Screen Time – What’s The Right Amount?

When it comes to your child’s TV watching, i-Pad and Smartphone-playing, how much do you allow?

It’s kind of a touchy subject, right? Whenever I’ve been asked the question, I always squirm in my seat and rack my brain for the best explanation I can come up with as to why she watches, how much she watches, and the like. In all honesty, I have been pretty confident in the majority of my parenting decisions thus far and hardly shy away from giving my opinion, but something about technology allowance makes me feel especially guilty and I know I’m not alone.


But, why is that?

I think in part it’s due to the negative associations with watching television, some would call it lazy and no one wants to raise a lazy kid. It also makes a parent feel lazy for allowing the TV to go on in the first place, you can’t keep your child entertained?

The conversation about technology is really a microcosm for the greater question of “How do I parent?” There is a ton of “best practice” advice on everything from car seats, to breastfeeding, to vaccinations and then there is what you decide to do. As a parent you have the choice to follow every recommendation meticulously {which would mean no TV until 2}, throw it all out the window, or strike a balance in between.

When it comes to following recommendations on TV and screen time, my husband and I have eased up a bit now that our daughter is two, but we follow the two-hour daily limit suggested by the AAP. We’ve never been much of an iPad family despite owning one and our smartphones are mostly off-limits – occasional restaurant and “mommy needs a shower” are some exceptions.  As for shows, we allow Sesame Street, a few Disney movies that are FF’ed, and several others like Curious George.

This post was inspired by a reader’s question regarding how to start TV time with her little one and as I told her, it’s a slippery slope – once screen time is allowed, even in very small amounts, it becomes addicting. Despite the possibility of  being bored, I think my daughter would watch TV all day if I let her.

At the end of the day, whether you confidently turn on the TV, never turn it on, or fall somewhere in the middle, it’s about finding balance. Unfortunately, feeling guilty is part of parenthood. It’s important, however, to look at the big picture and evaluate all the decisions you make regarding your children – you can’t get it all right, all the time. Strive to be confident and thoughtful in your decisions – despite what anyone says, they are your decisions to make.



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2 Responses to Screen Time – What’s The Right Amount?

  1. Erin March 10, 2015 at 8:01 am #

    I have awful guilt about TV time. I have a newly 2 year old and a 4 month old…And we don’t have a vehicle while hubby is at work! 😮 Loooong winter. I have settled on letting 2 yr old watch TV in the morning with breakfast and during play and then making sure it is OFF for the remainder of the day. I still feel super guilty in the morning, but I just need that time to prep my head for the day

  2. Anna Julien April 4, 2015 at 10:28 pm #

    Erin, I totally understand your feelings, I too feel guilty at times. You need to focus on all the good you are doing for your children and a little TV can’t diminish that!

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