Wednesday 22 March 2017

10 reasons why we allow screen time

The man and I are big users of our handheld phones, anyone else is. Largely because we work with it! Emails, messages, social media, apps, directory, photo editing etc. falls conveniently into one common device today. I'm wowed and in awed of how fast we have progress, and how human's lives get smarter each day.

In short, I am spurred to spill my thoughts on this article I read (10 reasons why handheld devices should be banned for children under 12). While we are always taught to discern the writing of an article, this doesn't quite make sense to me. In sum, the writer is all against children below 12 using handheld devices.

Why am I concern? Because my older kids, 6 and 8 are allowed on my handheld devices! The key point is, limited screen time. While some parents are TOTALLY against it, I give my take on why we do have screen time on our laptop and devices. CONTROLLED.

1. Digital news. News is now presented in digital technology. We do not subscribe to the physical copy of newspaper anymore. We moved to getting the digital copy and read it off the tablet or laptop. I show the kids relevant and interesting articles from whatever device I'm using.

2. Apps. We have apps that read stories, create fun photos/videos, directories, dictionaries and many others. Choosing a valuable app is yet another story. Games, yes, we have. And our kids are allowed to game with us, with controlled usage. I have to mention, playing certain games are actually good for that reaction time and finger motor skill. I don't think we are the only family who plays Pokemon with our kids.

3. e-learning. Having the daughter hopped into primary school last year, my mind grew even more open with her handling our laptop and tablet. There are IT lessons in school that teaches much on IT and internet safety, as well as homework that requires the use of software and online research.

4. We teach them to research using online search engines. We've come to a point where Dad and Mum are beyond their convenient encyclopedia. And Yes, we do have a concern of Internet safety. We rely much on Kiddle and the purchase of Norton to keep them safe. The latter shows us what the kids did online if we happen to not be around. Though I highly avoid leaving them alone with the devices.


Norton Family Software

5. I often show articles of what I, as a Mum is unable to convince, but the Internet is. Which means, it's another opportunity for us to learn how to discern fake and genuine news, facts and opinions, sources and credibility. Along the years, kids may trust us, family for news, but they will still prefer scooping it from social media or other online sources. Teach them to discern.

6. Learning. Js very much love to draw. We use videos for tutorials. The World of YouTube videos is endless! From tutorials to a bunch of trashy stuff, you can find them all. A better platform for them to surf and give parents that peace of mind would be YouTube Kids. Launched in Singapore last November, this apps throws out only family friendly videos and is almost safe for child's usage.

YouTube Kids

You have no idea how frustrated I have been with YouTube and their load of crappy suggested videos one after another. Explicit, inappropriate and trashy I would say. Glad YouTube kids was introduced!

7. All genre of content and media can be played on any device, TV, phone, tablet or laptop. Sometimes, it seems more acceptable for kids to be on the TV or laptop, but not handheld devices. Yes, in that sense the former has larger fonts and images, which are less taxing on those eyes. If not, it boils down to how each device is used and what content they are ingesting.

8. I am very assured that screening will never replace my role of active parenting. We would always choose to play and communicate the human way.

9. Demonstrate good habits as adults. There are various ways to adopt, we avoid using and walking with our handheld devices, we try to remember putting screens away when communicating, we prioritise tasks and we don't get addicted to gaming.

10. Reality. The thing about parenting today with digital technology is that we don't have our own experience to go back to and look at. We have progressed. Rapidly.

The critical question is not how to totally ban or avoid, but what to screen, how much to screen and how to interpret media. For as long as we can guide them. 

Internet is a Big World out there, media and online safety begins at home and in school. Always:
1. Be present to know what they are doing
2. Limit time

The only time we are unable to limit now, is e-learning from school. School's expectations, no? Sometimes, the assignments can be so time consuming that all you need to remember is resting that mind and eyes.

When do you start?
Introduction of devices is a gradual process. Some may start real young (recommended age is above 2 years old) and some would delay it as much as possible. I think if kids are already making good sense of the surroundings, getting inquisitive and reading almost well, why not use devices and technology to explore the bigger world?

We know it's highly damaging when a child games all day long, or watch a meaningless cartoon or drama for hours. Develop good screening habits from young. Let them know that there is a limit to it, and they can't abscond with it.

