My son is only three-months old, and it’s already happened to me. Last week, as I was bouncing him up and down to soothe him, I kept looking over at a massive pile of laundry on our couch that had been waiting to be folded for about four days. I need to fold that laundry, but the baby wanted to play. So I threw in a Christmas movie, propped him up in his bouncy seat, and let him be entertained by the moving figures on the screen while I frantically folded our towels. Then it hit me. I couldn’t already be tempted to use screens to keep my kid entertained, could I? As parents, we are always trying to raise our kids right and in the best way we can. We diligently meal plan so that we can feed them real food, we try to keep them away from toxins, and we do our best to form them into well-rounded, kind, and generous people.
But sometimes we need a break. Sometimes there are things that need our full attention, and it’s difficult to devote our attention to those things with kids running around. And let’s be honest, sometimes we need a few minutes without someone touching us or asking for a snack in order for us to maintain our sanity. These are the moments in which we are tempted to turn on the TV, power up the computer, or hand over the iPhone. The screen-sitters, as I like to call them. Although we know that’s not what’s best for our kiddos, we are nonetheless inclined to do so. But there are other options, options that actually work. This post details how to limit your kids’ screen time without losing your sanity. Outlined in six practical suggestions, you can start implementing these today!
“I have a confession…
My kid has been watching Way too much TV lately…
I may be alone here… but I have a feeling that I’m not. I think we’ve all been there… you get into this sort of rut where the TV is an easy go-to for entertainment, distraction, babysitter, what-have-you. I get it, seriously I do. I feel like I am struggling in that rut right now… so I took some time to reflect on how we were able to manage our days with much less screen time (in a practical way!), since it really is so easy to just turn on the TV… and once you get in that habit, it’s even harder to break it!
First off… Why would you really want to limit screen time for your kiddo? We all know that too much TV time is “bad”… but what does that really mean?
Be mindful of how the habits your kids are creating now will affect them in the future…
For instance, (a little random… but stay with me…) a study done recently by the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed a significant drop in sperm count in males who spend more time in front of the TV (you may not be worried about this now, but how will this affect your children in the future?)
Aside from thinking ahead to whether or not you’re limiting your chances of getting to be a grandma (or grandpa) one day… 😉 there have been plenty of studies that highlight how TV affects the development of children’s brains, proving a correlation between increased screen time and delays in speech and communication, and changes in brain composition… along with a lowered IQ.
A study done in 2005 showed detrimental effects in children later in life, due to early TV watching… including lower scores on reading recognition, math abilities, & understanding comprehension.
An even larger study done in New Zealand showed that “television viewing in childhood and adolescence is associated with poor educational achievement by 26 years of age.” (source)
Besides cognitive and educational effects, screen time is also associated with an increase in all kinds of physical health challenges, including obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children 2 and under have no screen time (you read that right… zero, zilch, nada… and that includes Baby Einstein!). After 2 years old, they say only 1-2 hours MAX per day, and only “educational” programs, at that!
So, how on earth are we gonna make this happen mamas?!
Well… I’ve got a few (6 to be exact) simple suggestions for how to limit your kiddo’s screen time, while maintaining your sanity!”