I had an interesting internal debate in my head the other day.
My wife and I have been very careful with how much “screen” time that we give our girls (ages 2 and 4 1/2) as we don’t want it to become an electronic babysitter for us. Television viewing is limited mostly to weekends. In general, this strategy seems to work. Our girls don’t go into shock when they are denied TV and have rich, imaginary play by themselves, with each other and with friends.
The one area of “screen” time that we limit less is the computer and the Wii. It’s still not a free for all, but we’ve come to the conclusion that the interactivity offered by the educational games and websites are better for our daughters than just sitting passively in front of the TV, even if it is Sesame Street that they are watching.
Recently, my older daughter saw that I was reading an e-book on my iPad. She knows that I have a few books that I’ve downloaded using the iPad’s Kindle software that I can read to her. Of course, I agreed to read to her. This has introduced a new screen for her to stare at.
Here comes the internal debate part. Was this “screen” time? We don’t keep a strict tally, but should I have limited her from later watching TV? Is it ok that I am exposing her to reading e-books? Should I be sticking to paper books for her? Or am I just being ridiculous? It doesn’t matter what I’m using to read to my child; it’s simply important to be reading.
Scholastic reported last week that more students are using e-book readers with almost half of the students questioned stating that they had read an e-book. Half of kids 9-17 even stated that they would read more if they had access to e-books. Sounds great, right?
But, I worry about eye fatigue and the impact that spending more time staring at a screen. In my role as a principal, I spend more time than I would like staring at a computer screen (I’m doing it right now). If I’m so concerned about my daughters’ exposure to screens, should I be limiting my own reading of e-books? Or is it just important that I’m finding the time to read?