Why I Encourage Screen Time

To be (plugged in) or not to be. That is the question.

All parents are faced with it. Until recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that screen time should be limited to two hours per day. With so many educational avenues that are screen-based, I've always found that to be an undesirable goal in our home. And our children have never suffered because of it.

As an infant, K used to love to watch Baby Einstein videos. If she was seemingly inconsolable, we could put her in her bouncy seat and turn on Baby Mozart (if I was in charge) or Baby Bach (my husband's choice) and she would stop crying as soon as the caterpillar appeared. It was like magic. Once she was a toddler, she graduated to some of the other videos, such as Baby Neptune and Baby MacDonald. The first time she laughed spontaneously at something other than funny faces or being tickled, it was during one of the Baby Einstein puppet shows. Not only was it cute, but I knew she was learning. Colors, shapes, animal names and sounds...

After that, it was Leap Frog's The Letter Factory and Talking Words Factory. She also learned how to use the computer to play on Starfall. Did we regret all of her screen time? Did we do a disservice to her? Absolutely not! In fact, by the time she was four years old, she was reading Dick and Jane books. She continued to play her games and watch her shows, soaking in all the knowledge about rainforest animals that Diego had to offer!

H was usually by her side. In addition to what K was watching, H also gravitated toward reading shows. Her favorites were Word World and Super Why! Even now, as "tweens," they still occasionally watch Martha Speaks and Word Girl, which are both excellent for their vocabulary.

Now that I once again have a toddler in the house, things have not changed. J has his favorite shows, too. He likes Blue's Clues and Team Umizoomi. Team Umizoomi is his favorite, by far. At two years old, he is always counting and sorting. He sees the shapes that comprise everyday objects. He has learned all of his letters, shapes, colors, and numbers by playing iPad and iPhone apps. I set my phone down one day and was shocked to see him pick it up, find Netflix, and start watching Super Why!

Do I limit screen time at all? In a way, yes, but not with a clock. The kids aren't allowed to watch things like Sponge Bob. We monitor movies they watch. They have chores to complete. We encourage them to turn off Minecraft and play with their toys once in a while.

If I felt for a second that watching television and playing video games was interfering with their ability to learn and grow, I would absolutely unplug them. But that is not the case in our house. At least not at this point in time. So we will continue to allow it until we feel differently.

How does "screen time" look in your house? What rules do you have governing the television/computer/iPad?

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