Bedtime With Facebook

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A Brief History

On February 4, 2004, Mark Zuckerberg launched “TheFacebook”, originally located at thefacebook.com.  For many Americans, part of their bedtime ritual is to check Facebook for any new messages from friends and family prior to going to bed, but what was your bedtime ritual when you were a child?

Perhaps some milk and cookies, brush your teeth and then climb into bed, and wait for your mum or dad to come up to read you a bedtime story?  That could still be the case or similar for a lot of children, but for many others it is not. Some parents are struggling to find that time, so teachers at a school in Harlow, Essex, have taken action. They have started reading stories to children and streaming them live from Facebook in the evenings. To add extra authenticity, they dress in pyjamas for the reading and some will also sip cocoa while they read the stories.

Digging Deeper

The teachers, who work at Latton Green Primary Academy, then post the videos, which last for 15 minutes, on Facebook and encourage the children to follow the story up with some reading of their own. The teachers see their initiative as a way to support parents who wish to see their children spending less of their time on computer games.

It is an interesting approach and the teachers are not the only ones to reading stories in the evenings. A teacher in Texas has also been doing this and has attracted quite a following.

Is this the way forward or should parents make more time for their children?

Mother and daughter and Mother’s Day card.  Photograph by Dave Parker from Tracy, CA, USA.

There is no doubt that what these teachers are doing is noble and the public is to admire them for their dedication and commitment to their profession. The question is, is it their job to be taking on this kind of task? Should teachers be stepping in where parents are unable to?

Alternatively, is it okay for parents to leave it up to the teachers? Should they find a way to make more time for their children? One of the teachers at the school has commented some parents have let their children sit and listen to the live story, and have then sat down with them to read a further story, so there is clearly some benefit in the approach. There is also been research in more recent times that suggests the amount of time we spend with our children has no impact on how they turn out.

Undeniably, though, in the fast-paced world of today, there will be parents that struggle to find that time. Some people out there say it is possible, however. A child’s early years are precious and no parent likes to miss them if they can avoid it. If you are a parent with it all to do and are wondering how you can make that extra time for your child, fear not. Employ the tips below:

Get up earlier than usual

“The Awakening”, an illustration to writing by Leo Tolstoy

Do you have to take care of the school run and then dash off to work? Why not get up a little earlier so you can share breakfast with the kids? Sometimes parents are so busy whirling about the house and getting the kids ready that they, themselves, are not sitting down to have breakfast. They just grab something on the go after they have dropped the kids off and charge to work. Set your alarm a little earlier than usual, wake the kids up 15 minutes before their normal time and enjoy a pleasant family breakfast together.

Create one-on-one time

Mother and child in Cambodia.  Photograph by Adam Jones (Adam63).

One-on-one time is really special time for you and your child(ren). If you are really so busy during the day that you do not get the time you would like to be with them, set aside special moments in your free time that are all about you and the kids and nothing else. That could mean making every Saturday a cinema day, an excursion day or any other activity that you and your child(ren) enjoy doing together. You can allocate each of these days to each of your children if you have more than one child and then make one day all about doing an activity together.

Make things together

A roadside lemonade stand in Georgia, July 1975, also selling squash and cucumbers.  Photograph by Al Stephenson.

When there is work to do around the house, the conventional approach is to get the kids out of the way (in a nice way!) so you can get on and do the work. You are struggling to find time to spend with the kids just now, which makes this a golden opportunity, especially if you are making something new. You could be putting a piece of children’s furniture together for their bedroom, for instance, and this is a fabulous way to get them involved and finally secure that quality time together you’ve been craving.

 ‘Ghost’ time

Cover of Casper the Friendly Ghost #1 (March 1991)

Okay, you cannot always be there when you would like to be, but that does not mean you do not love your kids and you have to make that crystal clear to them. One way to do so is by spending ‘ghost’ time and making them feel like the special little people that they are. You can record a short video for them to enjoy while they eat their breakfast or you can write little letters and place them in their school lunchboxes. Get creative.

Learn to say ‘No’ more often

First Lady Nancy Reagan speaking at a “Just Say No” rally in Los Angeles, 1987.

Easier said than done, but it’s important to be able to say ‘No’ more often. Can a work assignment wait until next day? Do you really need to attend that birthday party? Saying ‘Yes’ to everything will soon take big chunks out of the time you spend with your family, but remember by saying ‘No’ to one thing you’re saying ‘Yes’ to another. This is an important step in prioritising time with your children and you won’t find it hard to say this one little word more often once you’ve done it a few times.

The issue of how to raise children and how much time to spend with them is always a tricky one. How many times have you heard the phrase ‘There’s no manual’ or similar? It would appear, however, that it is better to spend quality time with your children than to not do so, despite what research to the contrary might suggest. The one thing you can be sure of is that if you make time for them, you will never regret it, whereas if you do not then later down the line the regrets may well set in.

Question for students (and subscribers): Do you go on Facebook prior to going to sleep?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Kirkpatrick, David.  The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World.  Simon & Schuster, 2011.

Reiss, Benjamin.  Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World.  Basic Books, 2017.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by Olybrius of a French teenage girl texting while reading Blue Exorcist (青の祓魔師) by Kazue Kato, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

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