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screen time

Hoo boy. The phone. We all have a problem with it in today’s society, but especially the toddlers.

When he was a small baby, I never let him touch it. My thinking was more along the lines of not wanting it to be smashed on the floor or drooled on. I don’t remember if my intention was to keep it away from him forever.

Then I started showing him photos of himself, of his grandparents, other family and friends. He quickly learned how to scroll. He started asking for it, calling it “On.” “On?” “ON?!?!”

For a long plane ride, I bought a couple of apps, including Little Fox Music Box (interactive songs and a music studio full of animals) and My First Words, a pop-up book with words, images, sound effects. He loved loved loved them. Next he learned how to scroll to the app and start it up. If he got an error screen he’d bring it to me for help.

After our summer vacation, he became so enamored of looking at photos of his cousin that he started calling the phone by her name. With as much desperation as “On.” He is elated to see the photo and then sits down to open every single app on my phone. I’ve caught him watching Ted talks.

The other day I found him watching his own birth video and feel that I need to draw the line!

I now realize that giving him a little screen time is like giving him a little crack. He’s now mastered “phone???” And asks for it whether or not he can see it. He wakes up and asks for it. Who can blame him? We are all obsessed with it too. I do everything on it: talk to family, take photos, look up recipes, play music, communicate about plans, answer the phone! How can I subtract this out?

Giving it to him ends in a tantrum when I take it away. The other night we watched a little bit of a new Netflix show called Puffin Rock- so freaking adorable. I want to watch it with him. I was using it so I could cut his nails but can definitely see the benefit of TV- he is still and calm. Mind you, I’m not a TV watcher and haven’t had a TV in years- but I’m struggling with this phone/ipad struggle.

I sure wonder if anyone has come up with a solution to this, outside of zero tolerance which just seems unrealistic to me. Meanwhile, I’ll be sneaking phone moments, taking fast pictures, and limiting sessions despite the disappointment. We just can’t overshadow childhood with dumb technology! Time to get outside and play!

But sometimes I’ll say yes because it’s easier. Hey! I’m a solo mom. xo

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8 thoughts on “screen time”

  1. Today I saw kiddie IPads in Targert. At first I thought it was rediculous. But maybe if he had his own you could say he can only use his and not yours and then control how often he can play with it.

    But what do I know. I’m still TTC 🙂

  2. I was just grappling with this myself. I have an old portable DVD player that I hide bc E becomes a nutcase with it. And worse he loves to press all the buttons which ends up turning off he DVD and pissing him off. But apparently cause and effect doesn’t stop him from doing it. He just wants me to come over and help him over and over. Anyway today was a rough morning and I bribed him into his car seat with it! First time I have ever had him watch tv in the car! Bad habits but sometimes a matter of survival as a mama. (It’s how I make dinner and prepare for the next day!) but it’s clear that he still prefers being outside. He’s at his happiest there! And we will be milking our outdoor time as it is coming to an end quickly here! Cold front moving into the front range! Screen time is about to increase. 😉

  3. Nice last line.

    I let Santi watch you tube while he was very sick for two weeks. I saw the crack effect and went back to cold turkey nothing. I’m inly home and awake with them for two hours in the morning and three hours at night. I try to not have it in sight.

  4. Wig, I’ve never figured this one out, 15 years in. I’m lax, but not limitless, and its arbitrary. So my rule is to trust my instinct. Sometimes I get a flash and think, “too much!” and then I say its 3 more minutes until the end of the game. Same instinct as “time to go outside!” and sometimes, “time to change activity.” If I was thinking through this carefully, I’d come up with another rule or regulation. But sometimes, as we all way WE need THEM to have screentime and everyone’s happy. xo Wig

  5. OK, I never comment on this blog, just send private emails when I’m so moved, and I try to avoid pontificating about parenting….. but I have incredibly strong feelings about kids and electronics, and you asked, so…. will try to keep it brief. First of all, every parent should know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended amount of screen time for children under 5 years old is….. ZERO. That’s zero hours/minutes/whatever per day/week/whatever. Not that anything over zero will harm anyone for life, but that’s the recommendation from the leading American organization of people-who-know-a-lot-about-kids. Some other thoughts: I was raised in a home with no TV, so it seemed normal to me, and I did all the other things kids do– read, imaginative play, draw, listen to music, etc. My parents made NO effort to control my TV consumption outside of the house, and since there was NO TV in our house, there was no power struggle about it- brilliant. My TV time was drastically reduced, I picked up some mainstream culture (Gilligan’s Island re-runs!) from watching at friends’ houses, and… no child-parent power struggle. I was a solo mom until my daughter was 5 and we had no TV– she learned how to function without screen time, and when I got married when she was 5 and we moved into a house with a TV (spouse has to be able to watch sports on cable), it never occurred to her to turn it on. Still hasn’t occurred to her, 10 years later, though she does watch god-knows-what on the laptop we got her in 8th grade so she could do homework and have age-appropriate communication and media experiences. I admit I’m old-fashioned and pretty anti-tech, neither own or want a smart phone, and my now-15 year old does want one but doesn’t have one– I don’t think she needs one, so if she wants one badly enough, she can figure out how to pay for it. Last thing before I shut up– I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in early childhood trauma and attachment issues, and there’s a lot of concern among attachment experts about the impact of screen time (parents’ as well as kids’– think of all the parents you see at restaurants, bus stops, everywhere, staring at their phones while their babies sit there in their strollers staring off into space, when 10+ years ago the parent might well have been interacting with the baby, if only for lack of anything “better” to do) on children’s development of social and emotional skills. It’s a big deal– hard to overstate. Sorry about the tirade, and thanks for opening up a space for dialogue on this super-important issue.

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