Should I be worried? My two-and-a-half-year-old daughter spends way more than the recommended two hours per day consuming various forms of media. She loves to flip through the pictures on my phone, can easily spend hours watching Peppa Pig on her iPad, and she learned to turn the TV on before she learned to walk.
According to all my friends and most pediatricians, I’m failing as her mother by encouraging her to build her tech skills when she should be outside building snowmen. All that fresh -25 degree air and the one or two kids she might meet at the playground are certainly more beneficial to her development than those stupid devices, right?
Right. And when I say “right” I mean “right” in the same way that more doctors used to smoke Camels than any other cigarette. I get that it’s bad for kids to spend 16 hours a day up in their rooms watching violent video games. After all, that’s what most mall shooters, school shooters and other shooters do before they snap.
But the thing is, while I hear everyone saying how unhealthy media consumption is for kids, I don’t see the harm. In fact, what I do see is a kid who loves looking at pictures of the people she loves. A kid who’s learning English from her British friend Peppa Pig. And a kid who knows to send her nicest drawings to the address PL 347, 33101 Tampere 10.
And now I see a way to inspire my daughter to not only consume digital media, but to learn to create it herself. Linda Liukas’s project, Hello Ruby, is a storybook and workbook that uses the power of storytelling to teach preschool-aged kids how to express themselves, their creativity and all the amazing things that happen in their little heads in the universal language of code.
As Linda says: “Our kids should learn to bend, join, break, and combine code in a way it wasn’t designed to. Just as they would with crayons and paper or wood and tools.” She might not be a pediatrician, but what she’s saying and doing sounds pretty good to me. After all, doesn’t every parent want their kids to know more and dream bigger than they ever did? I know I do.
So today when we get home from daycare, Lexi will watch Peppa Pig like she does every day. And tomorrow… well, who knows what tomorrow will bring. But with the right skills and that little head full of imagination, I have a feeling it’s going to be something amazing.