Why I Love Screen Time
Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion, and sure, all the sanctimommies might get on me about loving screen time. Screen time certainly gets a bad rap. Before we had tablets in the house, I had negative thoughts, too.
I love screen time.
It's not a free-for-all when it comes to TV and the kid's tablet (ps - we are completely obsessed with the Amazon Fire Kid's tablet). We set boundaries and rules and our oldest knows what she can and cannot watch. Using the Amazon Freetime Unlimited app, the Samsung kids app or our new favorite, ABC Mouse, we can monitor what games she plays, what videos she has access to, and the best part - once she is in the app, she cannot exit it to watch YouTube (which is banned in our house, btw!) or find herself on something that is not kid-friendly.
Here's why we love it:
1. We Get to Have Educational Quiet Time
Our oldest stopped taking naps wayyy too early. In fact, she was just about 2 when daily naps became a thing of the past. But I relied on that time to get things done around the house or to work without having to entertain a child at the same time. Once we had our second, I craved that hour to shower, drink a cup of hot coffee, or to just sit in silence for a few minutes to regroup.
The only way it happened was if our oldest had "quiet time" with her tablet. There are games that allow her to use her imagination, matching games, puzzles, even books. In order to get that quiet time, I don't have to plop her down in front of the TV with a movie or some mindless TV show.
2. We Carefully Select TV Shows that Have Value
As much as I vouch for Disney and all their channels, there are a few select shows that we don't allow our kids to watch. They don't have any value, involve too much slap-stick humor, and are borderline crass - all this to say, they are teaching things to my kids that I do not want mimicked at home.
The shows that we hand-pick teach something each episode, encourage good moral values like sharing, empathy, and what it means to be a good human. We especially love Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Daniel Tiger, Puppy Dog Pals, Vampirina, and of course, the old standby - Sesame Street. Puppy Dog Pals and Vampirina are subtly teaching things that I could never imagine my 3-year-old picking up on like the Mona Lisa, the Great Wall of China, and being inclusive despite differences.
3. It Teaches Her Things I Can't
I like to think that I'm smart, and that my husband is smart. But there are things that she learns on these games and shows that really impress me. When our 3-year-old recalls things that she learns in her games and it's something I never knew, my jaw drops a little. For example, did you know that Goldfish don't have eyelids? No, me either. But apparently in one of her games or shows, she learned that. And when she was 2, she knew almost all the basic shapes and could identify them. She picks up on classic songs that I sing around the house, but the repetitive "kid-friendly" songs seem to click more.
And not that I don't teach her the basics, but these shows really drill it - like counting, colors, shapes, nursery rhymes, and sentence structure.
4. Incredible Language Skills
This is a dual effort, but I do give some credit to listening to books or hearing characters speak regularly. Hubs and I have never spoken to our girls in "baby talk." IN fact, when our oldest was a baby, I used to have full-blown conversations with her simply because I was home alone all day and needed someone to talk to! But shows like Puppy Dog Pals and Daniel Tiger encourage a conversational dialogue in a way that children relate to. It is designed for kids and is relatable to kids.
5. Learning Life Skills
Perhaps this is a stretch, but I stand on this claim: Screen time teaches life skills. The shows and games teach things like problem-solving, listening, paying attention to detail, and empathy and consideration. It's not enough that Hubby and I demonstrate and teach these things but seeing Bingo and Rolly share and work together to solve a problem resonates more.
Having a time limit and setting boundaries on screen time teaches rules and Caroline knows that she is allowed a certain time or number of games a day. We rarely have an issue because when I set the time limit on the tablet, it will automatically turn off instead of me saying "Okay, time's up!" This doesn't make me the bad guy, which is another plus.
6. Makes Traveling Easier
We love to travel, and the tablet makes long trips and road trips a ton easier. Ever since our oldest has been 10 months old, we've taken a 12-hour drive to South Carolina twice a year. Even when she was that little, we could turn on Sesame Street or download episodes of Baby Einstein, or Lullaby videos. Now, we use the Netflix app to download movies or Planet Earth (yes, she's obsessed with documentaries) and that helps pass the time. It's good for her to have something to do while we drive and for us to have a break from Veggie Tales Sunday School songs.
I have to admit, when we first got a tablet in our household, I was terrified. I had read studies about how bad screen time is for kids and how it turns them into lazy couch potatoes. And for awhile, it totally did. YouTube was the worst thing we ever let the kids watch. As soon as we cut that off and dove into other options like Amazon Unlimited Freetime and ABC Mouse, it was a game changer.
Pro Tip: ABC Mouse grows with your child - so when they outgrow games and books, it automatically makes things more difficult to encourage learning. It's worth every penny.
How do you feel about technology and screen time in your household? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
P.s.- none of this is sponsored. I just love the tablet and these apps!