Put Down Your Phone

This mother wrote a piece about her children, and her screens.

“Put… down… your phone,” sputtered my ruddy-cheeked, then 20-month-old toddler, tightly clutching her Dr Seuss’ Mr Brown Can Moo board-book.

It was one of her first complete sentences.

Friends who are parents of older children tell us unanimously to delay the introduction of personal digital devices and to regulate screen usage thereafter. Children will have no problems mastering them later, they say.

Of course not. They’re large market consumer devices. They’re easy enough for anyone to use. They’re not challenging. That’s the point — easy, habitual use.

My three children, now in kindergarten and nursery, neither watched television nor played with personal digital devices the first two years of their lives. The screen embargo was lifted temporarily on only two occasions: for the National Day Parade live telecast and for FaceTime when my husband travelled abroad.

Our television set was a white elephant. I consider this a feat, given how we used to eagerly catch the latest programmes in our once child-free life. (Game Of Thrones in recent years? BBC’s Sherlock? Forget it.)

But I suppose these efforts were well worth it. We enjoyed our children climbing onto our laps and clamouring to be read to, embarking on “good old-fashioned” pursuits like climbing at the playgrounds, doodling, dancing and simply goofing around – activities we loved for growing their imaginations.

I high-fived my husband when my elder twins hit the age of two, before which the American Academy of Paediatrics recommended no screen exposure (although this guideline has recently been changed to 18 months).

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