TV doesn’t rot your brain.
I had a discussion the other day about screen time for babies, toddlers, and kids. The general consensus of the group was “absolutely not.” I stuck out like a sore thumb because I was honest about my opinion on the matter: I don’t actually think it’s all that bad.
When I was a kid, I was always told that TV would rot my brain. I was told it was a waste of time and that I should be playing outside or using my imagination instead. When Gameboys came around, I had one. But I was again led to believe that playing on it would somehow kill brain cells. Tablets weren’t a thing yet, and computers were around but they weren’t all that enticing – the internet was excruciatingly slow and my imagination was more colourful than the games available.
So, being a person who had access to screen time from a young age, I can say with confidence that my brain is fully intact and functional. I don’t have socialization issues, I have no issues paying attention, and I’m not too bad at multitasking. My brother (who had more screen time than I did as a kid) is also doing fine.
Technology is everywhere nowadays. I worked very closely with a remedial school; every classroom had a smart board, multiple computers, and one tablet for every two kids. The kids I worked with were always being sent home with assignments that were to be handed in electronically, and impossible to complete without using the internet. I’m sure there are exceptions, but it is definitely the norm nowadays for technologically to be used as a teaching component in classrooms.
Classrooms are not the only place that rely on technology. When searching for a job, a great many postings will list Excel, Word, and PowerPoint as proficiencies required for the position. There are a huge amount of jobs that rely completely on social networking. Email is one of the most commonly used forms of communication in the workplace. Even job searching itself is now mostly done on the internet (although my parents are still firm believers in going door-to-door with a stack of resumes).
Socialization is also now heavily reliant on technology. A person could argue that texting, FaceTime, Snapchat, or Facebook are not really forms of communication. But they are – they all involve a back and forth between two or more people for the purpose of sending a message. Just because it looks different than when we were kids doesn’t mean it’s not real.
My point is that technology is everywhere. It’s a huge part of our lives, and when our children are grown it’s going to be an even bigger part of theirs. There’s no point in trying to shield our children from screens, because it’s highly likely that our kids are going to be in front of some sort of a screen for the rest of their lives. Unless you plan to live in a cave deep in the forest with no contact to the outside world, it’s simply just not realistic to expect that your child won’t be exposed to technology in some form.
That being said, I am not an advocate of using the TV, tablet, or Xbox as a babysitter for your child. I believe it’s smart to teach your kid how to use technology, but that doesn’t mean I believe it should be used as a crutch, or as a replacement for good old fashioned face-to-face interaction. As with pretty much everything in life, I think screen time should be used in moderation. You can still teach your kid to play catch, ride a bike, and play a board game without feeling guilty about having a family movie night, watching Saturday morning cartoons, or laughing at fail videos on YouTube together. Technology is a part of life whether you like it or not, and if you shield your kid completely from it, they’re going to grow up with a disadvantage. And they’ll probably be a weirdo, too.
Just remember guys, our goal is to raise our children to be better, smarter, happier, and stronger than we were. If we raise them in the dark, they’re not going to grow up to be all that they could be. We want them to succeed in this world, so it’s our responsibility to teach them how – even if the rules have changed since we were kids.