So I have just written an article for the parenting website Emma's Diary *shameless plug* about the dangers (and positives) of screen watching. By this I mean telly, laptops, games consoles. Research has shown that British children have regular access to an average five screens at home by the age of ten and that a child born today will have spent a full year watching the box by the time he or she reaches seven.
The concern is, as you can imagine, that this could play havoc with our kiddies' attention spans, social skills etc. I reckon, everything in moderation. There's plenty of good, healthy educational stuff about that can enhance rather than detract and as long as any screen watching is kept to a limited period (as in not plonking your child in front of the TV all day while you paint your nails and surf the internet) and it is mixed in with other stimulating activities such as painting, puzzles, playgroups, music-making, then it all seems okay to me, nothing to worry about.Which means I don't feel too guilty admitting that watching YouTube has become a teeny bit of a favourite hobby of the little man's. I do keep a fairly tight rein on this, and the most exciting it gets is a particularly animated rendition of Jelly on a Plate. He also loves The Wheels on the Bus, all thirty versions of it, and he can't get enough of the Postman Pat episode someone has kindly uploaded where PC Selby learns to play the banjo so he can serenade Dr Gilbertson - very sweet those two although they never seem to get it together. The annoying ad at the start is admittedly something of a nuisance and I always skip over it as soon as I am allowed, however, the other day instead of the usual advertisement for curry sauce or Ikea, the screen was suddenly filled with buff men and women charging about firing guns, jumping off buildings and chucking explosives about. It was a high energy preview for an action film and clearly not suitable for a toddler to see so why was it attached to something as innocent as Pat? I quickly covered the screen with my hands to shield the little man until it was all over.
It just shows you can't be too careful when it comes to the internet and what your children are accessing. I was reading an interesting post by fellow mummy blogger 3 Children and It discussing what age children should be allowed to start social networking. I find the whole thing rather scary and my little one is only two. Heaven knows what sort of thing will be available to him when he hits those teenage years but until then I will be monitoring what he watches like a hawk - even if it is only Postman Pat.