Lately I have been struggling with the amount of TV Ev watches. I really want our lifestyle to support healthy eating and active living and we truly do our best but sometimes it can be difficult. Health care professionals and early childhood experts alike share the message that children (and adults) shouldn’t be exposed to screen time (that’s television AND any other electronic devices) for more than two hours a day. I feel confident that we are adhering to that recommendation and that Ev isn’t watching more than two hours a day and, on most days, not even coming close. But I’m starting to worry that we are instilling bad habits. It hasn’t been an issue until very recently because even if we wanted Ev to watch a program (so we could get something done or have some peace and quiet), it wouldn’t keep his attention for more than 10 minutes.
Ev went through a spell of waking up at 5:30. I physically couldn’t do much more than turn the TV on for him until I’d had an entire cup of coffee. He got interested in some PBS shows like Super Why and Daniel Tiger (at least they’re educational). But now Ev is requesting to watch TV. Last night after dinner, instead of wanting to play before his bath, he asked to watch TV, instead. I let him, but I immediately regretted it. I was thinking that he had played and been on his feet all day, who wouldn’t want to relax in front of the tube for a few minutes? But I don’t want to get him in the habit of watching TV before bed. Not only is it not the way I want him to end his day, I also worry that his recent nightmares may be related to watching TV.
But my screen time troubles don’t end there. Ev is quite savvy on the iPad, navigating to his “folder” and playing his games. While they are educational and he’s not spending more than two hours a day playing them, not even close, I still feel bad about it.
I called my friend who has a 3-year-old son and an (almost) 2-year-old daughter to find out what systems they have in place for controlling screen time, but they’re struggling, too. She shares my concerns, and her son is far more advanced on the iPad – he can actually find his way to Netflix or YouTube and watch videos! So after much deliberation and discussion with my husband, we have decided to keep doing what we are doing: keep the screen time at a minimum, continue to encourage active play and outside time and we will set more firm limits when it’s needed.