Here it is the debate that will run and run when it comes to our little ones. I am sure people hold starkly opposing opinions and some float about in the middle somewhere. It’s a hot topic when it comes to our children, children of all ages and policing screen time is often the pain of a parent’s life.
It is a problem for parent’s of toddlers to teens. The age range in our house spans from 1 – 16. The 16-year-old is never off of a device of some sort, watching make up tutorial after make up tutorial. Zoella and Tanya Burr are big names in our house. The one and two-year old are also frighteningly tech savvy. Lately I have noticed that the two-year old is ever more engaged in actually watching an episode (or 3) of Peppa Pig as opposed to it being background noise. I take my children to a dance class on a Saturday morning and in between lessons the halls are filled with children from ages 5 – 15 sitting in front of their screens. It is something that literally affects children of all ages.
When you go out to eat you can guarantee that you will see at least 1, but probably a lot more, child sat in front of a screen, whilst parent’s try to enjoy a hot meal. Chances are it’s me. I always go out for a meal armed with iPads, stickers, pens, anything really that will help get us through the meal with some degree of success i.e. tantrums are minimal, food is eaten and bums are in seats more than 30 seconds.
I often wonder how any parent ever got anything done before the iPad or TV. My two often sit at the table with their iPad as I make dinner. They sometimes have some TV time to calm down before bed. They have unlimited access on flights or meals out and I am OK with that. I have found that actually they don’t want it for the entire flight or even at all when we eat out and I am OK with that too.
So what is too much? I mean nobody really wants their children to be sat in front of their iPad or telly all day. It is accepted that getting out and about in the fresh air and running around or indulging in some imaginative play is a preferable activity for our small ones, more stimulating. I accept that and I totally agree. Yet I remember having a conversation with a friend about the hardships of parenting, particularly in the early years. Her mum had said to her, some days you just have to get through it and if a day in front of the telly is how you do then so be it.
This got me thinking. I mentally beat myself up if my children are in front a screen for too long. Seriously I give myself such a hard time about it. I feel like I need to get the paints out as punishment for my sin or whack the oven on and bake the mother of all cakes with my snotty nosed twosome. But why? Both my friend and I agreed that growing up some days, not all days, all we did was watch telly. We’ve grown up to be functioning, successful adults who have gone on to procreate. We manage to get out and about and exercise, we take our children out daily and we can hold down a decent conversation with the rest of them. I don’t think those days of TV slumber ruined us.
What’s more is actually I really enjoy watching TV. I always have. Well, box sets, good TV series, Sex and The City, Orange Is The New Black, Grey’s anatomy. You name it I have watched it. So has Mr Tammy. We love to sit down in front of a good gripping TV series, Breaking Bad anyone? The Sopranos? Sons of Anarchy? It is nice to sit and enjoy it with someone. That said, it is not all we do. We love to go out, but ya know, kids. We run, go to the gym, go to work, blog etc etc. Our love of a good series does not stop us functioning.
So with all that in mind, should we really stress about letting our children watch a few episodes of Peppa Pig. If I enjoy it and do it when I can, why shouldn’t they? Providing, like mine, their screen time is mixed up with a healthy dose of other stimulating in and outdoor activity and that they are taught about moderation should I really be giving myself a hard time about it?
I think it is fair to say I am the in the middle category. I am learning to be happy (mostly) for them to have screen time, we need to eat after all, so long as it is in moderation. I would rather they didn’t sit in front of it for a whole day, preferring to take them out of the house somewhere. I also rather they play with toys and their imagination when we are in the house or the garden and that they read books, all of which they do. So if they flick through you tube and are entertained by trains popping out of a Kinder egg whilst I get the dinner sorted then so be it. I am OK with that.
Screen time isn’t the root of all evil and, if like everything, it is moderated then I am OK with it. Admittedly I feel less guilty about letting them sit in front of it after a full day out at Thomas Land but all screens are such a huge part of the world these days I don’t feel able or inclined to ban them completely but that is just me. When they are old enough to decide for themselves I have no doubt they will reach for a device. I would rather start them off now with moderation and supervision as part and parcel of the deal. As they grow older we have a no screens at the dinner table rule and I am mindful of the need for personal communication not virtual (I know ironic from a blogger), but the screen will not be subject to the all out ban in our house and I am OK with that. I am not saying I am right, I may well not be, but for us, it works.
What about you? What do you think is too much screen time? Do you let your children use the iPad or watch telly? Or is it banned? I would love to hear from you.