An alarming number of people would claim that in today’s “busy world”, there is less and less time for playing active games with one’s children or reading stories to them. For many parents, it seems that the easiest way of keeping children occupied is to hand over an electronic device of some sort.
Most children now know how to use an iPhone, iPad or Tablet, and often young babies are able to swipe screens and tap on icons before they can walk or talk. Yes, your child might seem happy to play for hours and it may indeed offer some much needed peace and quiet, but is it really healthy and good for the child’s development?
Unfortunately, there is also another force at work here. The days of children playing outside, getting dirty, scraping their knees and using their imagination to make up fun games with their friends is diminishing for another reason. Unfortunately, the health and safety brigade do all they can to stop this and a new and often worried parent is never too far away from reading a horror story to severely put them off letting children play outdoors, certainly unsupervised, and so the easiest option is to offer an ‘electronic babysitter’.
This is not to say that television or electronic devices are all bad. Often they can provide educational support and children may use stories or characters they have seen on the television to make up a game, but where do we draw the line between occasional ‘screen time’ and an unhealthy amount of time sitting indoors glued to the screen?
In restaurants nowadays, it’s rare to see children playing with toys at the table or colouring in. The default action by parents is to offer them their phone to play with. It’s sad that children aren’t being allowed to develop their creative minds with imaginative play. You regularly hear children say ‘I’m bored’ as if it’s a bad thing – actually, it’s important for them to not always be presented with instant gratification entertainment.
This encourages them to use their imagination, to think differently, independently and find something to play with or a game to occupy themselves. There is nothing nicer than listening to young children playing a game which they have made up amongst themselves and, whilst they might be acting out some scenes from a computer game they’ve played or a TV programme they’ve watched, they are not hunched in front of the screen for this, they are being active, using communication skills and developing important skills for later life.
It’s not always possible to sit and play games with children for hours on end or to read them endless stories, but putting down your own phone or laptop and giving them a bit of dedicated ‘parent’ time will bring the most fantastic rewards and will encourage them to make their own fun, finding excitement away from the iPad.
We have a policy at Like Minders which is very clear - No screens during the day (unless of course the parent specifically asks for it). Our carers are there to actively engage with the children, through play, art, reading, exercise etc. If a parent requests it, we have no issue with screens just before bed or first thing in the morning, but the focus of the day should always be to help the children develop. We should never be too “busy” for that.
About the Author
Born and raised in the countryside in Scotland, Bryony’s early years were far removed from London. Her passion and love of children steadily grew as she identified with their energy and enthusiasm for life! This passion led her to the University of Edinburgh, where she met friend and business partner Georgie, to complete one year of Primary Teacher Training.
After this training, Bryony experienced a steep learning curve when she took on a full-time nanny and care role in Edinburgh for four children, all under the age of 7 years old! During this time Bryony found an environment in which she truly thrived and her desire to work in childcare became solidified and her hands-on experience honed. Bryony then went on to train in Child Development, focusing upon the promotion of child health, positive behaviour and child protection, alongside working as a nanny before finally moving to London.
In London Bryony began work in the office of a maternity childcare agency and it was there that she first began to formulate the idea of Like Minders. Always sought-after by both friends and family for babysitting, Bryony with her business savvy friend and soon-to –be business partner Georgie, identified a gap in the market where Like Minders could flourish and so together they set up the business.
With over 16 years working directly with children, Bryony brings her extensive childcare experience and expertise (from babysitting to nannying, trouble shooting to helping implement routines) directly to Like Minders. Dedicated to helping every family find the perfect person to care for their little ones, Bryony and Georgie together form an impressive team.
Bryony lives in Wandsworth with her husband and new-born son George.