Our Screen Time Philosophy
I'm not a "no screen time" mom. When Breccan was born, it was still the recommendation by many organizations, and I definitely had mommy guilt about it. Since then, more has come out about appropriate media usage for kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released guidelines prior to updating their policy on media and children that aligns quite well with what we were doing on our own.
Our rules around TV and how we use it are quite relaxed (we don't have prescribed time limits *yet*, but I do plan on instituting that as it becomes necessary). A few of our family policies and strategies are:
- Watching Together: When we watch together, we talk about what is happening. I like relating shows to Breccan's life and memories, or places we go and things we do.
- Critiquing: While media can be valuable, it is important to take some power away from it and to show that what we see on TV isn't real. I feel lots of problems with television and media come when we take it as reality. It most certainly is not. Especially when watching shows that are older and have outdated values, or values that don't align with your family's, it's important for your kids to hear you poking holes in that logic.
- Curating Media: We don't have cable. I think this is one of the best decisions we've made, since we can always select what is playing. I don't let him having unsupervised YouTube access, and I have turned off things I think aren't appropriate (usually too flashy or chaotic). As our boys get older, we will have less control; but one benefit of having a small home is that the TV room is well within earshot at all times.
- Reflecting: We often talk about things we've watched well after we've stopped watching them. Honestly, sometimes this can be a way to "cheat" as a parent. My son loves to jump in puddles, and he totally understands now that he can't jump in them unless he's wearing his boots, thanks to Peppa Pig. I feel as though things like this help with both basic comprehension and problem solving.
I usually have a healthy respect for the guidelines put out by experts on childcare. It is unusual for me to categorically throw something out the window like I did with screen time. Our happy, healthy, articulate, and well-behaved son, for me, is evidence that we're handling his media consumption correctly.