While there are meaningless videos, there are also educational videos like documentaries.

Screen time can be of quality and should be limited. The full liberty should only be given when a child knows exactly how to priortise work, rest and play appropriately. And importantly, deal with Internet and social media safely.

Common sense screening is for everyone. It has not made my children abandon reading physical books, throw extreme tantrums for taking the screen away, feel lost without an alternative to screening or result in lesser family bonding moments.

It helps widen their perspectives and not suppress their curiosity.

Open mindedness
While we do not use these devices to pacify or induce our kids to stay seated or finish their meals, I am not adverse with parents doing so. We do not fight the same battle. I use it desperately on shopping trips during vacations, when the kids get restless. When Mum shops, anything that works, is in.

Perhaps, the next time we see a family with their kid's eyes fixed on that screen, we should be slow to react, clam to process and avoid judgement. It does not instantly interpret as a less loving parent. There's always a story to every behind the scene.

The world is evolving, quoting Jazz, "Humans may extinct when robots take over!" Children of today will have to be comfortable and smart with technology of various forms. Board games may get digital, textbooks may all fall into a single device (Yay to lighter school bags!), as well as many other smart possibilities out there! It really is almost impossible to go back to the simple days of playing 5 stones or catching longkang fish. Children are our future, so is technology.

The debate never ends, but this is the digital story of our family. 


  1. Wonderful sharing! I agree with all that you have mentioned. Digital era has evolved so fast in the last decade.

  2. I was totally against digital usage for kids, until my eldest turned 2 and became a big brother. The iPad was my most trustworthy helper at that time and helped me to entertain the boy. I will try out youtube kids, thank you for that recommendation! :) Conquer with everything you have said. This is my third baby too and really, every baby is just so different. Though my eldest is only 4, it seems I am learning everything all over again. One tip I have for new mummies is, join facebook/whatsapp groups with people who have the same EDD as you. Your babies reach similar milestones together and it helps to have someone who totally understands you to reach out to. Also, these people are up all night as well so there's always someone to chat with in the middle of the night! :) Vivien ( Beautiful Chaos )

    1. Yes! Youtube kids is a much safer platform to screen, do try! Thanks for the tip! I did join a Mummy group for my third's age group, it really is a helpful space to share anything about the baby.

  3. Great sharing indeed and we share the same view as you too! Yeah, technology is the future, we can prevent them from using too much from it but can't really totally avoid it. There's a great deal of information in there and we are sure bound to turn to the internet for the resources.

    1. So true! It really is tough to totally avoid when even some preschools and primary schools are using it as a teaching medium.

  4. I also allow screen time for kids. Resistance is futile. It's impossible to ban phone/tablet for kids when the adults at home spend so much time on it. The only thing we can do to ensure the 'right' usage is through monitoring and limiting usage time.

  5. So agree on you saying, resistance is futile. Since they are curious, it's probably best to explore together and educate on the right usage. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Like you have rightly pointed out, I believe a limited amount of screen time is beneficial. The key word is limited - and not using them as babysitters - since the amount of educational information the kids can get online is much more than what many parents can offer. Parents can help the kids to pick up good screening habits from young. I've had students whose parents didn't set clear guidelines and inculcate good habits so once the children hit secondary school, they become uncontrollable and so many problems arise. It's sad to know that the parents are helpless too.

    - Mary

    1. Love your thoughts from the perspective of a teacher. Serves as a reminder to be extremely cautious and firm on cultivating good habits and limits. It really is easier and better to start early.

  7. Digital devices are here to stay, and it's not something we can deny. What we do need to remember is to avoid the digital divide trap - that's where our relationships would be affected. My 3 year old would also ask to watch YouTube or browse photos on my phone. It's hard to always say "no" when I'm looking at my mobile most of the time for work. Agree about setting limits and putting control in place! Guess this is one more area to manage for most parents this era! :p

    1. My kids like to browse photos from my phone too! If I'm on it, it teaches them to wait or accept 'no' as an answer. It's true, we should spend more thoughts in managing kids and gadgets, rather than totally abstaining from it. Do try at YouTube kids, it's a better platform for your 3 year old.


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