Yesterday (3/30/15) the Wall Street Journal reported on a new TV channel just for babies called BabyFirst. According to the article, “It’s Really Here: TV for 6-Month-Olds” BabyFirst reaches 50 million households. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends NO TV for children under the age of two, this is apparently not the trend. The article stated that children 2-4 years old average about 34 HOURS of screen PER WEEK. Yikes! It’s not like we’re missing the recommended target (zero screen time) a little bit. We are way off. That’s more than a day and a half each week or 73 1/2 days a year!
Interestingly, I read this article right finishing a two-week experiment. I recorded the number of hours my toddler (3 years old) and I spent in nature and the number of hours of his screen time. I did this mainly because his temper tantrum rate had increased to about 1 tantrum a day, lasting well over an hour. I was unsure what to do so I prescribed some nature therapy. What I found was that the more time we spent in nature and away from any screens, the less tantrums. Now I admit that there could be many other variables involved, such as not feeling well, travel, food, sleep, weather. Although I can’t conclusively prove it, I sure seems like more nature and less screen time has significantly reduced tantrums. I was so happy and inspired by the result that we weaned off of screen time almost completely. He still watches some TV here and there, such as March Madness with his Dad, but it is SO much easier to just say no – no screen time. Otherwise, I completely lose track and without even knowing it screen time slowly increases until it’s out of control. If, however, the idea of NO TV or screen time seems too extreme then you could still keeping a chart and track screen time. Post it on the refrigerator and try for some time with nature.
My heart goes out to parents and I know all about the TV temptation. My favorite screen time is at a restaurant when my toddler finishes his food in about 5 minutes. If I hand him my iphone and he becomes engrossed in YouTube or games, my husband and I can almost have a real conversation. It’s almost like a date! But at what cost? The last time we went out to eat I resisted pulling out my phone and we survived just fine. We talked more with our toddler and did not stay as long but I think it was worth it. And there were no tantrums.
How do you limit screen time? Is screen time out of control? What do you think about the new TV channel for babies?