I would like to say that I am totally against screen time regarding my children, but I am not. I use it daily but with a purpose. And I guess that’s the key word here, purpose.
My parents also used my screen time with a purpose. The TV was my baby sitter, my teacher and my friend. I grew up in front of the TV and learned how to speak English with a Valley Girl accent thanks to a cartoon called Beverly Hills Teens. The TV also taught me about American popular culture. Family sitcoms taught me valuable lessons on friendship, saying no to drugs, the concept of stranger danger, you know, all of the things my parents should have been inculcating into my every day upbringing, but were not around to do. Programs on PBS taught me math and science and showed programs about the arts which I was very passionate about. TV taught me pretty much everything I would need in order to assimilate, and assimilate I did.
American television did such a good job, that later I had to do the same thing in reverse and sought out what was accessible on Spanish language Television in order to learn how to be Latina. Telenovelas, the only programming I found that featured adolescents that I could relate to on the Spanish language channels, taught me Spanish as well as Latin cultural ideals.
I use TV with a purpose now as well. Every day, my kids have movie time with Grandma, but there is one rule: they have to watch a movie in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. I am implementing the TV as a language learning tool as well as a way for them to socialize with their grandma who happens to be 80 years old and has some limitations. To be honest, they have the best time together, it gives the kids something to talk about and bond over with their grandma, and most importantly, it releases some of the pressure off of me to be sole language teacher in the house.
My big generalization is that our mothers didn’t worry about screen time in the same way we do because there were not that many screens around, or so much content created by people who were not being regulated. The TV was just always on.
What was your relationship with TV as a kid? Do you monitor your child's screen time more or less than your parents? We’re you monitored at all? Do you think the perils of screen time are over rated?
Would love to hear from you!
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Wendy writes blog posts that turn into conversations for the Mamá Cita Podcast.