Parenting & Paediatrics

How much Screen Time and Why Barney?

Why I have chosen Barney as one of our friends

Barney is super welcome in our home, now. Before I became a parent myself I said that this dinosaur would be banned in my house because his beautifully loving songs that were playing on repeat irritated me. You can read more about Stupid Things I said Before I became a Parent

Once I actually had a child of my own I did a lot of research about which characters I would like to introduce my child to and when I would like to expose her to them. I only introduced Poppet to Barney when she was 21 months old. She has grown fond of her singing Barney Plush Toy and she enjoyed him live on stage at the Mama Magic Expo. She loves her Barney bowling set.

I like Barney’s message and I like that there are real kids and people in the shows.

For me, the most profound difference between Barney and other children’s shows that claim to be educational, is this: Barney is a self-confessed imaginary character  – he is not real and yet kids come to love this purple dinosaur as if he is a real friend.

The Power of Imagination

One day we had a late afternoon play date with friends from out of town. There was cake and biscuits so I thought I could stretch my child’s supper time by 30 – 45 minutes and stay a bit longer because we were having so much fun. I was wrong. She was suddenly very unhappy in the car on the way home. She cried and said “eat supper”. I said “Baby, we’re almost home. Let’s phone Barney and ask him to help us by getting your supper ready in the meantime”. I called my husband on the Bluetooth device and asked to speak to Barney. My husband called Barney to the phone and then spoke with a blocked nose and American accent. It sounded incredibly real. I explained to Barney why we are experiencing unpleasant feeling after a fun outing. When we got home the Barney Plush Toy was sitting in Poppet’s feeding chair, dressed in a bib. Poppet was so incredibly happy to see Barney and she told him in no uncertain terms that the bib was “mine”. She thanked him and happily ate her supper. In this instance, that was our way of teaching her that her negative feelings are normal and that it is okay to feel and experience them. We were also teaching her that there is always a solution to be found in any circumstance. You can watch the video of this incident on Facebook or Instagram.

The power of imagination is an imperative part in early childhood development. I asked South African Psychologist Dr. Paul Bushell to give us a bit of his input on this topic.

“Curiosity and Innovative thinking will be two of the most important job skills of the future.

We are raising children for jobs that don’t exist. Rapid changes in technology and the way that the world works, means that classical jobs are being replaced with new jobs. To survive in this kind of work world, our children will be expected to think out of the box, identify new and creative opportunities and be innovative in their execution.

Imagination is a fundamental part of creative and innovative thinking. From as young as possible, we need to encourage our children to grow their imagination. This means creating opportunities for them to be curious and creative.

Give children games and activities that stimulate curiosity and creativity, like – puzzles, scavenger hunts, problem solving tasks, art and craft projects, reading, playing fantasy and make believe games. Keep in mind though, children learn most from what they see. Take the time to be curious with your child – ask questions, look for answers, reward innovative and out-the-box questions and answers, never stop your child from asking questions, build and make things together, read stories and watch movies together, and go on special dates together.

In an over-stimulated world, it is also important to create opportunities for our children to be bored. Yes, bored. In the absence of being told what to do or having something to do all the time, children get the chance to think of new and exciting things to do, explore, make and think about.

Beyond the importance of imagination to the working world, being a curious and imaginative person in the world has so many personal benefits.”

 

Dr. Paul Bushell has written a book called #raisingkids To Thrive in a Constantly Changing World.

This book resonates with me because it is filled with solutions and insight into Fun in Parenting. It is an interactive exercise book with loads of activities and even includes QR codes that take you to video footage where he talks you through activities and gives advice on topics.

 

Dr. Bushell’s book was my best find at the Mama Magic Expo and I also bought another two copies as gifts to very special parents. You can find it on www.bushell.co.za

 

Manifesting a love for a certain character does not necessarily equal Screen Time

During my research efforts about screen time my absolute best source of information was a book called The Cyber Effect by Dr Mary Aiken. 

