If your child is an iPad Genius and hogs your television and robs you of your phone at every possible moment of the day, you may be in deep deep trouble. We live in an age where devices make entertainment and screen time possible everywhere. Parents must take care to limit screen time and not to use it as a "pacifier" or nanny.
What trouble am I talking about?
"Rewarding distraction and low mental effort though entertainment will later influence a young person's commitment to school and perseverance in their studies." (1)
Trouble #1 You are possibly raising a child who will perform poorly in school
A child with an ipad/tablet/smart phone is a common sight at shopping malls and restaurants. Parents are accustomed to using screens as a distraction tool to help keep their children calm and quiet. What's wrong with this? A simple equation can help us understand this...
1. Fussy/Noisy child (should be learning self-control) BUT ----> Use ipad/screen
2. Child learns, Fussy and bored or noisy = Rewarded with entertainment
3. Entertainment on screens are a distraction + requires little mental effort
4. In actual fact, parents are rewarding their kids when they are distracted and put in little mental effort.
All this results in? The child will want distraction (entertainment) when faced with tasks that require higher cognitive effort & self-control (e.g. studying/learning in class)
There are many ways we can help a child learn to keep calm and quiet during meal times or when we are busy grocery shopping. Some ways we can do it are
1.Involve them in our daily chores
2. Have meal-time conversations together (keep our own eyes away from the screen)
3. A good mix of reward, punishment and encouragement can help your child have self-control and learn to WAIT PATIENTLY, QUIETLY and behave at meal times.
It is easy to use a screen to solve the immediate need for silence and calm behaviour but it brings about some long-term problems. It is POSSIBLE to have well-behaved children without the screen's help!
Our next post: How much screen time is too much screen time?
Vincent & Debra Kwan, Founders of Hiro & Jack and stay-at-home parents with the odd life.