Did you know that around 40% of 3-month-old infants are regularly exposed to some sort of media entertainment? The number jumps to 90% in 2-year-olds.
Why do I bring this up now, in a time when we are all stuck at home with little humans who constantly demand snacks and Cars2 for the 76235827th time (thanks, COVID-19)? Well... because as I was hitting play on Disney+ for my kiddo today, I got curious so I wanted to look at the research. We limit our kids' exposure to screens as much as possible. Not because we are some sort of perfect parents, but there is a HUGE difference in behavior for my son (4yo) when we do restrict his TV time. So basically, parenting is easier when the TV stays off. However, desperate times call for desperate measures so here it goes... Cars2 playing once again. I'll deal with the meltdowns later :)
But I digress, back to the research.
There is quite a bit of research on the subject and here are a few of the most important findings:
· media exposure in early childhood (before age 3) is associated with later problems with language development, cognition, attention, executive functioning, and school achievement
· it was hypothesized that infants and toddlers with self-regulation difficulties view more media, possibly as a parent coping strategy
· parental motivations to provide screen time during these years may stem from household or family characteristics (eg, single-parent household, maternal depression), beliefs in the educational value of media, and TV’s ability to keep children occupied while parents get things done around the house.
Since I am not here to criticize your parenting choices, but to offer some support in a difficult time, I wanted to give you some ideas that you can implement if you want to limit a little bit their screen exposure:
1. You don't have to ban all screens completely but it does help if you set some clear limits and you schedule the screen time.
2. Plan something exciting and interesting for when the screen time is over. "Alright, sweet pea, when the show is over, we are going to... *insert exciting activity* "
3. If you need to get work done you can schedule 'work time' for the kiddos too. Put a few books (10+) in a special drawstring bag and let them look and sort through them while you work. This may buy you one hour (if your kid is like my son) or 30 seconds (if your kid is like my daughter)
4. If you need to cook dinner you can have a 'YES' cabinet or drawer filled up with Tupperware or measuring cups/things that they can play with.
5. If you do want to make the best out of some TV binging, binge with them. Watch movies together, pop some corn, interact, ask questions. That way it isn't just mindless TV watching, it turns into an activity that brings you closer.
That being said... This is NOT the time to overly stress about how much time your kiddo spends in front of a screen. Do your best, life will (hopefully!) get back to normal soon! Until then... I'm sending you big, warm, virtual hugs!