Screen time: Recommendations vs Real life

My children are nowhere near old enough for the “birds and the bees” discussion (lucky for me.) The oldest two were old enough during my last pregnancy with my youngest, Kameron, to understand that she grew in my belly. They used to love feeling her kick and seeing her move. 

While eating dinner over the weekend, Ashton informed me that she did not like it when she was inside my belly. Knowing that there is no way she actually remembers being in there, I asked her, “why,” and waited for her response. Per usual, I was not disappointed. 

She said, “I didn’t like it there because there wasn’t any T.V.” 

We love a good show over here and I try to schedule a family movie night at least once a week, but this remark had me wondering if maybe they were getting a little too much time in front of the television. 

I have never claimed to be one of those moms who limit the girl’s screen time to an hour or two every day, which is what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. I get it. Going overboard on the screen time leads to obesity, irregular sleep patterns, behavioral issues, not enough fresh air and active playtime.  

I would be lying if I said that I did not hand my child an I-paid while I cook supper or get some work done. I totally do not judge the parent who sits their child in front of the television to try and get them to quit screaming or to just have a few minutes to themselves for the day. 

In my opinion, not allowing children to experiment with electronics may harm them in the future. It is just the way of the world now. Everything is digital. For example, my oldest is in the third grade and must complete almost all her schoolwork and homework on a Chromebook. This was a major learning curve for the both of us when she was participating in the virtual program the last two years after Covid. 

My children have definitely benefited from different high-quality types of programs over the years. When they were younger, we watched shows with lots of music and storytelling. Now that they are a little older they enjoy more interactive shows or apps.  

I have spoken with them about internet safety and have all the parental controls enabled. I know that does not filter everything, but I feel I do a pretty good job of vetting what apps and shows they get to use. It is good practice to do your research beforehand by checking out ratings and reviews. There is also a way to set a daily time limit per day or curfew on their devices that locks them out or shuts them down automatically and I take full advantage of those features.

It’s not a one size fits all type of thing, but I think the quality of the media they are watching is way more important than the amount of the screen time they are getting. Emerson and Ashton are involved in extracurricular activities, and they love a good book. It is all about finding that balance and what works for your family. 

(Paige Nash is a wife, mom and journalist for The Webster Parish Journal.)


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