.com/en-US/Around-the-World-10805)
Is this not reason enough to fall in love with it? Sounds complacent! I don’t care. Toys are awesome.
So, in vague words, all you need to do is know what your kids are watching and for how long. Sounds as cliché as after you have had kids, you will have time to focus on other things. To be honest, it is a game of trial and error. You try to make it work in the best possible way for your children. Kids will demand things out of their league. But, by all means, we as grown-ups, need to do the right thing. After all, it is the grown-ups who get to drive the real and not the toy Ferrari, even if its hypothetical.