Fighting the Battle Against Screen Time

battle against screen time

As new parents we will soon be confronted with the choices of media that we will allow our son to be exposed to. We already know that the days of looking at our smartphones at any given time are limited as we want to be available to our child at all times when he is with us and not fighting for our attention with a media device.

The New York Times printed an article today about how screen time continues to increase in children and at an early age. We don’t advocate a bit of television but access to media at anytime throughout the day might not be the best choice. This article also shows there is an “app gap” between upper and middle class children who learn how to use mobile applications to lower income children who just watch TV and a lot of it.

What media choices are you making with your family? Is it a necessary evil and how do you keep your children from consuming too much?

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  • Anonymous
    2 Nov ’11 at 9:44 am

    Well, to be honest, my son has language, motor, and sensory delays and some of the only things that seemed to reach him was the repetitive nature of Baby Einstein DVDs (we’re now on to most Pixar/Disney films with the closed captioning on, as suggested by one of his specialists to acquaint spoken language and written words as connected). His shows have helped teach him to talk where we couldn’t, and have helped to model behaviors in ways he comprehends and then reenacts in real life. Of course, this means my younger daughter ends up seeing a lot of TV for a one year old, but when she started to sign at six months without us really concentrating on it (we often watch a sign language DVD), we figured it couldn’t be all bad. But I’m not big on downloading apps to my phone because he’s a thrower when he’s frustrated so we try to keep the tech out of his hands. I’ve already lost one phone to him and we can’t continue to afford that trend. Perhaps as they both get older and have better motor skills we might get a tablet for them or something, but for now, it’s pretty much whatever makes them happy and helps them learn about the world.

  • Built by Kids
    2 Nov ’11 at 11:13 am

    Thanks for sharing Tabatha – I forgot to mention that it seems mobile devices such as the iPad have revolutionized learning and communicating for thousands of children and adults. 60 Minutes followed up the Steve Jobs piece with this segment and it was amazing. Great to hear that you’ve found something that really helps your son connect with the world. 

  • Kathy
    6 Nov ’11 at 2:26 pm

    When my kids were little, cell phones were just starting to be user friendly. Now that they’re teens, they’re never without the phone. TV ends up being less of a priority as they get older, and they value the interaction with their friends through media. If you set TV/media limits with your children when they’re young it becomes much easier to enforce limits when they’re older. Also, adults set the example; I don’t use my phone when I’m with my kids unless its an emergency. If we’re doing a family activity we’re engaged with each other, not with our phones or ipads or ipods. Of course they need gentle reminders (“put that away, now!”) but overall we try to keep the media to a minimum as much as possible. 

  • Built by Kids
    6 Nov ’11 at 10:45 pm

    Hi Kathy – We think you’re right about adults setting the best example. It’s not going to be easy as we LOVE our iPhones!

  • Rahel
    12 Jun ’13 at 1:14 am

    That’s interesting. In the world of neuroscience and other fields people recommend strongly that kids under 2 watch NO TV at all and this includes also Computer/ Phones… It has proved to hinder brain developement. I guess there’s always a exception… and it’s good that you found a way for your boy.

    All in all I keep my kids away from TV/ Computer. They watch maybe 1-2 hours a week- mostly at their grandparents. The youngest does not at all. The oldest will start school this summer and most probably will soon have to learn how to really use a computer- I have nothing against this, as long as it is not stupid computer games (even if they are being advertised as educating….).

    I grew up without a TV at home and I can only recommend it. Regarding the phone- I don’t use it much myself. I guess at a certain age the kids will (have to) get one themselves and then I will have to educate them how to not spend all the time textmessaging… real interactions are so much more important.