I went to sleep early last night but, at exactly 2pm, woke up to a thought attacking my head, making my eyes pop right open: should my baby have more screen time???
Yes, you read it right – somewhere in my subconsciousness I worried that my 2.9 year old is being left to TOO MUCH free play, by giving her NO screen time?
Is she missing out, not on the trends of Elsa and Let it go and all that jazz, but the joy of engaging in some fascinating stories and having a bit of fun with animations, like some of her friends do?
(This is very much related to an ongoing self-debate on whether she should go to Disneyland on a regular basis - as the theme park is only half hour away from us).
Am I making her more bored than she deserves because of my belief that boredom leads to more creativity (as i observed from my own childhood and from seeing how less advantaged rural kids play)?
Am I hindering her development?
(2am hyperactive brain starting a monologue).
Knowing I would not able to fall back to sleep, I woke up to browse around a bit. Here it is, an answer from the New York Times, thrown at me by my Facebook newsfeed.
It talks about a Silicon Valley dad who wants to re-create the fun adventures he had had during his childhood, so he built what he dubbed as a “playborhood” – “a version of American kid life featured in shows like “The Little Rascals” and “Leave It to Beaver”.
Kids get to build forts and ride bikes outside, unsupervised — free, skirting danger, "but ultimately always lucky”.
All fine and good (and I am of the “anti-helicopter parenting” camp too). One point I didn't like, though, was his misogynic view of the world where boys are entitled to, and expected to, express precarious behaviors and aggression to grow up male (girls were not mentioned because the dad doesn't have any daughter).
In addition, as most parents who commented underneath, and even the author herself, express: I will not risk the chance of my kid falling from the rooftop, no matter how small that chance is.
But judgment aside, it’s also a very interesting article that reflects the tension facing our generation of parents: When it comes to play, do we go forward or backward?
Do we engineer for them a childhood reminiscent of our own – with lesser “stuff”and more child play experiences independent from "stuff"? (I say “engineer” because it has to be a conscious effort -- we'd have to consciously stop ourselves from inadvertently too many cheap, unneeded things for them)
Or, do we look forward and apply the latest research and technologies to ensure they are ahead of the game?
I am obviously of the first camp (as you can tell from what I want to offer in my toy shop). But I do sometimes wonder if and when i need to prepare for the future and teach her 21st century skills, like using tech gadgets effortlessly or coding fluently. When should all this start?
I didn't have the answer to the Disneyland and screen time question before being dragged back to bed by a crying baby. But i did go back to sleep with a comfort knowing that I am not alone.
As the article and subsequent comments show, many parents, including this dad in the article, are like me – missing my own childhood fun and wishing to create that same sense of simplicity for our own children.
Maybe we adults should have a playdate and “prototype” (or “simulate”) how it would look like for children of this generation to have our experience, by replaying it? Just a thought 🙂