Following up on my post about our evolving toddler TV policy, I have a few other thoughts on kids and screen time that I wanted to share:
- The original post was in no way meant to cast aspersions on parents who let their toddlers watch more or less TV than we do. Rather, it was intended to be a “here’s one approach and why we take it” post. Just an example. As with most parenting choices, there’s a wide range of options that are perfectly fine. Unless you’re letting your two-year-old watch Game of Thrones, you’re probably OK.
- When we’re sick, the rules largely go out the window. I was feeling awful yesterday and Little Boy was getting over a bad cold, so we pretty much just camped in the living room and watched a rotation of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Curious George, and Sesame Street (for him), and Property Brothers and House Hunters (for me). Except for when Sesame Street was on, Little Boy got bored and played with his toys instead. I guess we technically weren’t violating our house rule against unsupervised TV, come to think of it.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy against screen time starts by telling us that children aren’t learning from TV before age 2. Which is fair, if a little conservative in my opinion. Baby Einstein isn’t going to make your infant a genius. The second part of the policy, though, warns us that parents speak fewer words when the TV is on, depriving kids of valuable interaction. Here’s the thing, though: In reality, it’s not a choice between TV and a pair of ideal, chatty, energetic parents. It’s a choice between TV and Little Boy’s real parents, who are sometimes tired, quiet, and introverted. If the TV wasn’t on at times, we’d probably be watching Little Boy play while scanning the news on our iPads. We do plenty of talking and reading and playing, but we’re real human beings and we don’t do those things 100% of the time, TV or no.
That last point is one that’s always worth bearing in mind, I think. In parenting, you’re rarely making choices between something perfect and something not. You’re making choices between two imperfect options and looking for the one that works best for your family. And that’s going to depend a lot on who you are, and who your kid is, and what your circumstances are. Anyone who says there’s One True Way is full of crap.