After a stomach flu that lasted five days (whatever happened to the 24 hour flu?), we are on a media diet around here. Big time.
TV viewing has never been much of an issue around here. Screen time is scheduled and time limited. It always has been. As a result, they very rarely ask for more.
But when they’re sick? That’s when the TV time increases. It’s not on around the clock, but the extra show or two here and there begin to add up quickly. Despite the fact that preschool programming really only runs about 18 minutes per show, the extra TV time gets to me.
Yes, I make sure to show quality educational programming. Yes, I only use the DVR and my kids never view commercials. Yes, I watch it with them so that I know exactly what they’re learning and processing.
Even then, it’s just too much. If the audio and visual stimulation is too much for me when I allow extra screen time, I can only imagine what it does to my kids.
The recommendation remains that children under two should not get any screen time, while young children ages 2+ should be limited to two hours per day. That’s total screen time. If your child plays video games, that’s part of the allotted time. iPads and iPhones? Also included.
Bottom line? Everything in moderation.
I’ve always felt that we have a good balance around here when it comes to screen time. The microwave timer signals the end of the 10 minute iPad time and the TV watching is limited to specific shows in certain windows. It works for us.
But a recent conversation with a friend got me thinking…
She toured our local elementary school and was surprised to learn that Kindergarten students are exposed to iPads. My husband and I had the same reaction…”great!” The fact is that our children are being raised in a tech savvy world; I would prefer formal and appropriate instruction early on. It keeps them current and provides useful skills for the future.
I can understand her concern, though.
While we are a technologically forward family due to our respective careers (and the fact that our children rely on Facetime to see their daddy when he tours), many families shy away from technology for other reasons. Equally as valid.
This same friend toured another out of district school that she loved for many reasons. With a heavy art focus, it truly sounded great. Apart from one small catch. The school requires that each parent agree to zero media time during the school week. Zero. Zero TV, zero iPad, zero anything with a screen.
I believe my gut reaction was, “what happens if you get caught?” Clearly, this rule is not for me.
As parenting expert and therapist, but more importantly as a parent, I’ve always believed in everything in moderation. Too much of anything is not a good thing (except love, you can never get enough of that), but too little (or zero) leads to heightened curiosity and can lead to negative behaviors (lying to get the coveted item, overindulgence when it is permitted, etc.).
It’s like the diet that completely restricts carbs during the week but allows for a “cheat day” on the weekend. Down goes the super size fries on Saturday.
Everything in moderation.
In practice, I see both sides of it. I think it’s important to monitor what is being watched and what the kids are taking away from it. I have vetoed certain shows due to heightened arousal post viewing. Wow Wow Wubbzy is just asking for ADHD, if you ask me.
But Mickey Mouse Clubhouse teaches social skills and problem solving, Team Umi Zoomi teaches early math skills, and Super Why teaches early reading skills…there are skills to be learned during those 18 minutes.
And as a mom of two who functions as a one-woman team much of the time…I need to take a shower sometime. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to the rescue. Or do the dishes. Cue Team Umi Zoomi.
As for that post stomach flu media diet? My daughter welcomes it just as much as I do. She’s tired of the TV too…
Everything in moderation.
What is your screen time policy?
Katie is a Child & Adolescent Psychotherapist/Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA. She has a five year old daughter, three year old son, and a rock and roll husband who makes her life complete. Katie has a parenting advice blog, Practical Parenting, and can be found on Twitter. She also writes for moonfrye.