In the local supermarket when my screaming red-faced, fist pounding, foot stomping three-year-old loses her mind over the fact I answered her question wrong or turned left rather than right or that her brother was up the front of the trolley and she wanted a turn I reason to myself that I have four options to deal with it.
1. I could calmly proceed to pile organic fruit and veg into the trolley allowing her to work through her emotions and hopefully come to realise that screaming doesn’t achieve anything.
2. I could hurry to the counter as quick as I can forsaking any kind of shopping whatsoever and headed straight home for a glass of wine. (Or three.)
3. I could manoeuvre the trolley as quickly as I possibly could without running over fellow shoppers, streak down the lolly aisle, unwrap a lollypop and stick it in her mouth.
4. I could hand her my phone so she could soak up the dulcet tones of Peppa Pig and I could get the toilet roll, two-minute noodles and tomato sauce without having to listen to yet anther tantrum.
Which one would you choose?
Me? I usually go for a combination of numbers three and four, but it turns out that ( once again) my parenting methods in handing a child a screen to quell a device is up there allowing them to be used in medical experiments.
In fact so bad according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics that it “stunts their development.”
A team at Michigan University assessed 144 families with young children aged between 15 and 36 months. They found that the more problematic the child, the more likely a parent is to rely on modern technology as a pacifier.
Dr Jenny Radesky said in a press release that, “mobile devices are everywhere and children are using them more frequently at young ages. The impact these mobile devices are having on the development and behaviour of children is still relatively unknown.”
“It has been well-studied that increased television time decreases a child's development of language and social skills. Mobile media use similarly replaces the amount of time spent engaging in direct human-human interaction."
“Heavy device use during young childhood could interfere with development of empathy, social and problem solving skills that are typically obtained by exploring, unstructured play and interacting with peers.”
It ties in with a headline blaring at me from last Sunday’s weekend papers 'Don’t bribe your kids with screentime' as an expert warns of the consequences. The big bad digital boogeyman.
It makes me wonder if any of these researchers have ever wandered around Woolies on a hot summer’s day with an overtired two-year-old, a hungry baby and the school pick up looming. Surely then even they would resort to a screen to get them through? Have they ever thought through the 'consequences' us parents have?
I am big on bribery to get what I want with my kids for two reasons, firstly because it works, and secondly er, because it works.
Watch: Parenting expert Maggie Dent on the impact of screen time on the under 5's. Post continues after video.
For more Maggie Dent go here.
Perhaps what the researchers need is to role-play life with a toddler before they make such disturbing findings unsettling all of us parents for whom screentime isn't just a way of life but a necessity.
I've come up with a way to help them understand.. here’s a little script they can use, it only takes one actor.
Mum: We’re going to the shops go find your shoes.
Mum: Find your shoes.
Mum: I said FIND YOUR SHOES
Mum: if you find your shoes by the time I count to 20 I’ll buy you a lolly pop.
Mum: Okay now in the car.
Mum: Come on lets go to the car.
Mum: I said LET’S GO TO THE CAR.
Mum: If you get in the car by the time I count to 20 you can have my phone for the trip to the supermarket.
Mum: Stop pulling your brothers hair.
Mum: Stop pulling your brother’s hair.
Mum: STOP PULLING YOUR BROTHER’S HAIR. Right give me the phone.
Mum: if you stop pulling your brothers hair you can have my phone back.
Mum: Okay now if you are good all the way around the supermarket and don’t have a tantrum you can have 20 mins on the Ipad when we get home.
Mum: No don’t run away get in the trolley.
Mum: In the trolley.
Mum: IN THE TROLLEY.
Mum: (sighs) Okay just watch something on my phone for a little bit we will be out of here soon...
Do you use screen time to stop tantrums? Will these findings change that?