Whether we like it or not, A is surrounded by screens. Any child living (in a developed country) in 2018 is. Whether it’s TV time or FaceTiming grandparents, screens are everywhere. While we try to limit his non-FaceTime screens quite strictly during the week (a 20-minute episode of something on Netflix or YouTube), we are considerably less strict over the weekends (those cozy family movie nights are just too good to pass up). I’ve now come to appreciate using the screen strategically to make parents’ lives a little calmer and kids’ lives a little richer.
So, I thought I would outline how we intentionally use screen time for both those ends.
Why and how we use screens:
- Rest. Obviously. Let’s be honest–When he’s being crazy or we need to get the dishes finished, sometimes flipping on the TV will do the trick. Sure, in an ideal world, he would be able to sit calmly and work on his puzzles as I clean up dinner. But LOLS, that’s not going to happen every night. I really only use TV like this when B is still at work. It gives me either a moment of rest or a moment to get something done waaaaay more efficiently than you can with a toddler hanging off your leg. (He’s taken to grabbing the knives from the dishwasher as we try to load it, so if some Elmo is going to prevent stitches, we’ll do it).
- Exposure to Turkish. Now, I know you can’t learn a second language just by watching TV. Research shows over and over that in-person, live interactions are what help children develop language. Turkish TV doesn’t replace Turkish conversations. That being said, A is still exposed to Turkish through the TV. And when his dad is home, too, they use Turkish TV as a prompt to start talking in Turkish. Watching Turkish shows also gives him more familiarity with Turkish culture, like kid’s songs and popular characters.
- Instigating color-conscious and other social justice-oriented conversations. Just like books, TV shows and movies can be a great prompt to start a conversation about social justice. One of his favorite shows, for example, features a trio of female protagonists, two of whom are girls of color. This allows us to start talking about gender and race with A from a young age.
And just as a moment of joy and for our own personal memories, A’s favorite TV shows to watch in the last month or two are:
- Spirit: Riding Free (I’ve talked about this one before–it’s his first love.)
- Planet Earth 2
- Canim Kardesim