A few months ago, I saw a New York Post article entitled “It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies“.
At the time, I could not bring myself to read it. Could there BE a more inflammatory headline aimed at guilt-ridden parents? But eventually, I did read it, because it was the most-shared parenting article on the Internet in 2016, with over 2.3 million shares.
Why did it get ALL those shares? Because CLEARLY, we parents don’t want technology to turn our kids into “psychotic junkies.” However, I am here to tell you that “screen time” is not the enemy—if we are responsible and vigilant with the way our kids use it. In fact, in my parenting, screen time has been an absolute ally and a help to me in my children’s education.
You see, two out of my three children had a developmental delay in their preschool years. As a mom, I did EVERYTHING I could to help them overcome these delays. I worked with their therapists and teachers to make therapy and learning fun, and an EXTREMELY useful tool in my arsenal were screen time games and apps. With an iPad and a desktop computer, I helped them ENJOY learning things that were difficult for them, and what’s more, WANT to and look forward to learning.
Of course, we also did a huge amount of hands-on learning: there’s no replacement for board games, books, getting messy, play-doh and time outside. If you are cutting these things out of your child’s life in favor of screens, STOP. But if you want to use screens to supplement and encourage your child’s learning, PLEASE don’t feel bad about it! Pursue it and make it work for your family.
For some reason my son Jonah thinks this is a comfortable position to play iPad!
One way I did this with my youngest, Jonah (now 6), is through the website and app ABCMouse.com. Jonah was harder to work with at home than my older daughter was, so I had to be extra creative! When his preschool teacher began using ABCMouse with him at school, he LOVED and pursued it, and so she sent home a code for us to try it out at home. She had picked certain activities for him to do, and soon he was loving it so much, I was using it as a REWARD after our work time together, even though it was actually PART of my strategy to help him learn. (Insert victorious cackle! Ha ha!) Soon, we signed up for a 30-day free trial to give Jonah access to the whole site, and we ended up continuing our membership for well over a year because it was so good for him, and because it’s super-affordable. It was a not only a literal small price to pay, but it was figuratively a small price to pay for my kiddo being willing to participate in the things I needed him to do to accomplish his educational goals.
As Jonah grew and changed, the ABCMouse games expanded to meet his needs. (He still loves it, his first request on his first day of summer break yesterday was “Can I play ABCMouse?” Even before breakfast!) It goes up to 2nd grade, and there was always a new challenge for him around the corner. There are many, many games and apps out there, but there are few that have the breadth of ABCMouse, and I didn’t have to hassle with “unlocking” levels through in-app purchases once we signed up—it was ALL available, all the time. And there is A TON of content—over 8, 500 learning activities from preschool to 2nd grade, covering reading and language arts, math, science, health, social studies, art, and music—and all designed by experts in the early childhood education field.
Jonah graduated kindergarten this past Monday and his first request on waking up n his first two days of summer break was “Can I play ABC Mouse?”
I am saying all this to say: Parents, don’t be defeated or shamed into taking away those screens. Employ a combination of strategy and moderation to make them a positive part of your child’s education AND home life. With summer break already started for him, I’m glad to have a fun, educational tool that my kiddo LOVES to be a “bridge” between grades and to help me keep him learning academics when he’s not outside playing and learning about life and social skills.
If you haven’t tried ABCMouse, you can check out the free 30-day trial here. Have your kiddo take the assessment and it will automatically pick the right games and activities for him or her. Then put a plan in place for when and how often he or she will learn it—and pat yourself on the back for doing screen time right! If you love it, or already know you want to dive in, now’s the time: this week there’s a sale for 50% off a WHOLE YEAR, which you can grab if you go through this link.
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