Yesterday I was contact by the lovely Fiona from ABC Mid North Coast to do another radio interview.
This time the topic was mobiles, computer and TVs in bedrooms of very young children. Recent statistics show children as young as four having their own phones, texting friends and interrupting sleep patterns because of the need to stay connected. ( What the....? ) We also spoke about the difficulties and dangers of kids having unsupervised access to computers and televisions.
I believe that there are no rules when it comes to parenting. What may seem right for one family may be unsuitable for another. Does an eight year old need a mobile phone ? My first thought was "of course not", but I am sure that if my child was in a shared parenting arrangement, for example, then further consideration would be given.
I guess the issue is not so much the phones or the computers/televisions in bedrooms it is the parenting that goes with. Using television/computer games as a babysitter or buying a mobile phone because of a nagging child, or an attempt to keep up with a peer group seems to say more about parenting than about the phone or computer to me.
Personally, I limit access to particular things because I think childhood is sacred! There is plenty of time to grow up and I certainly don't want to hurry the process. I don't want a tv programme (that airs in a 'family' time slot of 7pm) highlighting issues of divorce, drug taking, teen pregnancy, suicide, domestic violence to be seen by my children at this stage. There will be so much exposure to those themes in 'real' life before too much longer for them, that I don't think they need to experience a 'simulated' version of the issues just yet! I will try and hold out a little longer.
Having said that, my strategy is more 'distraction' than anything else. I don't 'ban' things, I just subtly offer alternatives or make other things seem more attractive.
I am sure as my boys get older this will become harder and harder, but for now, I will extend the joys of childhood for as long as possible.