Monday, January 7, 2013

Montessori Mondays: Children and Technology

Along with keeping it real and using natural materials, Montessori philosophy does not support babies, toddlers or small children engaging with technology. And we Montessori teachers are not alone. Did you know that the American Pediatric Association believes children should not watch any TV (or even see screens!) until they're two years old?! And it's not just in the States. In Australia, the recommendation is the same for under-twos

It's easy for J and I to keep Coco away from the TV because we don't watch TV ourselves. If we do watch a show or movie, our rule is to do so only when she's sleeping. But where it gets tricky is all the other screens. iPad, iPhone, computer. They're all screens and limiting their use to when she's sleeping is a lot more difficult. During the day, I keep my iPhone in the bathroom and only check it when I go in there. I try to write my blog posts during her nap, but I'll admit that right now I'm in the kitchen writing and she is playing with blocks in the living room. :( For the most part, we try to engage in modeling positive activities in front of her: knitting, reading, cleaning, cooking, to name a few. We are not perfect, but all in all, I think we do an awesome job of keeping her life as screen-free as possible. And I am very proud of that. :)

But...I do think there are a two instances when screens are okay. 

When I'm sick.
I've only had two truly sick days since having Coco. One was when she was eight months old. She couldn't crawl yet, so I just sat her in the middle of the bed with her Boppy pillow for support and gave her toys to play with. We made it through the whole day like that. I dozed on and off, she nursed when she needed to and she napped with me, too. It wasn't so bad!

But a few weeks ago, I found myself sick with a walking toddler. Ack! I was desperate to sleep, so I put on Kipper on the iPad. I'll admit it didn't work because she doesn't actually know how to watch TV. But maybe when she's a little older, like say two? ;)

In the air.
When traveling internationally, all bets are off! :) In this photo, Coco and I just beginning our  20-hour journey back to Switzerland last March. For the first two or three hours of travel, she's pretty happy. She enjoys tearing up the Sky Mall catalogue, waving to people around us and looking out the window. On layovers, she can run around and move. But during the long-haul flight across the Atlantic, we need some backup. 
In June, Coco and I are going to visit in the States for a month and I am going to buy this Fisher Price iPhone holder for the flight. Yes, I know! It's the antithesis of "no-screen." But people, ten hours in an economy seat with a restless toddler on my lap calls for it, don't you agree?! I only expect it to keep her occupied for 15-20 minutes at a time. And, I'm only going to get it out when we've exhausted every other option. But to me, that is an okay time to give a toddler an iPhone. 

What's your approach to screens with your baby, toddler or child? Do you keep things screen-free at home? Why or why not? 

(Top photo via Getty Images)

7 comments:

  1. Don't feel guilty at all! You don't use it as a babysitter, that is all that matters! :)
    We kept things screen free for a very long time. Justin and I still don't watch tv (we only download a couple shows that we like and watch them when Felix is asleep). But we have bought some dvd's for him (Thomas and friends & Blue's Clues) that he will watch a 20 minute episode of in the morning & before bed. To be honest, it just gives us that break. I don't feel bad about it anymore and I definitely like that there are no commercials on the dvds. He definitely recognizes the Thomas character now though and points to it when we are out and about (we ended up getting him Winter boots with Thomas on them). I always thought I would never be that parent (who had a lot of things with well known characters on them). It makes him smile every time we put them on him though, and that is what matters :)

    ps.... sorry for the long comment! ha ha but if you are ever stuck with finding something entertaining for Coco to do on a flight....
    my cousin does this awesome thing...she uses an old wallet, fills it with old id's/cards (she even gets paint swatches/chips and cuts them up to fit in it) etc... keeps her little girl entertained for a good hour! They just traveled from India back to Canada and she will be two next month :)

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    1. I love the wallet idea! I actually put one together for her recently after a scare when I thought something went missing from mine, which I used to let her play with at home. (I know -- so dumb!) But I hadn't thought of bringing it on the plane. Brilliant idea!!! :) xoxo

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  2. Miles is 2.5 now and we allow limited, selective TV. But I have to say that without our iPad (loaded with educational, even Montessori apps!) we would never go out for dinner. So I think you should add a #3 for eating out.

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    1. I'm very tempted on this one...but luckily, we live in Switzerland where it's so expensive we virtually never eat out (honestly!) so we don't have to worry about it!! ;) Haha!! :(

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  3. I LOVE that you wrote about this! I could talk about kids and screen-time for hours! haha - is that weird?

    As our screen time (as a society) has gone up, I think more children have a hard time learning and focusing on tasks. I have definitely seen an increase in these problems over my 12 years as a babysitter; when I started there was no iphone/ipad or even iPod! I could get the kids to play a board-game with me, color, go to the library, play outside, or on weekend evenings we would watch a movie. Now kids don't want to do anything that is not on a screen. But they can't even focus that screen activity. Of course, this could all just be me and that the families I've babysat for have changed over the years. But I don't think it is.

    I hope when I have kids I can follow your lead!

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    1. I know just what you're getting at. It's like we've become so screen focused, we have forgotten there even is a library, or outside! Gasp. Since writing this, I've unintentionally cut way WAY back on my own screen time. It's been rad. I feel more balanced and I am surprised! xo

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  4. We caved about screen time for flights too. We bought a kindle fire and loaded it up with some vintage Sesame Street for Daphne. She really liked Sesame Street, especially Bert and Ernie, but it entertained her for less than ten minutes each time we took it out. Still every minute occupied is one minute closer to your final destination. Good luck with your flight in June!

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