Parents it’s time we spoke about the elephant in the room... Screen Time.
There’s no secret that nursery rhymes are a part of most children’s early development years. Whether at home or in day care, singing along to nursery rhymes is a routine in most parts of the world. Children born in the last 15 years have been part of a new phenomenon - Screen Time.
According to research by Statista - the highest subscribed YouTube channels for pre-schoolers remain those featuring sing-along nursery rhymes (as of May 2020). This article believes videos for children are among the most watched content in YouTube history. Children today still enjoy the same nursery rhymes their predecessors have for decades, but now, it is presented in moving media.
The digital age and parenting
A new trend started to take shape in the early 2000s, where children were given access to smartphones and tablets to consume digital content. Without a doubt, this is a great method to keep a child engaged and giving some free time to parents. Screen time can also help educate children about a variety of topics.
What seemed like an innocent tactic soon became a cause for concern. By 2018, the World Health Organisation released research results with the specific focus on the effects of screen time on young children. The organisation issued guidelines that stated: 'Children under five must spend less time sitting watching screens, or restrained in prams and seats, get better quality sleep and have more time for active play if they are to grow up healthy'.
That year, the British Toy & Hobby Association announced results of a study that found a growing concern among parents on the effect of digital screens on their children. While 75% of the 1,500 parents asked believed that increased screen time was likely to make their children less sociable in the future, 65% were concerned about them being less active and 63% believed traditional unstructured play was very important for the proper development of their children.
I was finding myself running out of choices as friends and cousins of my daughter were swiftly transitioning from singing nursery rhymes to watching them on video streaming services. I searched the internet for physical toys that could allow Ayra, my daughter, to continue her love of nursery rhymes through active engagement, but I couldn't find a single brand that operated within the space.
And just like that fabula was born.
fabula has been born out of both, a global concern as well as a very personal choice to limit screen time for young children. But it is much more than just that - fabula is a choice about continual learning, engaging with music and to keep a child’s mind active at a time when they are most receptive. Each fabula product has been designed to help children who enjoy music continue to do that in the real, physical world with multiple, clear benefits:
1) Actively engage with music - Through singing or dancing along, children avoid the risk of digital fatigue. They can continue to reach the important milestones set out by the WHO around active play and proper development.
2) Offer all the known benefits of music exposure on early childhood - emotional, physical and social. Children can sing along to 'If you're happy and you know it', while engaging with peers and doing some basic physical exercise at the same time!
3) Help with verbal communication as well as language comprehension - instead of merely watching a song, now children can interact with the primary characters and essence of a rhyme through fabula products. For example, through 'The Finger Family' they can begin to recognise members of their own family or community, and appreciate the diversity and support they offer.
4) Learn important early life lessons - A lot of nursery rhymes help with some key life skills, and we keep that alive within our designs. For example, our 'Incy Wincy Spider' is cuddly, friendly and an all-round-good-guy. It's likely to be a fun protagonist a child can relate to, encouraging brevity and reducing the chances of an unnecessary fear of bugs.
5) Speak to children in their language of preference - I have witnessed, first-hand, that often a child can recite an entire rhyme by-heart even when they can't string a sentence together. So, in a way, nursery rhymes are often the first language of a child.