We haven't even hit six months and I'm already worried about screen time. I hear people talk about it all the time like it's a cardinal sin. I definitely don't want my child to be glued to a screen, because that is eventually going to happen, unless he winds up in a trade that doesn't require being on a computer for work. My husband and I both work in industries that are all about screen time--entertainment and social media. Screen time is literally part of our jobs. On top of that, our son was born just before we went into lockdown, and from day one (okay, okay day 5), his main form of communication with the family has been via FaceTime. So, I'm struggling with a bit of Mom Guilt, but I've been thinking and wondering how harmful is a bit of screen time each day, and are their certain types of screen time that might actually be good for baby? Let me explain.
First of all, if we live in a world where many of us are already co-dependent on our phones and devices, I cannot even begin to imagine what technological advancements will be the norm for my son. My best friend works for a camp and was asked to teach kindergartners code, and she doesn't even have a coding background! That is the world we are living in, and that type of education is going to be invaluable to them...unless something other than coding becomes more relevant, but this is really not my area of expertise.
In my son's first few weeks of life, I learned that newborns can only see in black and white at first, and showing high contrast black and white pictures is good for their development. So, we had some black and white pictures on his play gym and taped around his pack 'n play. There are also books and toys you can get, but I really didn't want to load up on a bunch toys he'd play with for a few weeks and be done with. Then I discovered baby sensory videos, and I love these. I think they're great visual imagination stimulators, and they helped calm my fussy baby. I never just sat him with a YouTube video and left him there like that for very long, but not only was I able to provide him something different to look at, but I could also calm my fussy baby and have a few minutes to get done whatever I needed to get done. Nowadays, we love other baby sensory videos with colorful animations. There's one that's just a beautiful image of lanterns floating up like from the movie Tangled, and sometimes that helps calm him before bed. It also calms
me so I consider it Mommy and Me meditation. And the music in each of these videos is either fun to enhance baby or something classical that helps calm baby.
These videos remind me of the sing along videos my mom used to have us watch. For her, it was a way to surround us with music, but also allow her to do household work. Sometimes playing a video for 2 minutes just so I can go to the toilet is helpful. He's also still a baby and eventually gets bored of the videos, so he's really not watching these for very long. I think these baby sensory videos are fantastic, but I still wonder if I’m being a bad mom or how much is too much?
That being said, what worries me more is how much the rest of us are all on our devices. My husband is not able to put down his iPad or phone and that frustrates the hell out of me. He just has to watch every single sport, every hour of the day. Even when my parents watch our son, they're often watching something on their iPad or reading something on their phone. I'm also guilty, because I turn to my phone for any question or issue I have. There was also a period when I needed to study a particular sitcom, so I was watching that a lot while also watching my son. Not to mention, I'm a writer and I write on my computer!
I don't know if I'm hurting my son in any way. I'm doing my best to find balance. Sometimes when he reaches for my phone or laptop, I think, maybe the curiosity is good and he'll become a computer scientist or something. Then there are days I'm overwhelmed with Mom Guilt because I don't know if we're all setting a bad example and already building bad habits for him. It's an argument I've had numerous times with my husband. The more active our son gets, the more my husband realizes he sometimes needs to put his freaking phone down. I spend all day, every day with our son, and even if I'm in the middle of work for a client, sometimes I'm forced to put it all down and just devote my attention to my son and play with him. I'm hoping once our baby is really moving around, it'll force everyone be a little more active. The pandemic hasn't made it particularly easy though, since we're in the house 95% of the time.
Anyone else struggling with this? Have you noticed it has been more difficult to get away from screen time during the pandemic? Is it just us? I would love to hear how you all handle screen time, and hopefully I'm not alone here drowning in my island of Mom Guilt!
As always, sending you positive vibes and light!