I am in a fortunate position that my child doesn’t really enjoy screen time yet, but it can often also be a curse. There are times that I wish she would sit still and watch something so that I can get some things done. But, for now she still prefers live entertainment from us at home or the characters on stage. I am anticipating (hoping) that this might change some time after her second birthday.

I introduced my child to Barney on Screen at the age of 22 months.

By this time she had known him for 5 weeks and was able to identify him. She clearly expressed her delight and you can watch her initial reaction on our Poppet Patch Instagram handle.

The American industry for Children’s Apps and shows is a billion-dollar industry. The “early learning” products sell very well based on their promises. But, there is plenty of research that has proven that infants and toddlers do not actually know what they are doing when they play games on screens and swipe up and down.

My child looks pretty stupid compared to some of her peers, it can feel embarrassing at times, lol. But it’s really not about what it looks like to the naked eye.

From The Cyber Effect by Dr Mary Aiken:

  • Babies and young children do not truly understand what they are seeing on a screen until they are approximately two years old. Therefore, the experience cannot enhance knowledge, understanding or cognitive skills.
  • When a screen is on, a baby is less likely to play on its own – exploring the physical world – which is how real learning takes place.
  • When a screen is on, parents tend to talk to their child less, which is detrimental to a baby’s language learning. More screen time also means less eye contact and facial reading.

From the world’s leading expert in Forensic Cyberpsychology, Dr Mary Aiken:

“The evidence is irrefutable. The best way to help a baby learn to talk or develop any other cognitive skill is through live interaction with another human being. Time and time again videos and television shows have been shown to be ineffective in learning prior to the age of two. Most significant, a study of one thousand infants found that babies who watched more than two hours of DVDs per day performed worse on language assessments than babies who did not watch DVDs. For each hour of watching a DVD, babies knew six to eight words fewer than babies who did not watch DVDs. Still, some formats, some shows, and some ways of delivering educational information to young children have been shown to be more effective. These seem to be quieter shows, calmer formats with only one-story line.”

How much Screen Time am I currently allowing?

In Dr Mary Aiken’s book, she recommends one hour of television per day for children ages three to five years. My child is only 23 months old now and I’ve made a personal choice of limiting Screen Time to a TV screen only. There are exceptions when I show her family videos on my phone and when we Skype but she doesn’t have any freedom of navigating a hand held device on her own yet. I am not yet at a stage where I need to keep tabs on the time because she won’t sit still and watch for longer than 10 minutes out of her free will. She prefers to play. My husband and I don’t watch TV so sitting in front of a TV is a bit foreign to her. I don’t have a dedicated time of day for screen time, I try and let her watch TV when I desperately need those 10 minutes to get something done for myself.

Personally, I have had so many parents telling me about how their toddlers adore Barney. Some parents seem somewhat concerned that their tots favour a show like Barney. They say it makes them wonder why their kids don’t want to watch more “advanced” or more “educational” things. I want those parents, and parents like them to know that your kids aren’t stupid, they are in fact  quite the opposite. I want you to be rest assured that your child has true comprehension of what he/she is seeing on the screen and this is the learning process that he enjoys. More importantly, I want us all to be reminded that kids should not be compared to each other.

The Cyber Effect is one of the most interesting and life changing books I have read this year and I bought it here.

With Love and Gratitude,

Laetitia

*This campaign is sponsored by Barney. All views and opinions are my own. You can watch my reviews on the Poppet Patch YouTube Channel. Stay tuned for news on giveaways.

P.S Here are the lyrics of the Barney Theme Song

Barney is a dinosaur

From our imagination

And when he’s tall

He’s what we call

A dinosaur sensation

Barney’s friends are big and small

They come from lots of places

After school they meet to play

And sing with happy faces

Barney shows us lots of things

Like how to play pretend

ABC’s and 123’s

And how to be a friend

Barney comes to play with us

Whenever we may need him

Barney can be your friend too

If you just make believe him

 

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