I think too much screen time for children under the age of 5 and especially under the age of 2 can be harmful to the developing brain of a child. There I said it. Call me a Karen or disagree with me up and down…that is fine, but I’ve read the research, and I’ve seen the effects of children who are sat in from of a screen every single day without restriction. My firstborn didn’t see a screen or TV until he was two, and even then, he didn’t have any interest in really watching a show until he was about 3. Before March 2020, He got a 30-minute show when I put his sister down for a nap and then 1 hour between 5 pm and 6 pm while I made dinner. But then Covid-19 hit, and I had to completely switch gears and philosophies about screen time because we are out here just trying to survive with no intention to thrive.
Let me clarify; I’m not a Pinterest mom who plans daily crafts or ensures that my child is learning a color, letter, or state capitol each day. I’m a mom who believes that free play and imagination are the best things a kid can do, and too much screen time can stifle that. That being said, my husband and I are currently without childcare and trying to piece together our workday while remaining sane human beings for our children. So if they want to watch a Disney movie after breakfast, the answer is yes. If its raining and they want to watch three movies, the answer is yes. Did I abandon my parenting philosophy? Nope, I’m just being flexible in the midst of a crisis and doing what we all need to do at this moment in time. This is not at all how I picture our days going once quarantine is over, but its what we are doing right now.
I’ve discovered something interesting about my kids now that they’ve had an ungodly amount of screen time during the quarantine. My almost two-year-old doesn’t have too much interest and prefers to crawl all over me while grasping at any snack she can get her paws on. And even with my 4-year-old, there reaches a point where he doesn’t want to watch TV, and both kids want to chase each other around or find their way into the playroom to play with play dough. And selfishly, it has been really nice to snuggle on the couch with my kiddos and watch cute kids movies I’ve never seen before.
Quarantine is not normal, and we should not expect to parent the same way as we did before the quarantine. This is a crisis, and there is no room for guilt or shame in a crisis. If you’ve got any of that guilt or shame stuff going on, please kick it to the curb right now. If it makes you feel better- experts agree that we all need to relax about screen time in quarantine. As a parent, we are constantly called to be flexible or adaptable in new situations, and this is no different. I’m a happier person and a better mom because of our temporary increase in TV time and I hope you are too. So pour yourself a big cup of coffee, snuggle up on the couch, and press play.