Bar Taco was packed, as usual, but we got a table along the outer wall. I grabbed the comfy bench and sat facing Mark and the animated crowd inside. Standing next to me, on the bench that ran the entire length of the wall, was a toddler. She was happily playing on an iPad while the three women at her table chatted and laughed. Over Mark’s shoulder, I saw the back of a baby sitting in a high chair. He must have been around eighteen months. His parents sat across from each other enjoying a quiet, relaxed conversation.
As our dinner progressed my interest in the relaxed couple also progressed. Perhaps it was because they were right behind Mark yet I couldn’t help but notice how chill they were and how quiet the child was. They finished dinner and then ordered dessert. I was impressed. My babies were so active that dessert was never an option unless I wanted to eat that first and skip dinner. The couple’s leisurely chat continued as the dad occasionally spooned a little bit of ice cream into the child’s mouth.
The child never looked up. No eye contact. No squeal of delight at the cold, yummy treat. He was distracted. By this time, Mark had paid. We got up and passed the baby. The iPhone lay on the table and his chubby little finger was swiping the screen while his eyes followed image after image.
Has your child taken a bite of the forbidden Apple?
This post is not about guilt. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a peaceful night out. This post is about an innovation in technology, that has altered our behavior, and changed how we interact with children. It is about thinking ahead before we fall behind on what is good for our children.
The Growing Concern about Exposure to Media
Having just celebrated the iPhone’s 10th Anniversary, it is difficult to fully assess the effect of something on child development when the children exposed are still developing. But doctors are concerned and I have provided The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations and a link to the Media and Young Minds study below.
The AAP’s study is vitally important because it will back up what I think you already know in your heart. You are a mom. Think about what you innately know is best for your child. Is it better for your child to be looking in your eyes or at your phone? Is it better for your child to be playing using large and small motor skills or sitting watching TV? Is it better for your child to be trained or entertained?
The Apple Irony
As I sat at Bar Taco and panned the room, everywhere I looked I saw apples. Apples on shiny silver devices. Apples with terabytes of knowledge flowing through them–knowledge about everything and everyone. Apples with a big bite out of them. Surely, God has an enormous sense of humor. Eve took a bite of the apple. She was tempted by the promise that the fruit would make her knowledgeable. And it did. Her eyes were opened. She was given knowledge but it was painful.
Has your child taken a bite of the apple? Are they loving the shiny device and the knowledge it provides more than the life around them? Are you protecting their mind from information, images, and entertainment that will harm them, delay their development, and distract them from relationships?
I know you are busy and tired and sometimes it is just so tempting to hand them a screen. But I also know that you love your child and want the best for them. I know it is hard to be a mom but I want you to have the knowledge to choose wisely. I don’t want you to be surprised like Eve–that the apple had more to it than she was told.
The AAP recommendations from the 2016 Media and Young Minds study
- Children younger than 18 months: avoid the use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
- Children ages 2 to 5 years: limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
- Children ages 6 and older: place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity, and other behaviors essential to health.
To help you track your kid’s media time The American Academy of Pediatrics has created an online Family Media Planning Tool. If you are looking for something simpler try iMOM’s printable Screen Time Tracker.