(Audio Version at the Bottom) This post is going to tell you all the do's and don'ts of screen time. What shows your kids should and should not watch, what games they should and should not play on their tablet and how much screen time is too much time. Here it is... Whatever works best for your children and family. Thats it. This is such a hot topic in the mommy space with some going as far to say that no child should have screen time and you are not doing what is best for your children if you have a television in your home. Right after you have your baby and go to the pediatrician they begin asking how much screen time your child gets since there are recommended amounts for each age. I remember being so scared because we often had Little Baby Bum on for Zeke as well as other music I would play through our TV. I was a new Mom and was constantly worried if I was doing the right or wrong thing for him. I am not a doctor but I believe "watching TV" is extremely subjective. 90% of the time the TV is on in our home, my boys have it on as background noise and glance up every so often while they are playing. As a baby when the TV was on my boys weren't looking at the screen, but instead were listening to the music which is imperative for so much developmentally, plus I want them to be a musician like myself and their grandfather, lol. Screen time is not a one size fits all and comes down to boundaries. When it comes to boundaries we all have different ones we set for things such as food, television, relationships, social media, purchasing habits, and everything in-between. Those boundaries are set based on our own personal needs...it is no different for children. Would you tell someone how much to spend or not spend on Amazon each month? Of course not. That would be ridiculous because there are way too many variables, plus...mind your own business (says the girl that gets multiple Amazon packages a day, lol). Some children may be overstimulated by screen time or you may see a negative change in their behavior if they have too much of it. Other children may learn and thrive from educational games and shows, it truly depends on the child. The only person that should be telling a parent how much screen time is too much is the parent themselves. Every family is going to have different boundaries for screen time and that is totally okay. One family may be anti TV where another family may have it on all of the time. When it comes to screen time, no family is doing it right or wrong. I have seen so many infographics circulating on social media (what else is new?...am I right? lol) that say that screen time is terrible and damaging for children. If you look up studies there are so many that have polar opposite findings and it can be very confusing. We can argue "facts" and "statistics" until we are blue in the face. My opinion still stands. The appropriate amount of screen time will look different for each child and it is up to the parent to decide what is best for their child. How can we say, "screens are terrible" or "2 hours is too long" when every child is different?
There are so many things that impact our children especially when it comes to the environment in the home. Although this may be more of an important issue for some families based on various experiences or needs of the child, I believe that generally speaking, there are much more important things to focus on within the home that impact a child's development and cognitive function. Some people choose to focus on one thing more than another, especially when it comes to judging other families that are doing things differently than they are. When I see a family that has a different structure than mine the first thing I notice is the love that child is receiving. Who cares that they do things differently than us? What matters is, that they are loved and happy...not what their bedtime routine is, if they have a stuffed animal in their crib, or how much TV they watched that day.
I am going to share with you what we do for screen time because I figure there will be questions but again, this is what works for us. No shame or judgement on any family that does things differently. After all, we are different families...things should look different! My boys are not interested in movies, of any kind. If the show does not have constant music, most of the time they will not watch it or even glance at it. Around here we stick to Little Baby Bum, Dave and Ava, Super Simple Songs and Blippi. Blippi was the first actual show without songs that both of the boys would watch although Zane is still not very interested. Typically the boys have about an hour-two hours a day of TV, somedays more and somedays less. When it comes to the tablet Zeke gets to play his educational games on it maybe once or twice each month. I keep it more for special occasions that may not be as fun like the doctor or the dentist or car trips. It is something that is not a constant in his life so he never asks about it and that is how we prefer to keep it for now. By the age of 2, although Zeke was not talking much, he could count to 20 (verbally and also visually could recognize and say each number) and knew his entire alphabet (verbally and also visually could recognize and say each letter). Now at 2.5 he knows all of his shapes, colors, says numbers all the way to 100, and also has a freaky memory. He can listen to a song once or watch a Blippi show once, and he will have the entire thing memorized. All of the melodies, the words, everything. We will be sitting at the table doing something else and without even seeing the show/song, as soon as it comes on he will begin reciting it. It is truly remarkable. I do spend a good amount of time, most days, working with my boys but he has learned so much from his shows and games and it is astounding. It is something that we believe is balanced well in our home for our boys and we have found what works for us! If you do not have a TV in your home, that is great, but that does not mean your choices are the "right way". It is what you have decided is best for your family, and no one can argue that. If you have the TV on non-stop because it allows you to spend time with your children while also working from home, that is awesome and you are a fantastic mom...no one can argue that. The comparison game in the motherhood space truly needs to stop. Lets focus on what we are doing for our own children and family before focusing on what other families are doing for their children. I don't know about you, but I am busy enough with my own children. I don't need to be concerning myself with how parents are raising theirs. We need to spend more time lifting each other up instead of loudly screaming what we believe is best for children. Do what is best for your children and I will be over here doing what I believe is best for mine...while supporting, encouraging and reminding you how great of a mama you are!