One day, I overheard a group of children (ages 3 to 9) discussing how they used to stay awake at night while their parents thought they were asleep. One of them said, “I once took my mum’s phone and watched YouTube”.
Another one said, “I sneaked out and watch cartoon on the TV”.
I couldn’t help but admonish their parents to control their access to smartphones and the television.
Another day, I saw a three year old girl throwing violent tantrums because her mom did not allow her to watch cartoons on her phone. To my disappointment, her mom handed over the phone to her so that the tantrums could stop. The toddler immediately clicked on YouTube with excitement. I was amazed at how she was able to search for videos, skip ads and even chromecast to the smart TV!
I know it’s 2020 and our children are supposed to be smarter than us. But how much control do you have over their use of smart devices? Have you adjusted the settings on your phone and applications to prevent them from checking and seeing things that are not age-appropriate? Some parents are geeky enough to take these precautions, but many are not so savvy.
Do you give your phone to your toddler so that you can finish your chores without any disturbance? Do you know that while they are clicking and searching for cartoons, they can mistakenly click on adult contents? Do you know that they can become addicted to screens, and just like any other addiction, this can be difficult to correct?
How about replacing these screen times with productive activities such as reading, writing and painting, or educational toys to build their cognitive skills? How about taking them out for a walk, or play ball on a field, or ride a bike… How about you postpone that chore and get down to build Legos or play hide-and-seek with them? How about reading an interesting story to them? How about reciting the Qur’an together?
Children mirror their parents almost perfectly. What you do with your time reflects clearly on what they do too. Some children become glued to the screen because their parents are also glued. You don’t want them to disturb you while you watch your favourite show, so you simply hand them their own tablets to watch their own shows. How cool is that?!
“O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded”. (Qur’an chapter 66 verse 6)