Are we bad parents?

Just recently, there seems to be a lot of chatter in the news about children and screen time on electronic devices such as tablets, smart phones and even television.

Now I know that this topic isn’t exactly a new one by any means. But because this hot topic has hit the news outlets again, it got me thinking about how we do things in our house. Are we ‘Pro’ or ‘Anti’ screen time? Are we doing right by Jesse when it comes screen time? And are we bad parents if we let Jesse have screen time?

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Photo: Getty Images
Now there are two recent articles that I stumbled across on this subject, that I found quite interesting.

The first, an article by the New York Post titled It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies. This article talks about how screen time can be extremely detrimental to kids development and even uses a real life example of a mother who found her 6 year old son in a trance from having too much time on his iPad playing Minecraft.

The second, an article titled ‘Lisa Wilkinson says parents who let kids under five use screens are ‘crazy’. An article (and associated video) about how one of Australia’s most well-known morning presenters thinks parents who let their children have access to screens before they are five years old are “crazy” and that this lack of discipline will “come back to bite”.

So after reading these articles, I decided to do a little googling to see if I could find any common ground regarding if, and how much screen time should kids be having.

At this point I will say this, we are well aware that when it comes to kids development, nothing can replace the amazing benefits of active and outdoor play, reading books, educational toys etc etc. And these are all definitely activities we encourage Jesse to participate in everyday.

But, on the other hand, we do allow Jesse to have some screen time. It’s not a lot, but after these latest articles, we are again wondering if we are doing the right thing in letting him have this screen time.

So what does google say? Well it appears that the general consensus on many Government websites relating to parenting is, that children under two should simply steer clear of the screen altogether. Further to this, children aged 2-5 should have no more than an hour a day, and children aged 5-18 should have no more than two hours a day.

Now in response to this I say good luck getting a teenager to have no more than 2 hours a day of screen time. I will also say that many people believe that screens are just part of modern day parenting.

But after this google search my biggest concern now, is are we bad parents? Jesse is only 16 months old and we let him have screen time. And not only that, are we creating lifelong bad habits with Jesse by letting him have this screen time?

Now I will say that having an iPad in the car was a saving grace for us when Jesse was younger due to the fact he absolutely HATED the car. The only way we could get him to settle and not cry the whole drive, was to hang the iPad on the back of the chair with some Peppa Pig or The Wiggles playing. It would instantly settle him and stop him crying.

But now, Jesse has gotten into the habit of grabbing our phones, climbing onto our lap and waiting for episodes of Peppa Pig to watch. And while it’s incredibly cute, it’s a little worrying that maybe he is starting to expect screen time.

However, while he loves his Peppa Pig, he also loves to grab our hands and lead us directly to either the front or back door so he can go outside and play. He LOVES being outside, so much so that there has often been tantrums thrown because he couldn’t go outside when it was dark out.

Back onto screen time though, I have to admit that we also almost constantly have the television on of an evening and night. And while it’s mostly ABC Kids, again I am starting to wonder if the television should be turned off in favour of play and story time before he goes to bed.

With all this said however, it will be interesting to hear what everyone else’s thoughts on this topic are.

Do you let your children have screen time?

If so, how much screen time do you allow them to have?

If these recent articles have taught me anything, its that I need to be a little more proactive when it comes to Jesse and his screen time, versus having active and outdoor play, reading books and playing with toys.

In the end, both Renee and I know how we want to raise Jesse. But it is good to get a reminder about things like the negative impacts screen time can have.

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