Screen Time Doesn't Have to Be the Enemy
One quick look at this Google Trends graphic and it's easy to see that "screen time" hasn't always been such a hot button topic. Nowadays, it seems like everyone is making recommendations about the amount, frequency and age appropriateness of all things screen related. More often than not, the advice is limit, limit, limit. And while I'd much rather see my kids outside jumping on the trampoline or riding their bikes than watching a movie, I believe that is important to emphasize quality over quantity.
We don't track screen time. I have no idea how much time my kids are looking at a screen each week. I can't stand it when Isaac watches videos of other people playing with their new toys (if you make these videos, please stop. Stop it now.), but I'm sure he'd be just as confused if he saw me crying uncontrollably over a fictional storyline every week (In my defense, This is Us has been laying it on kind of thick lately).
Screen time really doesn't have to be the enemy. There are plenty of ways to incorporate screens in a good way, an educational way. Here are just a few of the ways you'll find us utilizing screens in our home:
Flight Simulator-This is a huge hit in our house. My husband used to fly helicopters for a living and has recently considered dipping back into the world of aviation. So of course that means we needed a realistic set-up. I was skeptical at first, but the boys love it. With a child that is very interested in space aviation, I can't imagine spending time looking at the mock-up of different cockpits is really a bad thing.
Movies/Documentaries-There are no shortage of documentaries out there, so find one that aligns with your child's interest and enjoy! We recently watched Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo and loved it. Since 2009, Disneynature has released films in recognition of Earth Day. We are excited for the latest feature, Dolphins. For a treat we also enjoy checking out IMAX films. The great thing about IMAX theaters is that they are oftentimes located at museums!
Video Games-Did you know that there is an entire curriculum based on Mine Craft?! After watching my boys play (and stealing a few turns myself), it's easy to see why. Hello problem solving! Hello spatial relationships! Hello critical thinking! What a neat way to introduce perimeter, area, proportions! Math. Everywhere. (Here is a pretty cool video on how to make a basketball court. I was impressed.)
Television-Our kids love hockey and basketball. They play a lot of each. Watching your favorite team or player excelling in a sport you love can't help but rub off on your knowledge and understanding of the game. And hopefully, this encourages them to get up and practice said sport. Television shows can help with foreign language acquisition. A friend of ours tells his kids absolutely, they can watch cartoons...in Spanish. Parenting Level: Expert
YouTube Videos/Apps-YouTube videos (We like SciShow Kids) and educational apps such as Starfall and ABC Mouse can be used to support children's learning and spark conversations about their interests. This is a good thing. If it helps, consider these apps to be "digital worksheets" that reinforce kwowledge and provide meaningful practice. Then there are apps like Sky Guide that are just plain fun and spark curiosity.
Screens aren't going anywhere. More and more of our lives are being compacted into portable devices and our children should be efficient in manipulating these devices. The trick is to monitor and use them in moderation. One day soon, coding classes will be as common as typing classes were decades ago.