One-Word Prompt 3/6/2016: Screen

In an era driven by high-technology, half of the adult population admit to being hooked on their smartphones. According to Pew Research Center, in 2015, 92% of U.S. adults owns a cellphone, including smartphones. Nielsen reports that the average American adult spends 11 hours per day on gadgets. In the Philippines, we are dubbed as the text-messaging capital of the world due to the volume of SMS (short message service) traffic encountered in the country. With the emergence of China manufactured phones and gadgets, the age of phone owners in the Philippines are getting younger, because of its affordability.

The statistics simply shows that people are keeping up with technology. We are in sync with the world of technological advancement. And with the age of world wide web, we stay connected even miles away from one another. Information is within our grasp with the help of Google and Wikipedia has now become our virtual encyclopedia. We have access to entertainment via our smartphones and tablets, aside from the traditional television. We spend 11 out of 18 waking hours looking at a screen. I for instance, spend around 5-6 hours in front of the computer during the course of my 8-5pm office work. I spend an average of 2 hours per day in my smartphone for blogging, and check my phone from time to time for text messages and Facebook notifications (I am one guilty freak).

Because of these advancement, parenting styles has also evolved and is greatly affected by technology. A toddler’s shape-sorting toy has now been replaced with iPads and smartphones. Reading books become boring to children because they find interactive apps in handheld devices more fun. Children are so much exposed to screens at very young age, and lots of parents are guilty of this. Just like the succeeding scenario I’ve encountered while grocery shopping. There was a toddler who was frantically crying maybe because her mom did not give him the chocolate bar that he wanted from the shelves. The mother tried to calm down her child, but out of desperation, she reached inside her bag, took out a tablet and opened an app, then she handed over to her toddler. Voila! the kid stopped crying. But according to researches, using a smartphone or tablet to pacify our children may impede their ability to learn self-regulation. They tend to become impulsive, hard to please, and may have short attention span. Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine found out that use of interactive screen time for children under 30 months of age could impair a child’s development of the skills needed for Math and Science.

As a parent, I am guilty of the convenience of iPad and television in particular, as a media to entertain my young child, especially when I needed time to finish a task in the house. But reading all these reports in the internet regarding the negative impact of screen time to toddlers, I panicked. Worst thing is when you let your kid spend time on screen unsupervised. The web world offers a vast of useful and sometimes dangerous information such as graphic content and violent videos that corrupt our children’s innocent and vulnerable minds.

We are their role models, so be a good influence. Having said all that, I am now more cautious and responsible on the use of mobile phone in front of my kid. I remember one incident when I was replying to an important text message in the middle of playtime. My daughter was telling me something while I was ignoring her unintentionally, because I was so focused on my phone. I was shocked and felt guilty at the same time on what my daughter did next. She suddenly took my phone out of my hand and put it aside, and continue with what she was trying to convey, which was to put the blanket on my head and pretend I was Queen Elsa. From then on, I always remind myself not to use a phone or an iPad whenever Raffy is around. I agree to the article I’ve read somewhere that when we constantly use our phones or gadgets in front of our young children, they would feel unloved and unnoticed. Toddlers or young children are egocentric. They want an undivided attention. They are still in the process of discovering a lot of unknown things, which requires our focused guidance and attention.

Technology is good. Unlimited access to information is even better. It feels good to be entertained and keep updated. But we should always keep in mind that too much of something is bad, so keep things in moderation. Too much screen time is not only harmful to young children but also to grown-ups alike. Too much time wasted on Facebooking or TV series marathon hinders our productivity thus makes us less  effective.

Being responsible in any areas of life helps a lot, so better keep things balanced so there won’t be any trouble.


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