From time to time it’s easy to use the internet or television as a digital babysitter. Recently however, I found out just how easy it is for my grandson to find something inappropriate. He was watching a video on trains that had been posted online when suddenly, a video clip of cattle being slaughtered was shown. Those few seconds of video terrified him for days.
Unsupervised viewing is a major problem with free Internet programming that can potentially take a child into many scary places. As a grandfather, it’s very easy for this to happen even when you’re supervising what they’re watching. It’s best to understand, control and limit screen time whenever possible. Here’s a few tips on ways to prevent your own slip up.
1) Do your research – Cartoon shows can influence a child’s behavior without the (grand)parent realizing how the child perceives what they see. My grandson was watching a well-known cartoon series where the main character continually whines until he gets what he wants. It didn’t take very long before he tried the whining technique . . . but soon found it would not work for him. Doing a little research beforehand can really help you know what you (and your grandchild) are in for. A great resource is Common Sense Media. They do reviews of programs and break the elements down into clear categories.
2) Limit Screen Time – Screen time should have set viewing limits. Watching videos during meals can divert attention away from finishing supper and remaining at the table. Screen time must include educational programming as well as entertainment. Today’s children are growing in the digital age where learning is focused through electronic devices. Early acceptance of online education and technology will be important. Consider setting a time limit for how long kids can interact with their screens before you have your play date. It’s also best to check in with their parents in case there are already established rules at home, which leads me to my last tip…
3) Stay consistent – Rules and child development must be consistent between all members of the family. I know I’m guilty of breaking those rules when I supply sugary snacks to a pleading little person, as well as letting that little person watch too much TV (so I can rest my weary bones after countless laps around the house playing “good guy and bad guy”). Being the best grandpa often gets me into trouble with his Mom. Using the same rules that are already established at home will make your job of being the best grandparent in the world a lot easier.
These easy tips will help you when dealing with a digital grandchild. For me, it comes down to knowing what my grandson is watching and taking the time to watch with him so I can share the smiles. Also, don’t forget that kids have a tremendous amount of energy so schedule some physical activity between favorite shows . . . if you’re looking for suggestions, I would start with “good guy and bad guy”.
Until next time!