Why I am Ok with Screen Time… Sometimes
Screen time gets a bad rap, for sure. And there is some good reason for it. My daughter starts watching YouTube Kids and is completely zoned out for however long she is allowed to watch it. I mean, a bomb could go off - she would have NO idea.
According to “The Common Sense Census,” American children ages 0 to 8 use screen media for an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes each day. It makes sense - she will watch 30-45 minutes of YT Kids when she gets home from school for a brain break and then most evenings, we'll get a family show or movie in before bed. It might not be the full two hours but it's still quite a bit of time that's not being focused on other things.
At first, I thought the shows on Youtube Kids were weird and dumb. She would rather watch other kids playing with toys and making up stories than the multi-million dollar well researched entertainment produced by various media companies? WHY?! And she's not alone - this kid makes about $11 MILLION a year reviewing and playing with toys on YouTube.
Insanity, I know...
But, then I really started paying attention to the content of what she was watching and what she decided to DO with what she learned. She likes four topics: pretend play, toy reviews, DIY, and drawing.
I first noticed the pretend play. She'd watch other kids playing with Barbies and dolls and making up elaborate plot lines. It wasn't long until her little imagination followed suit. I've heard wild adventures about Barbie and her friends riding horses into space, school conflicts, friends going camping, and other tales. Much like I watched Mr. Rogers playing with puppets in the early Eighties, she has learned how to use her imagination to come up with fantastical stories starring her own toys. And bonus - the kids who make these videos do a pretty good job about putting together a solid story line with a moral at the end.
Second, the DIY and drawing. My daughter goes in cycles on these topics. She calls them her "lessons." She basically takes lessons on how to make things and draw (for free.) And then she practices them on her own. Last night, she snagged an old egg crate and made her Barbies a laptop computer, cell phone, waffle maker, and other tiny objects. It was super cute. And, her drawing has improved dramatically. I mean... she was six when she drew this!
Finally, the toy reviews. What kid doesn't want all the toys in the world? She's no exception but when she watches these toy reviews, she kinda gets them out of her system. She enjoyed them and has moved on. And when she does ask for something she saw and REALLY liked, I know she's "done her homework." It's kind of like teaching her how to research and critically think about each piece of something. Sounds like I'm reading into this a little much? Watch a toy review - they talk about the colors, shapes, weight, textures, and every other detail you can imagine.
So, yes... of course we limit screen time. And we monitor what she watches. But, it's not all bad. And if she can learn something from it, I'm all for it.
Oh, and recently I've even heard her watching this Youtube series about influential women of history. Yeah... how awesome is this?