Parenting

An ode to screen time

So if you are a parent you have either read or heard what the experts have to say when it comes to small children and screen time. Most experts say a big fat NO to screen time for children under 2 because the research shows that an early introduction to electronic devices is linked to speech delays etc. For children 2-6 years old, no more than an hour a day is suggested. Great. Wonderful. However, let’s all be realistic here, sometimes we just have to allow YouTube to parent some days.

While I don’t dispute the research, I have no guilt whatsoever about allowing my son more than the suggested two hours a day of screen time. There are some days when I desperately need to meet a deadline and the tablet or tv is what I rely on to occupy him. However, it isn’t as if there are no rules. We created an e-mail for him to access YouTube, created a YouTube channel for him and then subscribed to a number of appropriate channels that show age-appropriate content. I would always be aware of what he is watching at all times, stopping him when I hear anything that sounded ‘suspect’  and I also religiously clear his history and block offensive channels. Some days when I have time I even snuggle up with him and watch videos he is interested in, so I have a handle on content. My friends who have small children police their screen content similarly.

The thing about the screen time debate is that those sanctimommies online are all about making any parent feel guilty if they, at any point in time, need a break from their children. To them, we should never be more than two feet away from our minions at any time or risk being called neglectful. How dare we need a break? Why would we want strangers (YouTube) to parent our children? Can’t you entertain your child and occupy his/ her every waking moment with a Pinterest approved activity? How dare we be not…perfect?

Yes, all of that and more. I am sure you have seen them on social media, flooding your timeline with well-lit pictures of all the activities that their child engages in and the preachy statuses about how they are proud of how little screen time their child has as if it is a competition. To them it is, but to us realistic moms, it is not. We just want to get through the day in the best way we know how. If that means our child watches some youtube kid unbox a gazillion toys or opens a similar number of surprise eggs, then so be it. We do what we do in the best way we know how.

I am yet to hear of any horrible effects of screen time from my friends so I think we are doing something right. It isn’t all that bad and I don’t think it should be demonized as it has been. Our children are loved and well taken care of and *gasp* all jump at the prospect of doing outside activities (despite the apparent fear that screentime creates screen-zombies). L is a very physically active boy but he loves his Youtube and his apps and I am here for the well-rounded kid who knows when to just kick back and relax and zone out.

Zoning out is cool; try it sometime 🙂

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