The American Academy of Pediatrics recently conducted a study which recommends that children under the age of 18 months be permitted no screen time – that includes television, movies, computers, smartphones, and tablets.
Strange, it’s almost as if nobody at the AAP has had kids yet…
According to the report, “Parents who want to see their children become happier and more well-adjusted socially are better off severely limiting their exposure to smartphones and tablets.”
Forget about the children, what about parents who want to become happier and more well-adjusted socially? Have they ever been on a packed bus with a screaming, teething toddler who isn’t interested anymore in munching quietly on breadsticks? Academics like this need to look around the world in which they live, see all the stressed out, time poor parents who need any respite they can find…and shut the f*ck up.
From iPhones and flats screen TVs to tablets, Kindles and laptops, we stare at electronic rectangles of various shapes and sizes from the moment we wake until the time we press standby on the remote (or sleep on the laptop if you’re a Millennial and eschew clunky old TVs). This is the world we live in. We’re screen-addicted drones. We can’t fight it. Unless we want to live a Henry Thoreau-type existence whittling in the woods, this is modern life; rubbish or not.
Once she’s bored with reading, it’s Toy Story time!
So for any concerned parents reading this, allow me to describe the screen time that my daughter Martha is exposed to on a typical day at home with mum and dad:
VERY first thing: Naturally, Martha wakes up well before the alarm in the morning, so we bring her into our bed, and she gets to watch Peppa Pig compilations on the mobile* until the alarm goes off. This keeps her (a) content and (b) still and also allows us to maintain a degree of physical contact with her. Most importantly though, we can snooze for a few minutes – one can’t underestimate how important those all-to-brief moments of semi-unconsciousness are to a tired parent.
*Yes thank you, there is sufficient light in the room so as not to damage her eyes.
Breakfast: At present, to get Martha to stay still in a highchair means overloading her with Cow and Gate, and then sitting her in front of Channel 5’s Milkshake. This placates her for just long enough to stick some porridge in her gob before she starts squirming, crying and spitefully dropping bits of food onto the floor.
Lunch: (see ‘breakfast’)
Afternoon: This all depends on the weather. If we’re lucky enough that it isn’t pissing down outside, Martha will get to play in nearby Ally Pally, running off all her excess energy with great abandon. However, if it’s inclement weather and all other avenues of entertainment have been exhausted, The Jungle Book is coming on, and I don’t care who knows it. Most of the time, the TV is background anyway, while she’s busy dropping my keys down the toilet or playing with the bottle of bleach that’s hidden under the kitchen sink.
Supper: (See ‘lunch’)
Watching television AND playing, is this allowed?
So in summary then, plenty of screen time. Are we bad parents? Am we f*ck. Anyway, most of Martha’s day is spent running about like a drunken dwarf, reading or playing with toys – one of which is a bloody Peppa Pig laptop that teaches her about numbers and colours FFS! You’re telling me that isn’t allowed?!
And forget it if I’m home alone on baby duty with a hangover; the TV will be running all three Toy Story films back-to-back. Sue me!