Why Are We Still Talking About Screen Time?



It’s happened again. Another well-meaning mom’s post about the negative effects of screen time has gone viral. You know the one—a mother keeps track of how many times her children look to her for attention while playing and she notes that, had she been on her phone, she would have missed those moments.

I nodded along while reading, agreeing with her at first, while simultaneously feeling the guilt creep in—an occurrence that’s become all too familiar since I first embarked on the journey into parenthood a little over four years ago.

To be fair, she’s right. I’m sure I’ve missed many a precious moment while working on my laptop or browsing Pinterest on my phone. But I’ve also missed moments because I was folding clothes, or reading a book, or washing dishes, or working, or perusing a catalog—things parents have been doing for decades.

And, honestly? I’m tired of being made to feel bad about it. Bad about using my phone to text a friend. Bad about sending work emails while my child entertains himself. Bad about allowing my son to use the ipad to play alphabet ninja. Bad about not being present for ALL THE MOMENTS.


The whole “screen” issue is hotly debated in the parenting world: Why we shouldn’t use our phones and computers around our children, how much time spent on tablets and phones is too much for kids, where and when it is appropriate for children to use electronic devices (definitely not in restaurants, you’ll get judged for that… but don’t let your kids become distracting in restaurants, you’ll be judged for that too). I read stories about celebrities who brag about strictly following the “no screen time until 2 years” rule or don’t have TVs in their home. I suppose in a perfect world I too would have the money for a housekeeper and a nanny to do work for me or engage in play with my children when I feel like I need a break. But I don’t. And I’m still bombarded daily with stories regarding the horrors of our electronic devices.

Here’s the thing—We KNOW. We know the recommendations. They’ve been beaten into our heads by the AAP and our own pediatricians and parenting articles and family members and strangers at the post office (that was a fun conversation). We know it’s about finding balance. But sometimes balance is going to mean zero screen time one day and unlimited the next because that’s life. Real life. You expect the unexpected and when the going gets tough, the last thing we need is to make it harder on ourselves or allow others (I’m not referring to doctors and the AAP; I know guidelines and recommendations are necessary) to make it harder on us.


It’s normal for generations to look back through rose-colored glasses and reminisce about the good ol’ days when they were younger. Each generation thinks they did or had it better than the next, even though “better” usually just means different. Time moves on and we need to accept and embrace change as it comes because times are changing (the AAP even changed their recommendations regarding kids and screen time to better reflect this). Does that mean we toss our kids an ipad for the day or spend every second of playtime checking emails and texting our friends? Of course not. But if I want to use my phone to “escape” for a few minutes, the same way my mom used to call Karen from down the street to chat when staying home with four children became a bit overwhelming, or let my child watch a few minutes of Daniel Tiger on a tablet at a restaurant while we wait for our food so that I can actually have a conversation with my husband for the first time in days, I’m going to do it and I’m going to do it without feeling guilty about what I may or may not be missing out on. Because for every moment I’ve missed, I’ve been there for so many more.

So to all the parents out there—you’re doing just fine. You can use phones and tablets and miss out on moments and still be an amazing parent. The moments you’ve missed while taking a much-needed break likely pale in comparison to all the ones you’ve been there to be a part of. And that’s what your kids will remember.


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Dana grew up in Indiana and attended Indiana University, where she met her husband, Max. Following graduation, they moved to Chicago and then Madison, WI, where they welcomed their son, Theodore a.k.a. Teddy, in October of 2011, before settling back in Indianapolis and having their daughter, Marlowe in January 2016. Dana is a former science teacher and children’s and family yoga instructor. She has a passion for health, education, home renovation, donuts, and all things mom. In her free time she enjoys exploring all that Indy has to offer with her family. For more of her ramblings, you can visit her personal blog danajump.wordpress.com


  1. I understand your sentiment. It sucks always feeling criticized when you are trying your best to do the right thing. But the warnings about too much screen time are justified and warranted. We SHOULD feel bad about doing it so much. Because it is harmful. And it’s ok to feel bad and guilty about things we’re doing while raising kids. Our own kids are supposed to make us feel bad. Those feelings of discomfort are the basis for motivation to improve our behavior and our parenting.
    If you can’t handle the stress and discomfort that comes with satisfying the needs of a child then you might need to work on building up your inner strength.

    And downplaying legitimate warnings about not paying attention to the children in your care is reckless.

    • I want to add that this article’s heart is definitely in the right place! Parents, and especially moms, are made to feel guilty about everything in an environment where dire warnings are coming from every direction all the time making you second-guess everything you do. And the author’s advice to parents that you can be responsible while still giving yourself and kids screen-time is spot-on.

      However I don’t think the problem lies in the warnings about screen time, but in our communities where kids are made to get nearly every ounce of caring attention from only one person: their Mom. We have isolated Moms and then put too much pressure on them to be absolutely everything for their children without a diverse and steady supply of other adults and older children to help raise the kids. And add to that the pressures Moms feel to also make money and have a successful career and it’s sure to make you pull your hair out every time you hear another person tell you you’re screwing your kid up with everything you do!

      But don’t underestimate the power of our connected devices to distract us from the necessary moments of love and connection that our children, and ourselves, need to be healthy and grow. 🙂

      • Very true! And as I said in the article, recommendations and guidelines are very necessary. It’s the articles I see every day that only serve to shame moms that aren’t. I will admit that this is an especially sensitive topic for me because I work from home and my son only goes to daycare part time. I am required to spend a decent chunk of the day on my computer and phone in order to keep my job. I quit my outside-the-home job last year because I was hardly seeing my family and now I spend so much more one-on-one time being present with my son than I ever got to before, but it still seems like it’s never enough.
        But you are right-pressure on moms is a huge part of the issue. I know when I was growing up and my mom needed a break from all of us, she could send us outside on our bikes, knowing we were safe in our neighborhood because friends, family, and neighbors were always there to keep an eye on us. That option doesn’t really exist anymore because we no longer have that “village”.

      • And screen time and the overuse of devices has become a big problem for everyone, but somehow it’s always assumed that moms are the worst offenders. My main point was more just that we all know the recommendations and guidelines, which is good because too much screen time IS detrimental, but beyond that we need to lay off and let people make their own decisions.

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