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Like so many people, I’ve long pledged to address a chronic addiction to my phone, tablet and TV, but this has taken on more urgency since the boy arrived. Currently, his only direct exposure to screens is five or 10 minutes of his beloved Baby Shark videos every other day which, for some reason, help get him ready for bed. It’s hard to work out exactly what about these makes him sleepy. They’re energetic, pitched at a much older age and he can’t be b discerning any meaning from f the content, since he doesn’t know knowwhat what a shark is. He doesn’t even know what a baby is. And he’s a baby.
Of course, it’s not just direct exposure exposu that’s a problem. The American Academy Academ of Pediatrics says no child under 18 18m months should be around any active a screens, even e in the background; b a prescription so s drastically unmoored u from f the
realities of modern life,
I can’t help imagining it being written with a quill. It’s true that I listen to the expert prohibitions when it comes to, say, obstructing my child’s windpipe, or feeding him nachos, so maybe I shouldn’t be sceptical when their advice impinges, however slightly, on my own weaknesses. But I had more exposure to flickering diodes than that when I was a baby, and that was before screens killed the Yellow Pages, XtraVision and the concept of the wristwatch.
Perhaps it was ever thus, and the hysteria about screens is just puritanical shaming from the sort of parents who say your child should be raised on a diet of pond water, turnip heads and ukulele covers of rap songs. Aside from YouTube on the TV, we have phones, tablets and laptops. We sometimes show him photos we’ve taken and Facetime his nana every week - should we stop that, too?
My dad regrets he didn’t have more screens to offer us. ‘There wasn’t enough of kids’ TV in your day,’ he Dhb women’s merino base layer Warm to your core. £40, wiggle.co.uk says, with the rueful air of an old man at a bus stop telling you how hard it was to get bananas during the war. My dad loves TV so much I’m pretty sure he can still see the 5USA logo when he shuts his eyes. But my mum was less of a fan, and he remembered that only certain shows were allowed for us growing up, neither of which were tailored for kids. ‘ Neighbours, certainly, and Glenroe on a Sunday night.’
This latter offering was a gently diverting rural melodrama that ran on Irish TV for two decades on a budget roughly equivalent to a tube of Pringles. For me, and every other Irish child, it also served as the last thing we were allowed to watch on Sunday, meaning we’d sit through 30 minutes of crag-faced people in wellies having affairs near barns, just to resist going to bed. For us, the strangled fiddle music that brought each episode to a close was the haunting siren that settled our brains for easy sleep each week. Perhaps, compared to that, a little Baby Shark isn’t so bad. ■
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