It’s official. My daughter, age 5, now has a digital device of her very own. Granted, it’s just an old hand-me-down iPod Touch with a few games on it. But still, there’s a part of me that feels weird about dedicating a device to her use with all the talk in parenting circles about limiting screen time. Not to mention the fact that we’re a tech-oriented family already. I’m not sure I’m ready to add another generation in the digital mix.
There are about a million lists of do’s and don’t’s for families navigating screen time issues, but I’m more inclined to look to books for advice. I think you might be surprised at what you can learn from picture books, even if you’re a not a kid. Like Matthew Cordell’s Hello! Hello!, for example. In this picture book, everyone is too busy with whatever gadget to say anything but a distracted hello to the little girl who is restless and sick of her own electronic options.
Until the girl is beckoned outside by a little leaf
From there the book explodes with color and imagination as the girl and her family say hello to what they’ve been missing. It may sound a bit over the top or message-y, but the story is wry enough to transcend what might have been preachy. Instead of rolling my eyes at yet another guilt-inducing admonishment to put down my smartphone, I was smiling, nodding, and looking around. Asking myself, what have I been missing while glued to my device?
Maybe it’s just me, but I’d say a book like this is more effective than a list of the ways that screen time is bad for families any day of the week. There’s only one rule on my list of do’s and don’t’s: Read picture books.
Okay, two rules: Read picture books and take their advice.
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