Screens : educate rather than prohibit

When it comes to children using screens, I prefer to educate rather than prohibit. For me, education means offering better protection to our children and giving them better tools for their future lives. At some point, when they no longer need us to go on, I’d like them to be well equipped to face whatever lies ahead. In our family, we don’t have a television, but the children all have access to iPads because they are excellent tools for learning and, sometimes, entertainment. It’s natural to seek out quality entertainment, such as watching good films or exciting documentaries.

Screen Literacy for Tomorrow

When I was a child, we had a television, but with a cable subscription. My mother watched films, series and documentaries with us, turning this activity into a family moment. Television was not a solitary pastime, but an opportunity to learn, to be inspired, to laugh and to cry together. Those moments are etched in my memory. My mother taught us to watch television thoughtfully, with intention, and I have replicated this with my own children. I guided them to approach the media of their time as tools designed to feed their curiosity, rather than passively scrolling through empty, even stupid, content like a zombie. Doomscrolling is not good for the brain and can have negative effects on mental health and sleep patterns.

Yesterday I asked my children whether they’d rather spend time outdoors with us or in front of a screen, and they chose the former without hesitation. Their minds are not dominated by screens, and they know that screens are far from essential to their well-being and happiness.

But I think it’s important to keep up with our times.

As a parent, I think it’s essential to teach my children how to use these tools. We live in a constantly changing world. Just as I taught them to read, write and count, I teach them to navigate the digital world.

Conscious Digital Use

If your child spends too much time in front of screens, it’s probably because you allow it. Every household sets its own rules. In our family, we see technology primarily as a tool, and we don’t put it at the top of the pyramid of our children’s well-being. Sometimes I have to remind them of this rule and respect it myself. As parents, we have to be consistent in our actions and set an example. I have myself really changed the way I manage social media, I used to spend a lot of time creating content, trying to please my viewers and then I realised how wrong that was, that I ought to be concentrating on my life, my family, the people I love, the people who support me, and that I should also be setting an example for my children. I stopped carrying my phone around the house, putting it on the table, I just stopped. Nowadays, I use it mainly to keep in touch with my friends, to create, tell stories and for work.

Educate rather than prohibit

If my husband and I had chosen to ban screens, we would have created a lack of trust. Confidence is the most precious gift we can give our children. Without it, they will never have enough confidence to be honest with themselves and with others.

If you disconnect or lock access to screens at home, your child will find a way to access them. Children are resourceful. They may do it on the sly, which could lead them to lie and be deceptive. I don’t want my children to develop these habits. We’re there to remind them of the limits, suggest other activities and set priorities. In fact, as I write this article, my sons aged 7 and 11 have voluntarily put down their tablets to go out and enjoy the sun.

Educated Screen Choices

These days, the internet is an invaluable source of information. Like a library, it is full of educational resources, but also distractions and inappropriate content. By denying them access to the Internet, we are depriving them of learning opportunities and putting them at a disadvantage in a world where digital skills have become indispensable.

Our children also use technology creatively. They use it to create animations, edit videos and write online articles. I don’t see them spending their time watching pointless videos on YouTube. They are active users by taking part in activities that stimulate their creativity and learning.

Banning access to the internet doesn’t solve problems; it just displaces them. Children will find a way around the rules and can find themselves in dangerous situations if they don’t have the necessary skills to surf online safely.

As parents, our responsibility is to educate our children to use technology and the internet responsibly. This means setting limits, but also teaching them the skills they need to navigate the digital world with confidence and discernment.

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