Emma’s still a few weeks shy of turning 2, but we’ve been dealing with the “screen time issue” for months already. As in, she loves it — and I still haven’t decided how much is too much.
Growing up, I didn’t watch a lot of TV. I vividly remember being allowed a single 30-minute show on weekdays and later, “sneaking” viewings of 90210 on a fuzzy black-and-white TV in my bedroom when I got older. If I had a nickel for every time my dad said “TV will turn your brain to sawdust”…well, I’d have a LOT of nickels. Still, in the end, I think I turned out pretty well, and wonder if my lack of TV watching had some part in that.
Jose, on the other hand, watched a TON of TV growing up. Cartoons, movies, horror, violence, the works — he was never limited in what he could watch. And in the end, he turned out pretty well too.
And today? Well today, TV is only one small part of it. Now there are iPhones and iPads and YouTube and apps and on-demand and…yeah. A LOT.
I’m not opposed to screen time for kids — that should be obvious enough just from the photo above. Emma plays with apps on the iPad, we watch videos on YouTube (mostly of herself, actually), we watch PBS shows like Super Why and Daniel Tiger. I don’t really consider any of these a negative…
…but then, I worry. When we come home, Emma usually asks for the iPad within minutes of walking in the door. If we say no, she whines or cries. Earlier this week we let her watch a couple musical scenes from Mary Poppins, and each evening since she’s asked for more. “Mary Poppins? Mary Poppins?” It’s the same reaction if we say no — a lot of fussing. Even though I suspect she’s actually had average or even low exposure to media compared to other kids her age, she’s still clearly infatuated by it.
So I find myself questioning the aggregate a lot. If 1 episode of Super Why is ok, are 2 episodes too many? If 5 minutes playing on the iPad isn’t a big deal, is 20 minutes too much? Where do I draw the line? And what if my dad was right and HER BRAIN TURNS TO SAWDUST??
I’m joking about the sawdust thing…except in a way, I’m not. I don’t have an answer and I’m not sure if I ever will. Man, this parenting thing is tough.