When JJ was 5, he used to love watching Ninjago. It was a weekly half-hour show about Lego ninja that he looked forward to immensely.
Whenever the show came on, my first thought was always that I could get a few things done while he was watching it–like cleaning, getting dinner started, or finishing the laundry. But really, the show was just not long enough for me to get a lot of tasks done. Throw in the fact that I had to help him fast forward through commercials, and my time spent doing anything else was not very productive. So although I didn’t have a huge interest in ninja or cartoons, I ended up sitting down and watching the show with him every week.
After a season of doing this, I could tell you exactly how much my son LOVED this series and why. I knew what his favorite parts were and who his favorite characters are. Because I’d seen the episodes, I understood exactly what he was describing to me when we played “ninjas” during our daily one-on-one time.
As we watched the show each week, we’d talk about it and say things like, “Uh-oh! Now what’s he going to do?” We laughed at the jokes together, and made guesses as to how the episode would end. When the characters treated each other rudely, I’d say, “Oh, why did they do that? I wonder how the other guy feels?”
I was so surprised at how watching this show together helped JJ and me grow closer. I often feel worlds apart from him in our interests and personalities, but even that small weekly bit of TV time together helped us understand each other. He understands that I can appreciate something he loves, even if I don’t love it as much as he does, and I understand a little bit more about what makes him tick.
Screen time doesn’t have to come between parents and children! Use it in a way that helps you get to know each other…sit down together, watch it from your children’s perspective, show an understanding of why they like it…It’s possible for screen time to help bring you closer together.