From the beginning I knew I didn't want Kinley sitting in front of the TV at a young age. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends no screen time until 2. You can read more about there recommendations here. We made it 15 months with no significant time in front of a screen. In times of need she was allowed to listen to music on our phones and or place an educational app if needed.
When I was little there was not much TV. I don't really remember my parent's restricting our screen time, but more so just not wanting to watch TV. We had the desire to be outside, or playing doctor, school or airplane if we were stuck in the playroom. I don't feel like there was a desire to watch TV or be on the computer when we eventually got one that we were allowed on. Though I do remember waiting patiently for my turn on our computer with the dial up Internet to come up. It was so exciting.
Today so much has changed. When it comes to my husband and I we probably spend entirely too much time on our phones and computer but we are trying to get better and hey this post isn't about what I do :).
Today's world is so different when it comes to technology. The computer is some children's life line. There are so many positive aspects of having the technology we have today. It is saving lives! I think there is a definite difference in letting children benefit and learn from technology vs. developing a dependency on the screens. As parents we all want what is best for our children, so what is best? How do you find that happy medium?
It is unbelievable how much my daughter already knows about technology at 20 months! You would seriously think she sits in front of the TV all day long or playing games on my phone is the only thing she does. It is scary to me! She watches what we do a few times and picks up on everything. It is quite amazing! I promise she does many other activities that she loves, she is just smart! The kid didn't even watch her first show until she was about 15 months old. We tried making it until the age of 2 but life gets in the way at times and sometimes after trying every other thing under the sun I give in. Choose your battles wisely right :). I am not perfect and neither is my child, but we do our best and we do what works for our family.
I have seen her throw herself on the floor with the most dramatic tantrum ever because #1 I will not turn on the TV or #2 she can't have my phone. It is awful sometimes. It makes me regret ever giving her the phone. On the other side of that though there are great learning apps that we love and sometimes I really need 10 minutes. Yes I am sorry I am human! In the mornings it is just her and I and sometimes this momma needs a shower and there is no other way to keep a 20 month old from taking everything out from under the sink and putting it in the toilet while I take the faster shower of my life. They are fast little stinkers I tell you! So yes I give her my phone to learn her ABC's while I take a shower.
With all that being said I have discovered some tips that have helped me find a balance with benefiting from technology and developing a dependence on it.
1. Have Guidelines
Kinely knows when she gets up she is allowed to watch 1-2 shows, it depends on the time she gets up because at 7:00am I don't like the shows that are on so the TV goes off. I really have no clue how we even got in this habit but it is part of our routine, so for right now she is allowed to watch PBS while she eats her breakfast and drinks her milk. We don't have cable and for the most part I think the shows on PBS are great. When she watches TV it is Sesame Street or Curious George. She loves Curious George. She knows that after Sesame Street is over the TV goes off and it is time to find something else to do. Most days the TV never gets turned back on. There are some nights she watches a little George before her bath. I am pretty strict about how much TV she gets to watch. I don't like her being glued in front of the TV for a long period of time and plus it isn't good for her eyes. So we will always limit screen time. She rarely gets our phones anymore because she just loves it too much and it was starting to bother me. Like I mentioned above if I have to take a shower or do something where I can't keep my eyes on her the chance is I will give her my phone. I have a few educational apps that she loves and I am ok with.
I do believe there is a difference if she is learning and interacting with the screen she is watching. Like I said there are some great educational apps out there; we love the Fisher Price apps and Speakaboos. She also loves looking through videos and pictures. I do think that is learning because we talk about all her family that isn't close. That way she knows who I am talking about when I tell her we are going to Colorado.
2. Get excited
Getting excited about doing puzzles, reading books, coloring and building towers with blocks helps. Of course there are fun other indoor activities but those are some of our favorites. When I ask Kinley if she wants to do activities I make a big deal about them. I want her know I am excited too! It is extremely important to us to have Kinley not want to sit in front of the TV when she starts getting bored. There are so many fun indoor activities that can stimulate her mind. One of Kinley's favorite activities is to read books. She absolutely loves them! I really need to get a new book shelf to hold all the books we have. We also visit the library frequently for story time and to just hang out and pick out new books. They have many activities going on that don't include a screen. She LOVES going to the library and our library has the best children's section. We just finished our first story time at our local library and it was fantastic. We can't wait to sign up for the fall session. And it's free!! Win Win!!
We want her to play outside and know other activities are just as fun. Like I mentioned I never watched TV as a kiddo, I was always outside. Riding my bike, building snow forts, playing in our tree house, or just hanging out with friends talking...outside. Kinley really enjoys being outside. We have a few outdoor activities to include a sandbox, a water table, a sprinkler, a kiddie pool and chalk to name a few. Almost every night we go outside after dinner and draw with chalk. We have so much fun! As you can tell Kinley loves chalk and daddy is quite the artist. During the days it has been pretty hot, but we have some trees in our backyard that provide a lot of shade so I set up her water table and she plays away. We also have a park within walking distance that we visit often as well. Right now we go early in the morning before it gets too hot because it gets very sunny. Read more about our fun in the sun here.
Those are a couple quick tips that help me balance a little better. I do feel it is important to let Kinley understand what technology is and how to use it. Yes yes I know she is only 20 months, but I firmly believe instilling balance right now is important. There are definitely positives on both sides, though I want Kinley to know she can make friends by talking to people and not by her face stuck in a computer. Ironic that some of my best friends I met online and I am sitting here typing this with my face shoved in a computer :). But...we are talking about balance, I have many friends that I met face to face. Lets be honest though, I think we all could benefit from unplugging a little more often. I want to be a good example for my child so I will always do my best.
Have you seen that new Nature Valley ad? I do not want my child saying her favorite thing is to sit in front of a TV or computer screen. Oh my!!!
What are some ways you find balance with allowing your kids screen time?