Monday 2 November 2015


Life is a continual learning curve with children. I've learnt so much about my strengths and weaknesses, and my values. For more than 12 years we haven't had a television in our home. And even though I've had moments of questioning this decision - usually on movie nights or when the children were at the stage of dropping sleeps and tired and cranky in the afternoons - I'm glad I've persevered.

For all of our children, we've avoided screen time in the first two years of their life after reading several studies on the detrimental effect of brain development during this period. Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina is an interesting example. And following on from this age, we've tried to cap screen time to two hours maximum a day. But while we might reach this limit if we watch a film, we don't come near this on a daily basis.

When our son was younger we went through a stage of letting him watch an hour or so of children's films or programs (via ABC for Kids online) on our laptop when he stopped having a midday nap at age two. At the time it seemed like the best solution as it would pacify him for a little while otherwise he would get frustrated because he was tired and couldn't concentrate on other tasks. Also, we sometimes let him watch programs when our second child came along, and I needed to focus on settling a newborn to sleep.

However, once she got to the age that they could play together, our reliance on screens slipped away altogether. While we had never had an excessive reliance on them, it felt good that they weren't a regular part of our lives. Soon afterwards I deleted the few kids "educational" apps I had on my phone and decided that it was only a tool for my work, and not a toy. That felt good too.

Now that there are three children actively playing in our home, they hardly ever watch films or kids programs. It's been interesting to observe because each one of them has progressively watched less than the previous child to the point that the youngest actually has no interest in films when they are on. She's up and down on her seat and in and out of the room.

And the other two hardly request to watch anything either. They are usually too busy playing.

Of course, there are days when the lure of the screen appeals - usually when I'm not feeling well, or I'm tired or perhaps parenting solo, but I often realise that it's for me, not for them. And I think that's okay, too. But it's interesting to observe why we make these decisions.

Yesterday, while my husband was doing some DIY on the house, the thought crossed my mind that I might suggest a movie. However, by the time I had cleaned up after lunch all of the children were playing together upstairs. Shortly afterwards they called out to me to see what they had created. It was a "scene" for the youngest to play in. It really made me so glad that I'd given them the opportunity to find some way to occupy themselves. It was one of those beautiful moments as a parent, and one that made me realise that, for now at least, when their imagination seems to be in full flight, our life is better without screens.

image the indigo crew   

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the last story. Very cute. It is so true that life is so much better without screens especially when their imagination flies. We also do not have a TV and on long flights we let Mila watch some kids shows but she lost interest after a very short time. But I do think about animal documentaries a lot recently and how much they influenced me as a child and they are simply more "impressive" to watch on a TV rather than the laptop in our lap.