It must be mainly from the hours and hours I spent as a student listening to lectures and reading on the effects of mass media on children that I’ve become a fussy mommy on what and how much media my cellito uses. By mass media I refer to the new ones, online and mobile, as well. And being fussy I mean:
1) Controlling how much time she spends watching her kiddie movies on TV. “Controlling” means not more than one movie a day. She has about 50 downloaded movies and could spend the whole day watching them if we let her;
2) Not letting her use a tablet and any other gadgets that other kids use to play games, learn, etc. This is also a reason I’ve delayed buying a tablet for myself. I had seen her grab her cousin’s tablet and even slap him to force him to give it to her. It’s too enticing (and addicting) for kids;
3) Surrounding her with books at home: at her play area in the living room, at the bedside, and on her little table;
4) Going to the library every Fri for some kiddie socializing and fun reading (and going round the bookshelves and messing up the books, too, when she was younger); and
5) Starting to build a “mini-library” for her.
The last item is right now the apple of my “fussiness”. A mini-library or even just a stack of children’s books was something I didn’t get to have as a child and I want my cellito to have. I had been wanting to have a proper place for her books cos they were scattered in different corners of the house, so last month we finally headed to Ikea to buy a case.
I know books and printed materials as a whole are becoming out of fashion. But I don’t really care. I couldn’t care less if books are not “interactive” like tablets and other gadgets supposedly are, if in some places schools are slowly replacing books with tablets. Just because that’s the trend it doesn’t mean I should simply jump on the bandwagon or throw my child to it. I decided I would make an informed decision on things like this and not just follow what’s in vogue.
What I care more about is for my cellito to have that experience of touching or feeling the cover and pages of a book, smelling its paper, admiring its colors, etc. What I care about is for her to have that joy of tearing the pages, scribbling or doodling on them, and coloring them (though not when it comes to library-borrowed books!).
She has had that experience, that joy, as early as I can remember. (Of course, the baby and kiddie books were there not for learning, but more for her amusement, and nibbling!) She got used to printed stuff early that when she was about 2 years old she would get some of my paper files and pretend to be reading them aloud – while walking around the house.
It was simple stuff, simple joy – something I felt she ought to have.
I remember when I started noticing that many parents were giving their toddlers iPad to play with and do educational games, I pondered if I should consider getting one too so my cellito could also learn the fun way. But my instinct and understanding of how media, regardless of their kind, affect children told me I shouldn’t, that it was too early, that habitual and prolonged use of such gadgets would do no good to her eyesight, social development, motor skills, etc.
These days when I hear my cellito doing her “monologues” as she tries to tell stories of mixed and matched plots and characters she had heard over and over from her reading sessions, I feel glad I followed my instinct. I know certain things in life don’t change, including the basics of learning, or the old way of learning. I also know eventually she will need to embrace the new ways, to follow the trend so she can keep pace with the ever changing world. But for now, I’m letting her enjoy what basic things she can enjoy – and equip herself with.
Filed in: motherhood