We’ve all heard the endless debate on screen time for kids. I will be the first to admit, lately Lucy has been watching too much TV. Call it survival mode on my part, but the past few months have been really rough on everyone. When you’re sick and can barely get off the couch, you do what you gotta do to get through the day. This unfortunately means, more screen time then I’d like to admit. Of course in an ideal world, I would limit her to an hour or so each day, but this pregnancy has changed that drastically.
One thing that’s helped me feel a bit better about all this screen time, is monitoring what she watches and being more picky. For example, there are plenty of really great interactive shows these days for kids of all different ages. A few of Lucy’s favorites are Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger, Dora the Explorer, Super Why, and Little Einsteins.
Sesame Street has actually taught Lucy several great lessons already. They had an episode on how and when to approach dogs when you come across them. They taught her to never sneak up on them, and always go in slowly for a pet. It’s so cute watching her approach a dog, ask the owner if it’s okay to pet them, then go in slowly from below and pet gently. I couldn’t have taught her any better myself. Thanks Elmo.
Daniel Tiger is one of my personal favorites. If you don’t know yet, Daniel Tiger is an animated version of Mr Rogers Neighborhood. They teach so many great lessons, and always have a catchy song to help remember each lesson. My favorites are the “It’s okay to feel two feelings at the same time” and “Keep on trying, you’ll get better”. It teaches them how to deal with new experiences, friendship, disappointment, sharing, and even how to appreciate everyone’s differences. With so many great lessons to be learned, Daniel Tiger is okay in my book.
Dora the Explorer is great to learn some Spanish and problem solving skills, Super Why is the best for teaching them how to read and solve problems, and Little Einsteins exposes them to classical music and all different forms of art.
Then there are shows that are just not good for your kids to be watching. Curious George, is one I have found that I don’t especially like. It’s about a monkey who climbs everything, runs wild, and doesn’t behave good. He’s mischievous and naughty, and that is not something I want my daughter to be watching and learning. The few times she did watch it, I quickly saw the change in her demeanor and attitude. Not cool George, not cool. Caillou is another show I’m not the biggest fan of. He whines A LOT, and seems to alway get his way, which is not something I want Lucy to pick up on. Every parent feels differently about each show, but I try to stay away from these few.
I also try to get her to watch all types of different shows. She always wants to watch the same shows and movies, over and over, but I want to expand her world and help her learn new things. This sometimes means going through a lot of shows for 5-10 minutes at time, only to have them rejected and changed right away. It can be tedious at times, but when she finds a new show she likes (and I approve of), it’s worth it in the end.
Another way to entertain them with screen time, without watching mindless shows, is to have them play interactive games. I’ve found a few that I really like, but I think her favorite is an app called “Magic Fingers“. It’s this magical app where you can draw with your fingers and make all sorts of fun things. It helps her be creative, and entertains her for a good chunk of time. She loves to color, and I don’t see much difference if she’s doing it on paper or a tablet. “Drawing Pad” is also a great app to color and draw, but it’s a bit more realistic then Magic Fingers. Another one is the “Press Here“, which is based on the Hervé Tullet book, Press Here – which gave children instructions to follow involving printed dots and swirls – the Press Here app is more of the same. “Piano Ball” is a fun interactive music game, where you can play tunes on the enlarged piano keys. Nothing like creating some obnoxious music to help pass the time.
Regular play games are also another great way to get in some screen time. I love the interactive games and the games were you build things or create your own world. Lucy is still a bit young for most of these games, but she has a few that she likes to play.
These games can be a great way to build problem solving skills and teaches them to think outside the box. Games that are constantly changing and expanding, forces them to adapt and come up with new strategies to deal with different challenges they come across. These games can also teach patience and can help build their character. Ask yourself, does the game include story lines and activities that promote responsibility and respect for others?
Certain games can teach them things such as counting, reading, and new vocabulary. They can also help promote healthy social habits, and help them learn to cooperate and work well with others. Some believe collaborative play, along with a safe environment, is more beneficial and inspires kids to become content creators, not just passive media consumers.
Thankfully I don’t have to worry about social media yet, but I can already see why so many parents struggle with the amount of social media they allow with their children. These apps and websites are made to be worm holes of mindless videos, photos and a large amount of fake stories and news. I am not looking forward to the endless fights and screaming that comes along with Facebook and Instagram.
I know older children who use their computers and tablets to create some pretty amazing things. I know a 9 year old who writes her own stories (it’s pretty incredible!) and she spends hours writing and thinking of new stories. Her mom doesn’t feel the least bit guilty about all the screen time, because she knows it’s supporting her creativity and independence. I know another 12 year old who creates slide shows about different animals, then presents them to her friends and family. I personally think, anything that supports creativity and knowledge is okay when it comes to screen time. Creating things and using your imagination for certain things is much better than starting at a flashing screen with mindless tasks that don’t require any curiosity or creativity.
I like to be realistic when it comes to planning out Lucy’s screen time. Limiting it to one hour or so a day just doesn’t work for us, especially while I’m pregnant and suffering from Hypermesis Gravidarum. I try my best to limit it and keep her on track, but I also try not to be too hard on myself during those days where she watches mindless Disney movies for hours on end. Torturing yourself doesn’t help anyone in the end, so just do what’s best for you and your family and keep moving on.
Do you agree that not all screen time is created equal? What are your rules and limits with screen time around your home? I love hearing from you! Like, comment and share!