Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that there are many different parenting styles. Instead of dragging other people down if yours don’t align, we should be learning bits and pieces from different parents and not judging them when they’re different. So today I’m re-launching Mom Talk as a series where a bunch of moms give their honest opinions on a single topic.
I teamed up with a few of my friends who write about their lives as moms. We’re kicking off the series this month with our thoughts on screen time, a topic that we have all struggled with before landing on a solution that works.
What do the experts think?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping babies and toddlers under 18 months away from screens completely. They say a little screen time can be okay for toddlers 18 months and up, and that kids who are 2 and older should get no more than an hour of screen time per day.
They also suggest that children under 2 don’t get any passive screen time (having a TV on in the background or using the TV as a babysitter) as opposed to something like letting them watch 20 minutes of an educational show as a part of their routine.
What do I think?
Never say never when you have a kid. I remember when I was pregnant, Anel and I said we’d never be the kind of parents who would order off a kid’s menu. Our kids will eat grown up food, we said. Oh how the tables have turned. Baby Gods everywhere looked down on us shaking their heads and chuckling. We also said we would never let her look at our phones or the iPad…
But before I share my opinion, please remember that it’s just that! I’m obviously not an expert, just a mom trying to do my best over here.
FaceTime: Anel’s family lives in Bosnia and a lot of mine lives in California, so we started making an exception for FaceTime because it’s very important to both of us that she knows her family well, even if she can’t be with them in person. That started at a fairly young age, probably around six months or so when she was able to interact with them. Before that, we would turn the phone so she couldn’t see the screen but they could still look at her.
Now we FaceTime with the Bosnian family once a week and with my mom every other day or so. She’s also obsessed with my little brothers and likes to FaceTime them for a minute or two every morning.
TV: We had never let her watch TV until last month unless we were on an airplane or if the situation on a road trip was really dire. And I was pretty strict about it. I had read a lot about this topic and got totally freaked out, so it was just one of those things that I prioritized. To be clear, I don’t judge anyone who does things differently, it was just our choice to do things this way.
But then last month, she and I had a bad stomach bug at the same time and I turned on the TV so we could both rest for a few minutes. We discovered Word Party on Netflix, and it has now become her favorite show. It is of course the only show she’s ever watched, but she loves it and talks about it non-stop.
We let her watch a 12-minute episode or two on Saturdays and Sundays, but for now don’t do any TV during the week. She gets to watch it after her nap on the weekend days and associates it with that time now, so she doesn’t often ask for it outside of that (yet). I’m not really that worried about it anymore since she’s over 18 months, but the reason I restrict it so much is because I’m worried that we’ll start to use it as a crutch and that it will turn into a problem down the line. My mom never let us watch more than an hour of TV per day through high school which is probably why I’m so crazy about it too. I’m sure this will change as she gets older and learns more about how to get her way.
I like that Word Party is educational and she learns new words in every episode. Once we blow through those, I want to start something else similar so send over your recs!
iPhone: This is where the biggest problem lies for us. Amalia lovessss to watch videos of herself, of Boots, or of anyone she knows. Apparently that’s a toddler thing. She points to my phone and says “Baby movie?” far too often. My solution for this is to try and keep my phone in the other room when we’re playing so it’s not top of mind. I let her watch them from time to time though, and am not strict about this anymore either.
Traveling: When we fly, all bets are off. We’ve flown with her twice since she was of the age to appreciate screen time and both times we tried to wait as long as possible before we flipped on the iPad but eventually did. On our last flight to Bermuda, she ended up watching over an hour but it kept her calm and quiet and like I said, all bets were off.
What do the other moms think?
What do you think?
I’d love to hear your opinion on screen time and especially how it’s worked for those of you with older kids!
Photo by Julia Dags.