Since the emergence of portable technology, i have seen the rise of parents using iPhones, iPads or even laptops to soothe their babes. My missus and me made a commitment since our first child that we will not take this path. Our reasoning as follows:
- Since the dawn of time till the tech revolution, babies, toddlers and kids did not have the luxury of browsing YouTube while commuting to get groceries (or if you’re from further back in time, hunting / gathering);
- My missus and me both did not get to fiddle with a piece of metal the size of our faces which displays bright colours and loud music, and both of us turned out to be somewhat ok;
- There’s so much things to see, to do and to live. Kids are in essence, explorers. They have imagination, they can make mountains out of molehills. I remember vividly how i saw the world when i was 20 years younger, and i know that staring blankly at a screen does not build imaginative and creative capabilities.
So what can be done to soothe your child instead of the usual “YouTube, i shop/walk/do my own stuff”?
First and foremost, setting a good example helps with the child’s willingness to go “free”. My missus and i try not to use the “dian wei” or iPhone in front of the kids while we can bond, talk or play with them. There are times when there are lapses in judgement and we start fiddling our handphones or we even give the phones to the kiddos for some “peace and quiet”.
What both my missus and me have decided is that from birth (and this is the important part), we should inculcate and teach our children that there are other things to do than stare at a screen. We did not get a home television in the living room till Daner was 2 and a half. We spend the evenings playing in the playground, going to the nearby supermarket or stay home and goof around.
This allowed Daner, and now Damon, to grow up relatively easy to please and soothe, without the need of a bright screen with moving pictures and loud music. Another thing about the current trend (sort of a mini-rant here), is that when i’m in the train or a public area, i don’t really want to hear a repeated medley of 10 nursery rhymes. Worst of all is if the baby/toddler/child is still bawling and the parent/parents are coddling them with the 4 inch screen. This says alot about their parenting methods, don’t you think?
Sure i concede that it is a good and tested way to stop their child from crying or making a scene, but are there side effects? Myopia is getting more prominent here in Singapore, with kids as young as 5-6 years old start wearing prescription glasses. Further, what kind of social problems will be caused with a generation of children being glued to the phones/tablets create, 20 years from now? Would people even interact with one another? Would people even “see” one another?
I know i can be pessimistic, but as a father of 2 (going 3) kids. I want them to have the best that their childhood can offer, that means making lots of good and fun memories with each other and with us, parents. I don’t want them to remember us as not being “there” in the moment, or being ignored as we were “too busy” with something else (usually something trivial).
To conclude, i would like to say that i’m not judging people who use their phones/tablets to keep their kiddos distracted. I’m just bringing my point of view to the table, and hopefully i can get more parents to actively stop using their phones/tablets when their kids are around.
Here’s to techless child-rearing, TGIF!