Don't Let Screens Babysit Your Kids

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Assalamu Alaikum my dear readers. I read an article this morning that saddened my heart. Unfortunately it's become very common all around us and in the best of homes. The article I read this morning was titled ' Toddlers Becoming so Addicted to iPads They Require Therapy'. It is disheartening to read headlines such as these, because they reflect the lack of concern for our children in our effort to 'get away' from them. What I'm referring to, is how parents are allowing their precious little ones, to be babysat by electronic devices for long periods of time.

Yes, I know that as exhausted parents, there are times that we just wanna break away from the nagging, whining and the need for constant attention from our kids, and you know what, that's okay! It's actually healthy for moms to take a break and unwind now and then. However, it should not be at the expense of your kids being 'plugged' into your TV, tablet, phone, laptop, game console or handheld device all the time. If you leave your kids with someone, it means that the people you trust to watch your children, should not be keeping their minds occupied in a virtual world either. Children need more active participation and imaginative play.

You see, what actually happens when you think you are getting a 'break' from your kids when they are in this artificial world for long periods of time, is their lack of attentiveness, irritability and eye strain. Just do a Google search to see the long-term effects of 'screen time' for kids, and you will be shocked by the studies and their results. The temporary satisfaction you get when your children quietly play on these devices, will come back to haunt you, because the negative symptoms may only be seen later in their life. At first glance, all the apps and such seem so wonderfully entertaining and educational, that you convince yourself that you are doing the right thing, because your kids can now say their ABC's faster or learn to spell a word backwards. I'm not denying that electronic devices can be educational, but that depends on the length of time a child uses it, and the programs that they are being exposed to.

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, show your love to your children by researching about the harmful effects of using these devices over long periods of time and then setting a limit on their screen time, and avoiding it almost completely with the very young of age, BECAUSE you love them!

If you find it just too hard to live with your kids, unless they are often plugged into some device, then maybe you should take a look at your life and your relationship with your kids. Maybe it is time to formulate closer bonds with them, to declutter your life a bit, to let go of some lesser commitments, or to relieve the unimportant things that cause you strain and stress and make you so super busy. Your kids need your interaction, and most of all, they need to learn to play and keep themselves busy without electronic devices all the time. They need to read books, play outside, use their imagination, build things, help others and do chores to name a few. I am not saying that I never allow my kids to use electronic devices, because I do, but I do it very responsibly by:

  • Setting a strict limit on the time and the place that they use electronic devices

  • Being very selective about the programs they use on electronic devices and the benefits it has for their minds

  • Only allowing them to use electronic devices after they have completed more important tasks such as their chores and reading books

  • Using it mostly during difficult days such as when there is sickness, important paperwork or phone calls and there is no other form of help from family or friends

  • Most importantly, by not allowing my kids to start using electronic devices from a very young age, in order to allow their minds to develop in a healthy way

Let's do what is best for our kids and not what is convenient for us as parents. Remember our children are our Amaana (trust) and we will be answerable to Allah for how we bring them up. Let your children be kids and learn to really play, and in turn this will help them to grow-up into healthy, confident and intelligent adults, Inshallah!