Screen time is a hot issue nowadays. There’s no doubt that it’s an easy tool to use wrongly. Some parents view it as an easy babysitter. With a click of a button, your child can be easily pacified, hours upon end, glued to the screen until you decide to turn it off. And this can be tempting, especially in the life of a busy and overwhelmed mother… Oh, so tempting. Trust me, I know.
But, of course, we should know that letting anything take over our role as parent is wrong. The TV was not called to raise our children for us. That’s what we’re for. And if you’re willing to pass on the responsibility to someone else, there are others who will happily step in. Before you know it, PBS will be cheerfully explaining to your children how it’s perfectly normal for some kids to have two daddies and others to have two mommies.
As Christian parents, the life we’ve been called to lead our children in is a life of action. We should “talk to them when we’re sitting in our house, when we’re walking by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise” (Deuteronomy 11:19). Can the Christian life be taught effectively while sitting on the couch, watching TV all day? The answer is no. Definitely not.
So what’s the answer? Should we all toss our televisions? I believe in certain cases that may be necessary, especially in the case of addiction. For the 12-hours-a-day video game player, perhaps the tossing of the X-box is his way of ‘cutting off his right hand so he might not sin’. But for most of us, I think that reaction goes a bit too far.
This modern age has given us many gifts and opportunities, and with that certain problems our forefathers never faced. But just as the internet can be used for great edification or destruction, so I believe the TV is also a tool that can effectively be used for good or for evil. If we choose to pretend as a family that it does not exist, we could be missing out on a powerful gift God has given us to use wisely.
I think the answer lies in what is actually being let through the screen to your children. I much prefer movies to actual television because it’s easier to preview and approve what’s being shown again and again to your children. And don’t be deceived. What you show will get into your child’s head, but that can also be a good thing. If you are letting them watch shows where the kids are constantly showing disrespect to their parents, be prepared for your kids to start spouting the same. If, however, you’d like to teach them their shapes or colors, then this method works like a charm!
My toddler and I use plenty of hands-on puzzles and games to teach different preschool activities, but I promise nothing works as well for us as a little cartoon character prancing about on the screen and singing a few songs!
Also, when dealing with anything, I believe moderation is key. I let my toddler watch an educational movie every morning (on the ABC’s, colors, animals, etc), and then a just-for-fun story movie sometimes in the evenings (Beauty and the Beast, Prince of Egypt, etc).
What about family time, you say? Oh, we get family time in too, and obviously that takes preference. But, especially on evenings when my husband works evenings and we’ve had a long and productive day, I don’t feel at all bad letting Gabriel watch a movie for an hour and a half while I check my emails and do a bit of pinteresting. Stories, when chosen carefully, have good things to teach your children too.
That’s been our conclusion on the television’s time and place. What has your family worked out?