WHY I'M OKAY WITH MY KIDS WATCHING ANNOYING YOUTUBE VIDEOS (AND IT'S NOT FOR THE FREE TIME)

Eating my pre-parent words-- I could write an entire series about it.

Before I had kids, I considered parents who let their kids watch shows on their phones and tablets to be, how do I say this, lazy and lacking concern regarding their child's development.

Then I had one child and still thought that. Sort of.

Mostly, I was smug that she didn't even care for screens. Until I discovered that, when we were in the car, Beastie Boys music videos were the only thing that would calm her screaming self down.

Then she discovered Sesame Street.

And, okay, maybe it was a little premature to state that a child less than one didn't care for screens. But I still didn't stick them in front of her regularly. She got the occasional Sesame Street, and she did love The Wiggles.

Then I had two children and, as my sleep drastically decreased, The Wiggles' presence in our home increased. If I could get LB to nap and set her in her swing without her waking, I would turn on my laptop and sit next to S on the couch with my eyes closed for a few minutes. I figured it was fine since she yelled, "WAKE UP, MOM!" every forty seconds. Thank you, Wiggles.

Then I had three kids, and if this seems like this is just a story to tell you that the more kids I have, the more YouTube they watch, it really isn't. We read books. We paint pictures. We play make believe.

Some of my kids nap, and some need quiet time. This quiet time is not always filled with crafts or quiet play. Sometimes it is, and sometimes I put a movie on. Other times, well, other times call for YouTube.

I used to feel guilty about it, as though I was using it as a babysitter, or that I was so inept when it came to staying patient and sane during the day that I had to resort to electronics to maintain some sanity.

I felt like I should feel guilty that I wasn't at least setting them up with some sort of educational app, but I didn't. I mean, I don't feed them sugar, but when it's time for birthday cake we don't mess around with a sugar-free, artificially sweetened, chemically-laden excuse of a cake. No, we go full butter, cream, and sugar.

I take the same approach with YouTube.

I figure, if they're going to watch it, they may as well knock themselves out. And they do. We're full steam ahead here, with surprise eggs, toy reviews, and every possible rendition of the family finger song.

In the midst of looking for earplugs and wanting to hit my head against the wall for fifteen (or, okay, forty) minutes at a time, I've realized there are some benefits to these so-called shows.

Here's my top three, none of which involve uninterrupted cleaning time.



MEMORIZATION

I get some of the songs stuck in my head, but so does LB. What's more, she memorizes lines from the shows. After watching the same episode of Peppa Pig a few times, she's able to quote it right along with them, snorts and all. This is huge for someone whose short term memory is affected in different ways.

RECOGNITION

Between play-doh surprise eggs and Spiderman videos, there's a few songs about different colored balloons. LB was doing well learning her colors before, but since watching these videos, her confidence has increased. Number and letter recognition has gone up with S, too, despite not watching strictly educational videos.

INCREASED LANGUAGE EXPOSURE

I speak to LB all day long, and read many books a day. She does not lack hearing words or conversations, but it's not as though she parrots everything I say back to me. When she watches shows with songs and rhymes, she does repeat them, and she will sing words in a song that she doesn't yet say in conversation.

To be clear, these are just hidden gems that I found in the obnoxious, albeit catchy, shows my children watch. They aren't used as, or intended to be any sort of substitute for therapy, learning, or care of any kind. Recognizing these benefits just makes it a little easier for me to put up with hearing "Mommy finger" for the 200th time. Because, let's be honest, sometimes I need to feel a little better about needing that uninterrupted cleaning time.

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