Hi, I’m Paula. I’m a stay at home mom of two children and I abuse screen time. If you do too, welcome to Screen Time’s Anonymous!
Mom's Addiction to Toddler Screen Time
For me, the addiction started when I my second child was born.
I started putting the TV on for my 1 year old to keep him distracted so that I could keep an eye on him while I nursed the baby.
Since then I’ve put it for him when he starts getting too grumpy or jealous, while I cook or clean, or when his sister is sleeping and I need him to stay quiet.
When I count how much TV time he gets I feel guilty and disappointed in myself because I know its not good for him but I would never get anything done around the house (and regardless, I’m always behind on my house chores).
Although we haven’t let our kids use handheld devices much yet, the same applies.
Without screen/TV time how would we juggle everything or stay sane?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) say that screen time leads to slower brain development and lower psychological abilities as well as sleep disruption and obesity.
In one article they wrote, “New research being presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting suggests children [exposed to handheld screen time] may be at higher risk for speech delays.”
My Personal View
I cannot say that I disagree, I personally believe that a child that is hooked to a screen for a large portion of the day will be more interested in staring into the lights than communicating because there is a lack of call and response.
I think that’s why they invented shows like Blue’s Clues, Dora the Explorer, and, more recently, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, where the characters talk directly to the audience and encourage children to respond back.
Part of me doesn’t like my kids watching TV. However, some children can be, how do I say this politely, a pain in the ass, and sometimes and TV helps everyone take a breath.
I know because sometimes my daughter gets moody and I have to pull out youtube and play the ‘Pollito Pio’ video at least once. For our road trip a few months ago, I had to put it on replay so that she would stop screaming!
Sometimes playing a silly child based video can actually be good for them, not only does it calm them down when they’re moody, but my daughter learned a couple words from the video itself- speech delay my ass (sorry)!
All joking aside, as long as its not abused I think its perfectly fine. So I can accept the use of screen time and even love it sometimes.
Loosening Restrictions: Minimum Age of 18 Months
I feel like these guidelines against screen time were put out there much more strictly a few years ago but it seems the critics are starting to realize its not as bad as they thought.
They probably recently became parents themselves and started to value screen time for their children firsthand!
The pediatricians’ group loosened up their original stance against TV time. Although your pediatrician might still judge you, admitting that now is a “time of digital medias and screens” and instead of fighting it to embrace it but in a healthy manner.
Now the minimum age is no longer set at 2 years but instead 18 months because babies’ visual processing system is still developing and the effects of rapid-fire lights (usually LED’s) from screens are the main concern.
You could compare this to staring at the sun, people with astigmatism, driving at night with a migraine, or even if you spend hours in a dark room looking at a screen- you start to see spots, that can’t be good for you!
Can you imagine what that does to a child with developing eyesight and brain functions if exposed too long!?
AAP Screen Time Recommendations
Once a child is 2 years old their eyes and brains are a bit more developed to handle screens, with limitations of course.
The AAP encourages being selective about what your child is watching, it should be “high quality media.” Meaning, if they’re going to watch something then it should be age appropriate, non-violent, and educational.
They also encourage that parents be participative to prevent what they call “passive screen viewing.” Not just by sitting nearby but by communicating about what you’re watching, relating it to real-life conditions, and making sure they’re not “zoning out.”
It is also the parents’ job to set ground rules, like setting a limit of screen time (AAP recommends maximum 1 hour for children 2 and older, which most people will admit is unrealistic) and communicating when and how other people in the household use their screen time.
What Actually Happens Most of the Time
I think the AAP is probably right about this, however as much as I’d love to limit my children’s screen time to one hour a day, I can’t.
In most cases, I do not let my child watch for more than an hour at a time. But some days my child gets no screen time because we had a busy day and other days I go to bed feeling guilty for the excessive amount of screen time.
I do encourage communicating clearly that screen time is to be shared within the household.
I believe it is very important to establish boundaries but also that the child is not in charge of screen time, or in general, and that it has to be shared.
For example, on an average night my husband comes home and while I talk to him about his day and prepare dinner I sit my kids down and let them watch one of their shows for a little bit so we can have a short uninterrupted conversation. But once its over we explain that its mommy and daddy’s turn or time to watch as a family.
This doesn’t always go perfectly. Sometimes it results in tantrums and tears, sometimes they have mixed reactions of disappointment and understanding. But this method effective and very important.
Find Something Else they Like
The AAP encourages replacing screen time with pretty much anything else.
Recently my son has developed a love of jigsaw puzzles, where he can do them on his own without frustration.
After dinner we usually sit on the couch and watch TV as family. Now we sit down while he does puzzles on the ottoman. We also interact with him during his puzzle building.
Its a relief for me that he has this new hobby because my husband and I can do what we want without feeling guilty about having our kids watch TV for another hour.
If you have this type of pattern, I encourage finding something your child likes that is relaxing and cognitive (like building, coloring, or reading) for them to do while be around the family.
How does your family Manage Screen Time?
Do you see any problems or benefits of your childrens' Screen Usage?
What other things do your kids like to do quietly on their own that can replace screen time?
My name is Paula and I’m a mom of two scrumptious cuties. Thanks Mommy Blog became a project for me to help guide other new moms and current moms through any of my own personal experiences and struggles. My hobbies include singing, doing jigsaw puzzles, baking, designing and trying to stay creative.