“Screen Time” Is The Best Babysitter I’ve Ever Had
A recent New York Times story posed the question “Is E-Reading To Your Toddler Story Time, Or Simply Screen Time?” It turns out that – surprise, surprise – screens might not be great for our kids. But guess what? I’m gonna keep letting my kids use them anyway because “screen time” is a f**cking lifesaver.
While there’s not a ton of data surrounding the effects of e-reading on toddlers, the NYT says that a recent study “found that children ages 3 to 5 whose parents read to them from an electronic book had lower reading comprehension than children whose parents used traditional books. Part of the reason, they said, was that parents and children using an electronic device spent more time focusing on the device itself than on the story.”
In short: books and human interaction – reading and learning with an actual person – are much better for our kids than plopping them down in front of a screen. Says Kyle Snow, the applied research director at the National Association for the Education of Young Children, “There’s the possibility for e-books to become the TV babysitters of this generation. We don’t want parents to say, ‘There’s no reason for me to sit here and turn pages and tell my child how to read the word, because my iPad can do it.’”
Do parents like this exist? Sure. But I’d argue that most of us who allow screen time in our homes are involved and engaged with our kids. I read to both my kids every day. But you know what else I need to do? Clean the house, do laundry, and make dinner. And you know what helps me accomplish those things? My babysitter Screen Time.
Screen Time is entertaining and charming. Screen Time is educational – it’s taught my kids to read and count. Screen Time keeps my kids quiet and occupied for precious minutes so that I can get things done. And you know the best part about Screen Time? It doesn’t cost $15-20 an hour.
Thankfully there is a parent, Claudia Raleigh, quoted in the piece, who wisely pipes up to add that for her, the iPad is “a lifesaving device.” Says Claudia, “I literally read to my kids every day since birth,” she said. “I’m over feeling guilty about a little screen time.”
You know what? I’m over feeling guilty about a lot of screen time too. Screen time happens in my house for practical reasons, but also so I can sit down for five minutes and relax. Screen time may not be the best for my kids, but sometimes it’s what is best for me.