Recently, a friend of mine openly admitted that they don’t own a television, any computers or any other type of technology, apart from one single smart phone. Their home has one parent and two children, and I was shocked to hear that her children never watch TV or spend time online. The Mum spends a fair amount of time on social media but the children essentially have zero contact with technology, TV and films, on a daily basis. In 2017, it’s a rare occurrence for families to not be exposed to the ever-growing world of tech.
This got me thinking about how different my little family are. I’m a Dad to a 2.5-year-old toddler and my son is always watching or using some sort of device. As a family, we own a laptop, computer, three smartphones, a tablet and two televisions. We also own a few game consoles. Joshua has access to the tablet, both televisions and a smartphone for when we are travelling or not home. I’m the first one to say that he probably does watch too much TV but there is a reason why I allow it. But first, here’s a bit of a glimpse into my son’s routine.
Joshua will wake up at around 7:00-7:30am and he will run into our bedroom and ask for the TV to be turned on. If we have time, we let him watch a bit of TV before we get up. On the days he’s at preschool, he won’t watch TV until gone midday, but on the days he’s at home he will watch TV from 7:30am until 7:00pm – with regular breaks to play with his toys or going outside.
The reason why I allow him to watch so much TV is because it has been helping him with his speech and communication problems, as well as teaching him sign language. For over a year now, I’ve been noticing declines in his learning. When he was 18 months old he would count from 1 to 5, but these days he is only just re-learning 1 to 3. Ever since I started allowing him to watch a variety of TV shows and films, there has been a clear improvement in his development.
Technology has been a welcomed source of learning for my son and for that, I’m so thankful. But, yes, I’m so aware that you can expose them to far too much and my son is most probably exceeds that. However, I’m also the first one to say that he is one of the most active children you would ever meet. While he watches TV for hours on end, he will be active for most of the time. He won’t slump on the sofa, instead he will jump, bounce, roll and chuck himself around and get really involved in what’s happening on screen. Joshua rarely keeps still and I’ve often joked about him not having an ‘off’ switch. Our sitting room is never tidy, he will play with his toys as he’s watching TV and act everything out. But, most importantly, he asks questions, repeats words/phrases and overall, learns.
I also firmly believe that children should learn about technology and how to use it from an early age. These days, children are going to need technology as part of their life and work, so why not pick these skills up now? Joshua’s preschool will be teaching him how to use computers when he turns three years old, so if anything, I’m giving him a kick-start at being top of the class!