Is there always a discussion about screen time at your house? At my house, I’ll admit that we don’t really talk about it all that much. We’ve agreed that Lil Sprout learns so much from his screen especially when we have interactive screen time. This means that we are sitting beside him and discussing what he’s seeing and hearing. Recently, we decided to become more intentional about his screen time when we noticed a change in his behavior and demeanor. Intentional screen time became a must, and it was honestly quite easy to do with my very flexible child.
In December, our lives were turned upside down and the screen became something that was used more than it had been in the previous 22 months.
We were in a season of change. We were in a season where I was losing my last remaining grandparent, and we were about to introduce a new baby into the mix. Life was hectic. I was bouncing back and forth between the hospital, hospice, my grandmother’s home, and our home. We were literally only here a day here and a day there for over a month. It was a time when Lil Sprout had to deal with having a full-time caretaker that wasn’t his preschool or his mommy, and he did amazingly. The screen became a crutch though. It was something that kept him occupied while the adults dealt with a season that was beyond difficult.
Could it really have been more stressful than this? Yes! I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes during that period of time. Eventually, my sweet baby Squeakers came 3 weeks early. We were like 12 hours short of full-term. I was not prepared and overly emotional. We brought Squeakers home from the hospital only to have to return with her shortly as an RSV patient.
Throughout this, all my husband needed to work, and I needed to be in various places. Finally, we had to settle into life at home.
It felt like chaos in some ways, but it also felt pretty easy. Lil Sprout loved to help, and he was so easy going about changes in his life. He slept great when we traveled. He was a sweetheart at home. He loved on his sister. He was beyond stellar. Unless you wanted to take his tablet away.
Now, I don’t want to act like he was being a rotten kid. He would just scream that he was watching tablet RIGHT NOW! That meant you’d have to coax him to dinner. It would work though. He’d come to the table and eat happily eventually. He didn’t want to stop watching to clean up his toys. Could I really blame him? Sometimes, I just want to veg and not do anything either.
We are not anti-screen time. We actually support it. A screen helps us both to make our living, and he’s learning A LOT. The pediatrician is pleased with his development. We’re pleased with his personality.
It just became vital to set some parameters. Since we took his tablet away (after his one and only biting incident), he has been a changed child. He takes his trash to the trashcan on his own again, listens about dinner time, and runs around the house enjoying all of his wonderful books and toys. I look forward to watching shows on the big screen with him. Oh, you thought we took away all screens? No way! Now, we watch shows on the big television. It makes it easier for all of us to interact with the show. He’s still learning about more and more shapes and colors. We are still singing the alphabet song. We also use the imagination skills we learned from tablet time. It’s been amazing.
The biggest difference in his screen time now is our ability to provide intentional screen time. Our ability to interact with him and the screen more fully. It’s now a game.
So if you’re nervous about screen time, I hope you’ll forgive yourself little mishaps along the way and enjoy making it intentional by:
This is the #1 most pivotal thing if you ask me. It’s so important to know what your kids are watching and how it impacts them. It’s important to watch their cues and build on their relationship with the screen.
It’s important to know what the show or game is about. The Backyardigans is a favorite here because it’s about pretend play and has catchy songs. It’s also about playing and sharing with friends. I love it. Tumble Leaf is another favorite because it’s all about the scientific method and figuring things out. Creative Galaxy is one that helps them see that you can make things better with art! It’s all about looking at what your values are as a family and finding a television show that fits into that mold.
Not getting overwhelmed by setbacks
Of course, nothing is perfect, and you just have to forgive yourself those times. You may have to go back to the drawing board multiple times as you develop what intentional screen time looks like for you, but I’d beg you not to give up on it totally. Technology in and of itself is not evil. It’s how we use it.
What are some of your kids favorite screen time activities?