Screen Time - what is your rule of thumb?

I am curious how much time you all allow your children to have screen time. I have a 21 month old little boy who was able to watch a bit too much TV (Mickey Mouse to be exact) for two weeks and now I’m trying to get back to limiting time, which makes him upset. I had a hysterectomy so I was limited on what all I could do to keep him busy and happy while I was recovering. I am being a stickler, but there are times when I need to get something done that I’m either listening to a screaming child or I turn on the TV and he’s content.

  • Lynn
    Oct 22, 2018

    My kids watch way too much TV and I limit them to PBS preschooler shows only. Daniel Tiger is perfect for 21 months. However, I have a couple of friends that cut out TV period because of the tantrums. One even sold their TV. Others, refused to turn it on for 2 weeks, then reintroduced it for the amount of time they were comfortable with. It’s like a reset button.

  • Anonymous
    Oct 22, 2018

    All day the TV is on in our house. And I mean all day! Our kid still plays with all their toys and occasionally pays attention to the TV. But something is always on. Doesn’t seem to make any difference it’s really just white noise.

  • Victoria
    Oct 22, 2018

    I see this happening with my 22 month old. In a matter of weeks, he went from barely paying attention to the TV to handing me the remote first thing in the morning. He watches about 2 or 3 hours total while I'm cleaning, bathing, or sometimes just getting lost in a book. I feel like he should watch less but my house stays cleaner and I've read 3 times the amount as I usually read. I don't neglect the time I engage him with books and play or the time we spend outdoors, but I do use the TV to babysit when I need to do something else. I'm not so sure I want to change this. Maybe, just invest in quality educational TV shows.

  • Dalilah
    Oct 22, 2018

    I am a firm believer that we should be showing kids the technology that’s available to them. With that said my 9 year old daughter is very above her grade reading level because I’ve always let her watch teaching shows. My 15 month old is currently obsessed with Sesame Street. It’s on pretty much all day whether he’s watching it or not just because it’s such a good teaching show.

  • Caitlen
    Oct 22, 2018

    Specialists typically recommend that children don’t have screen time until at least 24 months, and after that as little as possible. I treat TV as a “tool, not a lifestyle” and always warn children a minute or two before turning it off. Try to offer an alternate activity as you’re turning it off to smooth the transition. You’ve got this!

  • Kelsey
    Oct 22, 2018

    As long as it's educational, who cares.

  • Caitlen
    Oct 22, 2018

    Children under the age of two do not process visual information on a screen as we do as adults or even as older children. Babies love screens because they are mesmerized by the flashing lights and sounds, but they are not able to learn from television or process the scenes. Something to keep in mind.

  • Sarah
    Oct 22, 2018

    Im very pregnant and have an 18 month old. Husband isn't home much since he's at work and school and I have no energy. I let mine watch as much as he wants if it keeps him happy. I wouldn't survive the day otherwise.

  • Jenn
    Oct 23, 2018

    I typically only let my daughter watch 10-15 mins of a nature documentary during cuddle time. If she's sick or in bad pain from teething (or she's driving me to completely lose my mind), I bend pretty quickly and put on something remotely educational. I don't really look at the tv as an educational tool though.

  • Seli
    Oct 25, 2018

    My son is 20 months and he gets tv time while he eats, or two to three times in a day. But the good thing about this he learned the abc’s, numbers from 1-20, colors, shapes, farm animals and the sound they make. So tv for us is a learning tool. We also don’t let him hold our phones so we don’t have a problem when we stop his cartoons so we can use our phone and he has a lot of play time as well. If we give our kids the ability to control us parents with tantrums and crying then that’s when tv I guess is bad. I’ll say just managing how much we let them have it and when they can have it should help.

  • Melinda
    Oct 26, 2018

    I have a 1-hour rule for screens unless it’s an extenuating circumstance (one of us is sick, we’re traveling, really the only two options). My husband was more lax and let our 14 month old watch more tv while I was at work, but when she started expecting the tv to be on in the background and threw a fit when I turned it off I laid down the law with the time limit. It was hard- she would grab the remote and point to the tv and cry if it was off, but we were firm and gave her other options to distract her while she went through ‘tv withdrawal’ for a few days. She bounced back pretty quick- maybe 2 days, and only the first did she throw a tantrum. We offered her activities likes swinging outside, going for a walk, giving the dogs a treat, going to the park, or other indoor activities that she enjoys. It’s hard to break that habit, but if you feel strongly about it do it sooner rather than later! Stay strong, you and he will get through it in no time.

  • Shazzy
    Oct 26, 2018

    My mom is constantly on my case for allowing my 2 year old to watch shows but she watches strictly learning shows and tbh she has learned a lot. We don't put the big tv on though, she actually prefers her tablet. Once in a while she'll watch Mickey Mouse Club House on the big tv. I have an amazon free time tablet. It's great bc the kid's profile can be set by age and also set a time for when you want it to cut off. My LO throws a tantrum when time is up but she gets over it lol

  • Beth
    Oct 28, 2018

    I work for a PBS station and have learned all of the facts about their programming. I highly recommend their shows as they are developed specifically to help educate your child. While Disney and Nick and others are entertaining, they do not always educate like PBS KIDS does. There is a 24 hour PBS kids channel as well as onDemand shows available thru PBS kids app and online, antennae tv, and through Roku, Apple TV, amazon fire stick, and other OTT devices. All free! If you have cable, your PBS station plays kids programming all day until evening. Screen time is encouraged with parent interaction from what I’m told. In other words, don’t leave kid alone with tv for many hours. But here and there and also with parent interaction it can be very beneficial.

  • Lindsay
    Oct 30, 2018

    Beth, do you know if PBS has an App for Smart TV’s because it doesn’t look like I have access on DirectTV.

  • Anonymous
    Oct 31, 2018

    if you don't switch on tv consistently, you won't have the screams. kids learn very quickly when the screaming will work and when it will not. have a playground/house/rescue kind of toys available for such moments (the ones you keep in toys 'library' not in the kids room. he will sure enjoy it if there are no tv-options. my daughter had max 30 mins of pretend-play videos and several weeks ago she started to get nervous when the time was over. she has no screen-time now. i am loving-firm. she is quiet and happy.