Kids’ Screen Time is a Feminist Issue

google search trends shows increased volume of searches for kids screen time since 2010

Excerpt from this article:

The new poster child for bad parenting is the parent texting their way through dinner, while the kids do the same.

But let’s get real. When we fret about excess screen time as bad parenting, what we’re really talking about is bad mothering. After all, mothers still do more than three times as much routine child care as fathers do, and almost four times as much solo care, according to a 2011 study by Lyn Craig and Killian Mullan.  When we worry that parents are shirking their duties by relying on an electronic babysitter, we’re really worrying that mothers are putting their own needs alongside, or even ahead of, their kids’ needs.

It’s a worry that rears its head any time someone comes up with a technology that makes mothers’ lives easier. As mothers, we’re supposed to embrace—or at least nobly suffer through—all the challenges that parenting throws at us. We’re supposed to accept having little people at our heels while we’re trying to buy the groceries, make dinner, or go to the bathroom. We’re supposed to accept the exhaustion that comes from working a full day at the office and a second shift at home before falling into bed for an inevitably interrupted sleep. We’re supposed to accept the isolation that comes from raising children in a world that regards a crying child as a crime against restaurant patrons or airplane travellers.

The mother who hands her child a smartphone is taking the easy way out of these challenges. But since so much of parenting consists of situations in which there is no easy way out, I’m deeply grateful when somebody offers me a cheat. I love being able to hand my kid an iPhone in a restaurant so we can go out for dinner on a night when nobody feels like cooking or cleaning up. I love knowing I can get a few quiet minutes for a business call — if I let the kids watch Netflix. I love being able to have an actual conversation with a friend while my kids enjoy their Minecraft time. Steve Jobs may have banned iPhones and iPads for his own kids, but I bet he would have rethought that position if he’d actually spent every day at home with them, instead of off running Apple.

 

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