In Defence of “Screen Time”

By Brandie Hadfield

This topic can be quite a doozy, and in the six-and-a-half years I have managed an Attachment Parenting forum, I tell you, this comes up as a heated topic, every single winter.

First off, these are simply my thoughts and do not reflect a position by Attachment Parenting International. I love that with API, the 8 principals are philosophies and not a strict set of specific rules.

Secondly, this has been a journey for me and we are all on our journeys, all at a chapter that is perfect for us at the moment. I’m not sure what our next chapter looks like or how my opinion may change.

I once wrote a blog about my “break up with TV” and I felt strongly at a time that it was a time waster (the average Canadian watches 22 hrs a week of TV), and that it infiltrated the creation of “real moments”. But I don’t feel that way anymore. When I wrote that blog post, I had stopped watching TV in response to following my sons cues. He is extremely sensitive to connection and even as an infant, if I tried to watch a bit of “How I Met Your Mother” while bouncing him during his witching hours, he would get even fussier. I learned I needed to be more inward and meditative and that music helped me get to the state energetically that I needed in order to help soothe my son. It felt disrespectful to have it on, for a long time, and for around 16 months it felt this way.

Now I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to have TV on, or to have some Netflix and nursing time. What I am saying is to read your child. If they aren’t affected then I don’t see harm in it. When Beau was a baby, I have such fond memories of getting through those trying bedtimes with two little ones with the assistance of Justin Bieber and Katy Perry music videos!

There are however plenty of articles stating the myriad of reasons a parent should avoid “screen time” at all costs. This topic tends to be divisive and I get the more flack with this one than I do with my stance of infant sleep and bedsharing. As with all things parenting, I say:

Trust your Gut, Also Question your Fear

Just like your mama gut knows when there is a food sensitivity… My mama gut knew there was an initial sensitivity to media, but as my eldest matured, TV and tablets became wonderful tools in our home. We snuggle and connect, and use it as just another storytelling tool, a vehicle to travel down pathways of interest, fun rabbit holes and so much more. The common fear is “addiction” or the stymying of intellect, but I feel it is very easy to build a bridge and connect with your child with technology. Just sit beside them. Comment on what you are watching or playing together. You will see that they will often pick “you” over the device, and transition over to life’s other offerings.

The common fear is “addiction” or the stymying of intellect, but I feel it is very easy to build a bridge and connect with your child with technology.

Are Screens Addictive?

Addictions are horrible things – they tear apart families and destroy careers. So let’s look at the issue of screens with your friend or partner. Let’s say, an adult is watching a ton of TV or playing video games, and a person in a budding relationship with that adult began trying to involve herself with this activity. She learned how to play, she tried to watch the shows together, chatted about it, cuddled… treating the person with genuine interest and actively finding out what they love about it and use as a springboard to more connection VS separation? Just a thought. At this point with my family, we are really loving our “family pile” time on the coach with snacks and cuddles, and then acting out the show with play, or changing the plot in satisfying ways.

Don’t Screens Stymie Creativity?

Waldorf has compelling arguments on this. That if a child is fed images of Disney princesses for example, that he or she wouldn’t be able to imagine a character, they would always need it fed to them. I was worried about that one for a time. But then I realized my husband… who never had limits on TV… is an artist! He is a sculptor for film and television. He has a wild imagination and the most creative problem solver I’ve ever met. He makes up stories all the time, is an awesome art photographer as well. His father is a retired artist and art teacher as well. I didn’t have TV limits either! And I can think up a princess. My children haven’t stopped being creative since having their favorite shows and even created their own YouTube channel.

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