“Jane, can I have the TV remote control, please?” “No, mummy. No, mummy, please. The next programme is Dora the Explorer; I like it too.” Jane pleaded, trying to convince her mum. Her mum reached out to collect the device and changed the channel to one of her favourites. Almost immediately, Jane started throwing tantrums. In a bid to restore normalcy her mum conceded to Jane’s choice of cartoon.
The above scenario and other similar ones play out in many homes today. Also, because tablets and mobile devices are now being controlled by children, many parents are quick to surrender to their children’s whims and requests for screen time. These parents see the tablets as the go-to pacifier. Is this development in the best interest of children? Is unrestrained screen time ideal for children? No, it isn’t.
“An even greater concern is the hypnotic character of television viewing…”
- Tim Seldin
Obesity, attention problems, sleep disturbance, nightmares and poor performance in school are some of the negative effects of screen time in children. Also, excessive screen time is said to be displacing healthy social, cognitive and physical activities.
A valuable way to reduce screen time effects on children is to raise them the Montessori way. By doing this, we can be assured of children’s holistic or all-round development, as this approach hinges their growth on real things and nature. A cue can be taken from a Montessori learning environment where when a child first gets enrolled, everyday living—or what is known as Practical Life—activities are presented to her. These activities use real materials that the child is already used to seeing at home, such as grains for spooning and water for pouring activities. The activities are carried out with child-sized items – trays, bowls, spoons, jugs, etc.