Let’s just get something out there. I don’t think screens are ruining my children. We control screen time but I want to make a stand that 30 minutes a day is a little high and mighty for a recommended value. I’m not saying let them zone out for hours. Hell that’s just dumb. My kids are fucking assholes when they have had too much. But I want to note all the good things screens can give these kids. So many reports come out about us not “looking up” and whatever and I’m just kind of sick of them. The shaming is a bit much. If you can’t see the good technology can bring, buy a farm and just go off the grid. Then maybe you will stop annoying your friends with Facebook game requests. I get there is a happy balance we are all going to struggle with over time. But for every time guilt slips in from answering an email in front of my kids, I remember how technology can bring math to life for my 4 year old and make my toddler understand what germs are.
Our boys are allowed devices in the car on our commute(20-30min). This started when Landon was maybe 2 and I upgraded my iPhone. He got my old one (i discussed this here). Since then the devices have shuffled around and now Landon has Kevin’s old iPad (some of his learning games are just better on there) and Ollie has an old iPod touch. This brings peace to us all. They get some down time to decompress from a day of sharing and rules and we get to talk as parents (carpool). It works for us. Then when we get home, devices off. They can be taken away if there were bad days or bad attitudes but it’s usually a constant.
Landon is currently into Pokemon thanks to his wonderful cousin Aly. While this show is mind boggling annoying to me, I have found his fascination with the taxonomy of Pokemon riveting. Bear with me here. Watching him understand how these things evolve and how they do different things is actually kind of brilliant. He has always liked animals and this moves a little more abstract but I can see that relation. Each episode he gets to learn about a new one or how that one changed. Then retaining that knowledge and retelling. It’s pretty impressive. Fuck, I can’t keep up with Game of Thrones characters so hats off, little buddy. Point is, even in something silly, I think he is gaining a skill.
Now Ollie is fully engrossed in Yo Gabba Gabba now. I mean really what toddler doesn’t get into it. It is a LSD trip of color and sound for them. Landon was the same way at his age (so much so that I am reusing a birthday theme!). And while the AAP recommends no screens before 2, BWHAHAHAHAHAHA. Our big revelation was Ollie’s love for music videos…so this was a natural progression. So ok he loves bright colors and sounds…whoopee right? But we have a book about getting clean from the Gabba friends and he seems to be retaining what we read. We ask him what we do when we have germs and he will dramatically act out washing his hands. I even asked him if he wanted a party in his tummy and he said “SO YUMMY SO YUMMY”. So he isn’t learning algebra but something is sticking.
OK maybe I try and look into these things a bit much. After hours of watching these kid’s shows (sometimes the same fucking episode), you start nit picking it. It’s not the first time. I mean I have entire tirade of the messed up shit on Sodor. Curious George is a terrible role model. How can WordGirl’s parents REALLY not know it’s her. I mean, c’mon. Well I recently got a chance to voice my overanalysis of all things kid related on Raleighco.com‘s new segment Deconstructing Disney. Goal is to do just that: nit pick and pull apart concepts in Disney films. I got to join James and WXMoose to discuss Finding Nemo. When I started to think about it, I couldn’t really find much snark but I did find this film hit me in the parenting feels. Heck I barely made it 5 minutes into the movie before asking “Would I dart like Coral to save my kids?”.
So go take a listen and let me know your thoughts. Would you?