Updated: Jul 21, 2020
I’ll start this blog with a full-on confession: sometimes I am afraid that I am raising two future screen addicts. There, I’ve said it. Every time I observe my kids watching a video, I get a bit frightened. I watch these obsessed faces, big eyeballs staring at the screen. The dread increases when I tell them that this will be the last episode. This fear is made worse when I turn the TV off and my kids turn into little monsters: screaming, crying, and looking intensely upset. Yes, these are the moments when I fear technology; when I fear that I am raising two future screen addicts. And my kids are only 5 and 4 years old.
Where does this come from? Well, maybe because I know from experience how addictive and bad the digital world can be . . . not only for your physical health like your eyesight, neck and back but also for your mental health. There is a lot of scientific research that advises parents to limit their kids’ screen time so that they can build healthy relationship with their families and their mental and physical selves.
For me, the problem is that I feel in some way powerless against the screens. It is something I am very conscious about, and at the same time is has offered itself as an outstanding digital nanny. I know this is a very sensitive topic that can cause anger, fears and confusion. However, it is also a topic I feel we have to be mindful about. To really think we should trust ourselves when our gut is telling us that it is not ok, especially in regard to screen time.
In our house, we have decided to establish some rules to deal with digital guilt, such as only watching Netflix on the weekends for a maximum of 40 minutes. So, that’s 20 minutes per child; each deciding on a show to watch. This gives me and my husband time to sit or clean something while having a decent conversation.
I know that many parents use digital options when they need to work, get something done around the house, or they are tired and do not always feel like engaging with their children 24/7. Screen time can give both the kids and parents a bit of a break. However, what I have found in my own experience is that nature can also give this much needed break.
Nature engages all of my kid’s senses. It calms them down and offers unstructured playtime. I love watching them play. Nature not only helps my kids recharge but also me. I feel so much better after spending time in nature with my kids. I also feel so much better that my kids are making positive memories . . . something that screen time does not offer them. I want my kids to experience the natural world as much as possible in their younger years, so they will always have these memories and more importantly a place where they know they can go to recharge.
Finding the right balance between the digital and natural world is challenging . . . but what about parenthood isn’t? I find it reassuring that nature is always there for my kids and family anytime we need to recharge our batteries and would encourage anyone who is questioning their own screen time habits to change things up and try nature. I’m sure you too will see the exponential advantages.