Monday, July 22, 2013

No screen time!

You'll hear most parents lament the fact that all the techniques and disciplining mantras they had always sworn by go kaput when the baby actually arrives. It is really really true. So many "rules" are bent and worked around to allow for individual spaces (that is a very polite way of saying to give into stubborn infants/kids). (But that would be a different blog post.)

However, Vish and I have, as parents, stuck to some basic principles that are more-or-less non-compromisable for Manya (and have remained such in the 8 months so far - phew!). Out of these, one is no screen time till  M turn 2 (years) - so we have 16 more months to go. We follow this quite strictly - no screen time means no TV, no computer/laptop/tablets, no phones - basically nothing with a "screen". We also minimize any "background exposure", which means if she is around there'll be no TV running in the background. Music is okay. There are two exceptions to this rule. (1) She is allowed Skype time with family and friends. (2) Once in a while, we do show her photographs.

Our reasons are very simple. Babies and infants do not have the ability to correlate motion picture with the sound (low cognitive retention, and all that dense scientific lingo too), and when they start doing so (as they grow), they "learn" to become passive observers rather than proactive participants. Even after two, I personally feel screen time should be kept to a bare minimum and should always be supervised (not only to supervise the content but also to engage the child in understanding and relating to the content). 

I come from a home where mom and dad were very strict about TV watching in the growing up years. Even in high school and senior school, we were allowed only half an hour to an hour of TV everyday - and a movie on the weekend. It was in college that finally this rule was "lifted" mainly because we got quite out of hand by then :D. I can't really compare on how I have turned out vis-a-vis those who watched TV at will - but I do know that when I look back at my childhood - it is filled with vivid memories of lively family conversations, lots of books, board games, picnics and playing and running about. Strangely, the tears I shed because I was not allowed Batman AND Small Wonder AND Star Trek on the same day, are all forgotten (and forgiven :D)

Growing up in today's times with technology having encroached in all private spaces of our being, I know "controlling" will be more difficult than in the 80's and 90's - but I will try - really hard. Screen time can be a lot of fun, play and learning and I will ensure it's used only for that - and not as a substitute for real life, real people, and real play.

Aah, but what really made me write this post was that because of this rule, guess who's suffering the most - yours truly. I have to steal in my screen time to coincide with her naps - and most of that time goes in FBing and blogging, leaving little room for TV or movies :(. Your own rules come at a price, huh? Just when I thought I was "THE" parent and "I" would "MAKE THE RULES" :P. Sigh!


  1. Rightly said Yuvika. The ones paying are parents. Funny part is as he grew older,my son never took TV playing in background seriously and chooses to ignore it. Generally they will try to watch if you are too strict, if they know its easy to get to it, the lose interest soon. Have done that and seen with my now 22 mo imp.

    1. aah that maybe a good point - forbidden fruit is more wanted :)


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