Don't Allow Screens To Babysit Your Kids

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I know that as exhausted moms, there are times that we just want a break from the nagging, whining, and the constant need for attention from our kids. And you know, it’s okay and normal to feel that way. It's actually healthy for moms to take breaks from parenting to unwind and refresh in order to keep up with the demands of motherhood.

However, it should not be at the expense of our kids being “plugged” into a tablet, a smartphone, a laptop, a game console, a handheld device, or the television set all the time.

If we leave our children with the nanny or a babysitter, it means that the person we entrust to safeguard our children, shouldn’t be keeping our kids busy in a virtual world either. Children need to have active and imaginative play, and the younger they are, the less screen time they should have.

You see, what actually happens when you think you are getting a “break” from your little one, is their inattentiveness, irritability, and eye strain. Do a Google search to see the long-term effects of too much “screen time” for kids and you’ll be shocked by the studies and their results.

Just this morning, I read an article that saddened me title, “Toddlers Becoming So Addicted To Ipads They Require Therapy”. How disheartening to read headlines such as these, because they reflect the lack of knowledge about the effects that devices are having on our kids. In our efforts to get a break from parenting, we allow our children to use devices. If it’s done responsibly with set limits, it’s understandable, but if moms allow their precious little ones to be babysat by electronic devices for long periods of time, that’s a problem.

The temporary satisfaction we receive when our children quietly play on devices for long periods of time, will come back to haunt us. I know this because I’ve noticed first-hand the negative symptoms of allowing some of my kids to be longer on their device than they should - and this was with older kids! I believe that the repercussions of long-term device usage on children have not even been seen, so do we really want to find out the hard way at a later stage?

At first glance, the apps and websites seem wonderfully entertaining and educational. As moms, we convince ourselves that we are doing the right thing by allowing our young kids to play on devices because they can now know their ABC's faster or even learn to spell a word backwards! I'm not denying that electronic devices are not educational, but it depends on the length of time a child uses it, their age, and the programs they’re using.

I also know about the pressure that parents feel when their kids beg them to use their tablet, cell phone, laptop or to buy them the latest handheld device or game console. We want to please our children, and we think that we are showing them love when we give in to their demands for these devices. Instead, it also shows love to our children when we inform ourselves about the harmful effects of long-term device usage. Then set limits on our kids screen time and if possible, avoid it completely with infants and toddler out of love!

If you find it’s just too hard to live with your kids unless they are always plugged into some device, that may mean you need to take a closer look at your family life and the relationship with your children. Maybe it’s time to formulate closer bonds with them, to de-clutter your life a bit, to let go of some lesser commitments, or to relieve the unimportant things that cause you strain and stress and keep you super busy.

Our children need our interaction and most of all, they need to learn to play and keep themselves busy without screens all the time at their fingertips. Kids need to read books, play outside, have imaginative play, build things, help others, and do chores to name a few. I am not saying that we should never allow our kids to use electronic devices, because I do allow my kids but I do it with set limits like:

  • Setting a monitoring system on their devices to keep them safe from harmful sites and apps.

  • Setting a strict schedule on how much time my children use their devices.

  • Being selective about the apps and games they use on their devices. and the benefit it has on their minds.

  • Only allowing them to use devices after they have completed their responsibilities such as their chores and reading books.

  • Using more device time during difficult days such as when there is sickness, deadlines, important phone calls, no other form of help from family, friends, or a mother’s helper.

  • By limiting younger kids device use extensively by placing them away from older kids on a device in order to allow their minds to develop imagination and thoughts.

It may mean that we have to make commitments to ourselves to do what’s best for our kids and not what’s most convenient for us. To allow our children be kids and learn to really play and keep themselves busy without a screen constantly around to entertain. To take responsibility to put monitoring and time-limits on their devices and make room for books, board games, sports, and more play.

Our children are also our amanah (trust) and we will be answerable to Allah SWT for how we raise them. In turn, all this will help our children to grow-up into healthy, confident, and intelligent adults inshallah- a job well worth it for any parent!