Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Screen Time

Welcome to the October 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Technology

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their families' policies on screen time.

Plenty people in my own generation were raised with a television as a babysitter. Its SO easy! Its so easy to start with just 1 thirty-minute show, then add one more because you need to get ______ done. Then you might start something else since kid is busy, then have to extend their screen time because their show ended before your task. Ugh!

Sasha was having so many meltdowns and I felt a lot of guilt over how much time she was spending in front of a screen. I knew it wasn't healthy and I began to suspect there might even be a connection. So first we just started cutting back. Yes, sometimes she cries (loudly) when she can't watch a show or play a game (she does both on our desktop computer). She often cries when its time to get off the computer. But I've noticed something...

She really doesn't have as many meltdowns as she used to have! I try to limit her to 2 sessions per day. She can have 1 show session and 1 game session. I prefer to limit to 1 hour each, but sometimes we lose track of time. I'd like to get an oven timer for the desk. Yes, we still go over, especially if we're trying to watch a more adult movie. And sometimes she gets extra time if Daddy is super exhausted or has a migraine and I have to go to an appointment. But overall, I feel really good about our limits.

At least she also [physically] plays while at the computer, right?

I keep thinking of creating two big tickets that look like they're made to get into a movie or play. One would be for a show, the other for games. And then she could have something very concrete to show her what she is allowed each day. I don't want to change rules too arbitrarily, that isn't fair to her.

All that said, and I did express that we're not perfect, she can still spend time with her "Lily Pad" (Leap Pad) between computer sessions. Yes, its a screen. She even has a couple of shows on it. But generally, she's moving about an its very interactive. We have not, as of yet, instituted any limits on that piece of technology. Since we've already seen meltdowns mostly disappear, I think we're alright with what we're doing.

Oh, she also watches a little Family Guy (or Cleveland Brown) with Daddy on the big TV before bed. And we often watch Signing Time DVDs in the morning until Daddy gets home! So maybe we're not SO limited, but its still an improvement from when she would spend all day on the computer.

How do you manage kids' time with screens and technology in your home?

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Has Technology Taken Away Childhood? — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama worries that technology is intruding on the basic premise of childhood - active play in all forms! Join her as she takes a brief look at how play has changed as technology becomes more integrated into the daily lives of our children.
  • Fostering a Healthy Relationship with Technology — Jenn at Adventures Down Under describes her children's love of screen time and how her family implements their philosophy and policies on technology.
  • Kids Chores for Tech PrivilegesCrunchy Con Mommy shares how tying chore completion to iPad privileges worked in her house to limit screen time and inspire voluntary room cleaning!
  • Screens — Without the benefit of her own experience, sustainablemum explains her family's use of technology in their home.
  • Screen Time - The Battle of Ideologies — Laura from Laura's Blog explains why she is a mom who prioritizes outdoor natural play for her kids but also lets them have ample screen time.
  • The Day My iPhone Died — Revolution Momma at Raising a Revolution questions the role technology plays in her life when she is devastated after losing her phone's picture collection from her daughter's first year.
  • Finding our Technological Balance — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she finds balance between wanting her daughter to enjoy all the amazing technology available to her, without it overwhelming the natural parenting she's striving for.
  • Raising kids who love TV — Lauren at Hobo Mama sometimes fears what children who love screentime will grow up to be … until she realizes they'll be just like her.
  • No Limits on Screen Time? Is that Natural? — Susan at Together Walking shares misconceptions and benefits of having no limits on technology and screen time in their home.
  • Screen Time — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares what is currently working (and what hasn't) regarding screen time in her household.
  • Positive Use of Technology with Kids — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her family's experiences with early technology, shares helpful resources from around the blogosphere, and speculates on what she'd do as a parent with young children today.
  • why i will never quit you, TV — How Emma of Your Fonder Heart came to terms with the fact that screen time is happening, and what balance looks like between real and virtual life for both her toddler AND herself.
  • Technology Speaks — Janet at Our Little Acorn finds many uses for technology - including giving her child a voice.
  • 5 Ways to Extend Children's Screen Time into Creative Learning Opportunities — Looking for a way to balance screen time with other fun learning experiences? Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares 5 fun ways to take your child's love of favorite shows or video games and turn them into creative educational activities.
  • What parents can learn about technology from teachers — Douglas Blane at Friendly Encounters discusses how technology in schools enhances children's learning, and where to find out more.
  • 5 Tips for a Peaceful Home — Megan of the Boho Mama and author at Natural Parents Network shares her favorite 5 tips for creating a peaceful home environment.
  • Technology and Natural Learning — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes about the importance of technology as a tool for natural, self-directed learning.
  • Babies and TechnologyJana Falls shares how her family has coped, changed their use of, relied on, and stopped using various forms of technology since their little man arrived on the scene
  • Kids and Technology — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about the benefits of using technology with her preschooler, and includes a few of their favorite resources.
  • Using Technology to Your Advantage: Helping Children Find Balance — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how technology can be used or abused and gives a few tips to help children learn balance.


  1. We let Gwen have a show in the morning, so she can relax before school, and a quick 5-10 minute video in the evening before bed. On the weekend sometimes she has a bit more, but we definitely try to limit, and her attitude is one reason.

    1. That is pretty limited! I'm always impressed by families that manage strict (or at least "drastic") limits. I think I'd love to be a TV-free home, but my husband is a movie-junkie, so I don't see it as a possibility at all! We do enjoy TV, but we also managed to ditch the microwave.

  2. I love the idea of having a ticket she can use - what a cute idea for littles!

  3. I agree. I wonder if you could even get them laminated so you could just use the same ones over and over! I might steal that idea from you. We are doing chores for iPad minutes, but I haven't really limited TV at all and I know I need to.

  4. Your post is a great and honest reality of the struggles of limiting screen time. At the end, you wrote "So maybe we're not SO limited, but its still an improvement from when she would spend all day on the computer" I think you acknowledged a key wisdom there, which is that we are all always striving for improvement.
    My daughter is 12 months and I read recommendations that kids under 2 should not have any screen time. Lots of families are able to stick to that, but I think many are not, including my own. If someone were to hold me up to that standard (no screen time), they might conclude that I have failed. Of course, I would disagree. Because I constantly strive to reduce our screen time. It's the effort that counts, right?
    I think it sounds like you are doing great things for your family. Your "ticket" idea (which is fantastic), just shows that you do put alot of thought into your child's screen time and are consciously aware of how it affects her.

  5. I remember when my kids were smaller - the year my son was born my daughter was 3. That winter I felt like we hibernated. I'm sure she watched LOADS of TV and played on the computer a lot. Honestly, it was really hard for me. I remember one week we set a record for not leaving the house - all five work days M-F. But also I got a lot better at being home.

    After that period it was like she was a butterfly coming out of a cocoon. She started wanted to do more things and see more people. It was amazing. She really blossomed that spring - and I've never been as concerned since about our "screen time".

    Keep up the good work mama! The early years are tough. And these issues are never easy to "figure out". Maybe we never do, we just get evolving and growing right along with our kids.

    ps this is Susan from Together Walking - I can't sign in from that account here. This links back to my other blog that I use mostly for pictures!

  6. It's so great that you observed your child and figured out what to do to help her regulate her emotional balance. It sounds like you've got a great system going. I definitely notice differences in intensity and trouble going to sleep if we've been too screen-heavy in a day.

    Love that she calls it a Lily Pad! :)


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