When you are as tortured by the issue of screen time as I am, you talk to a lot of moms about it. Here are the ones at the extremes:
1. The mom who is quick to tell you that heck yeah, her kids watch TV–and a lot of it. “How would I ever get anything done otherwise?” she asks you, like you are a crazy person.
2. The mom who is quick to tell you that they don’t even own a television (she may or may not say this loudly enough so that all mothers around her are sure to hear). And even if they did own a television, her child would be too busy reading The Little Prince in its original French or writing a rock opera for the Wiggles to bother with it anyway.
I am jealous of both of these moms. Because at least they’re at peace–and totally unapologetic–about their choices.
Me? I struggle with screen time. Every. Single. Day.
On paper, our policy is fine: About 45 minutes, twice a day. It also fits with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guideline of no more than two hours of screen time daily.
In reality, our policy makes me insane.
There is fighting between my kids about what to watch. There is whining and crying when it’s time to shut it down. There is nagging for just ten, five, two more minutes of TV time. Now that Santa finally gave in and sent a Wii down our chimney, there’s even more angst (and arguments) around the precious allotment of screen time. (So far, the only good thing about the Wii is that Sam now walks around the house singing “Crazy Train”.)
I wish my kids preferred to to draw or build puzzles or play with those expensive Geo Trax trains we bought for them that they don’t use nearly enough to justify the cost.
But yet, they adore their screen time.
It’s perfectly normal. I logged many happy hours with the Jetsons, Flintstones, Cleavers, Ricardos, and Bradys as a child. Yet I’m still dismayed. I can’t help but worry that my children’s brains (and attention spans) are shrinking just a tiny bit with every click of the remote, that the endless amount of accessible entertainment–DVDs, Netflix, Wii, Angry Birds–is sucking their imaginations dry.
Every couple of months, I go so off the deep end about screen time that I threaten to pull the plug on the whole operation. And it’s not a (totally) empty threat. In fact, I’m secretly waiting for the day when my kids push my buttons so much that I finally do it.
Assuming I could even locate the actual power cord and untangle it from all the other ones, that is.
If you have thoughts about screen time (or an effective strategy for handling it), do share!