14 Apr Raffi: My one screen time exception
I shielded infant Henry from the wall-to-wall TV screens at Recovery Grill as if they would blast into his brain and rot it on impact. I’d nervously twitch when my parents wanted to FaceTime.
The American Association for Pediatrics says on their website, “Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.”
Of course, that doesn’t apply to me. I’m allowed to check my email during breakfast, lunch, dinner and while breastfeeding because my jobs are Very Important. And reading my social feeds is just the same as reading the paper was back in the old days, right? A girl needs to unwind and stay informed somehow.
And I HAVE to capture and post every cute thing Henry does to Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Twitter because family and friends are relying on his cuteness for a pick-me-up. I just can’t let them down.
I keep thinking I’ll unplug more when Henry’s more aware of it all. Or next week, when I’m not so upset and needing distraction. Or later, when this job isn’t so pressing. I can stop at any time. I just don’t want to. I mean it! Stop pressuring me!
My own addiction and hypocrisy aside, something good has come of handheld technology.
Henry is going on two months with bronchiolitis, and has to undergo a nebulizer twice daily. We tried songs and fingerplay, reading books, and everything else we could think of to get him to sit still for these wearisome treatments, sometimes having to hold him down to gas him while he cried.
In the end, it was YouTube videos of Raffi on our iPhones that made it bearable for us both.
Oh, Raffi, voice from my childhood, back to save the day! From classics like “Baby Beluga” to pirated sped-up versions of “Banana Phone,” we made our peace with screen time.
A guy with a guitar singing “The More We Get Together” feels more wholesome and worthwhile, somehow, than today’s overzealous, obnoxious animations. I trust him. Henry does, too.
And the songs are good. Not infrequently do I find myself at my desk or in my car, alone and humming songs about peanut butter sandwiches.
Ironically, Raffi happens to be all over Twitter (@Raffi_RC), wrote a song called “Tweet me Right” and released a book last June called Lightweb Darkweb: Three Reasons to Reform Social Media before it Re-Forms Us.
I’ll probably read it on my iPhone.
This column originally appeared in The Chronicle Newspaper.