Have all the parents read that Digital Heroin article? Ughhh scare mongering.
Videos are so great! He sits still watching his Peppa or his Ben and Holly or Spot or Barney or Elmo or Maisy, and so it’s my go-to for when I need to be looking after bub and don’t want him to drastically injure himself while I’m out of the room. We leaned heavily on the Peppa Pig when bub first arrived, and I’m comfortable with that decision. Electronic babysitter better than no babysitter!
But also, yeah, screen time is kinda addictive I suppose. I had a few experiments to see if he would self-regulate and move on to something else if I didn’t impose an end to the endless youtube, but he never did, and I discovered that on a high-use video day he would be a nightmare in the evenings. As my mum has observed, it’s not like when I was little and the video would end, and there’d be no more video. Video ends and he knows that another video is only a click away. Videos are on my phone and I’ve always got my phone, literally anywhere anytime can be a time for video. And there’s such a thing as too much videos when they crowd out other activities.
Some things that have worked well to limit use are as follows:
- Carving out times when we don’t (usually) watch videos. For example, no videos after dinner.
- Telling him in advance how many videos he’s going to get, telling him that when it finishes we’re shutting the laptop and putting it away, and having a place for the laptop to go out of his reach.
- Once I’ve finished doing the thing I’m doing, coming to watch with him – cuddling up with him on the couch, making that time more connected.
- Using videos as downtime when he seems to need a rest but I have other things I need to do and can’t sit and read with him; conversely, if he’s asking for videos because he wants downtime and I do have time for him, recognising the underlying need and presenting alternatives.
- If he has a negative reaction to taking away the laptop, empathising with the reaction but not giving him more screen time. I know you want to watch another video, we’ll watch more later, we can’t watch videos all day because it’s fun to do other things too – Mummy wants to play trains with you!
- Telling him what we’re going to do next, or asking him what he wants to do next in an encouraging way – focusing on the opportunity to move onto a different activity, not the end of the video. “Put the laptop away now, it’s time for lunch!”, “Let’s go play in your room, should we get the train set out or a different toy”, “Do you want to play at home or should we go out now?”.