Everywhere we turn we’re being told that letting our children have too much screen time is a detriment to their well-being. We are judged for giving them an iPad or other device to buy ourselves a few minutes of quiet. We are frowned upon if they regularly watch television. WHY? I grew up in a home where the television was never turned off. Truth be told JustaBXgrandpa still sleeps with the television watching him.
Just like you, I spend a lot of time worrying on if I’m somehow stunting JustaBXgirl by giving her screen time freedom. Don’t forget, last summer I wrote about ways to limit screen time. I still stand behind those tips but I want us to take a step back and really think about this. In excess just about everything is bad for us. We know this. And yes, children need to do more than just spend time with their eyes glued to a screen but for a moment I want us to talk about screen time with the idea that we’re not talking about excess. And what is excess, is something that you need to decide for your family.
JustaBXgirl pretty much has free reign on when she uses her iPad. She also has pretty open say on what she does when she’s on her iPad. I know, I know I’m a horrible mother! Stick with me here for a minute before you click off the site in disgust. The reason that JustaBXgirl has so much freedom when it comes to screen time is simple. She has earned it. Huh? How’s that.
I don’t worry about what she’s doing on her iPad because I know exactly what is on the device. I regularly go through her device to make sure her and her cousins haven’t downloaded something that I don’t approve of. Almost every app on the device has an education angle to it. There are a few that can be considered just for fun but even those I can find a way to connect back to learning.
She does have Kids YouTube and Netflix on the iPad but I don’t worry too much about those either. She prefers Kids YouTube to Netflix and my child is random. While she loves watching toy unboxings and people playing games. I still consider this educational because she wants to be a Youtuber and she learns what she likes in videos and what she doesn’t like by researching other channels. The other reason I’m okay with her being on YouTube is because she binges on things like Wild Kratts, Octonauts and KidsHealth videos.
She learns more from many of the videos she watches than she would just by spending time with me. Just the other day she was explaining to her Abuela that she is darker because she has more melanin in her skin than Abuela. She recently came to me and was excited to share facts on how cheetahs run so fast. In case you didn’t know, cheetahs are one of her favorite animals. She also recently learned that the stars don’t actually disappear in the day time we just can’t see them! It might be because she’s my little but she regularly impresses me with the random facts she picks up from her videos.
Oh, for those that are thinking how do I let her watch Kids YouTube without supervision, don’t fret. Anytime she’s watching a video from a channel she hasn’t previously seen she brings me her iPad to show me and to get permission to watch the video.
Another reason I rarely choose to limit screen time is because JustaBXgirl limits herself. Don’t get me wrong, there are some days when she feels like being on her iPad or watching DVDS or television from the time she wakes up until it’s time to go to bed. Be honest, don’t you have times when all you want to do is stay in bed and binge on Netflix?? I thought so. Normally though? Normally JustaBXgirl asks me to turn on the television less than three times a week. Normally, she wakes up and has some iPad time until I’m ready to start the day and will watch shows while she’s eating if nobody is sharing meal time with her. She might pick up the iPad at some point during the day but she might not depending on her mood that day.
My opinion on screen time might be different if JustaBXgirl was a different child. I’ve set expectations and ground rules for screen time behavior whether we’re talking iPad, TV or DVDs. I also spend time getting to know what she’s doing. I pay attention to what she watches (which is why I almost fangirled at Blogger Bash when I saw some of her fave YouTube families).
I think in moderation screen time can be a good thing. I also think it’s one of those topics that can reignite Mommy Wars. And I think that we all need to make decisions based on our littles and our families. Don’t just listen to my opinion though. Listen to what some other families are saying as well. Kids & Screens are just one of the topics that the Toy Association has included in their Genius of Play campaign. Genius of Play reminds us that play is a very important part of learning. It also reminds us that play can happen in different forms. In that sense spending time on their screens is just one other form of play!