No Screens for Toddlers? No Sanity for Parents?
The American Academy of Pediatrics came out with a revised policy last week saying that kids under the age of two should have NO exposure to screens. No TV, phones, tablets - nothing.
The AAP goes one step further saying that adults should not have TV on in the background while their kids are around.
Great, it's too late for my kids. They had lots of screentime as babies and toddlers. I used to watch TV while feeding my babies. What else do you do at 5 a.m.? And occasionally, Oprah was on in the background as I played Hot Wheels for the 1000th hour in a row.
I know every word to the Wiggles repertoire because that was our program of choice while I was cooking or when I just needed a break. If we had cool phones or tablets a few years ago I would have used them to keep my toddlers happy too. I'm lazy that way, as are most parents.
The AAP even recognizes that, stating that 90 percent of parents allow their toddlers some screentime every day. But the organization wants parents to understand that the programming is not as educational as playing.
I get that, but coming down on the side of no tolerance for screentime is akin to teaching abstinence to teenagers: it's not going to work and it will only make everyone feel guilty. I'm not sure why a doctor's organization would prescribe something which they know most parents will be unable to do. It sets everyone up for failure.
I love this article by Farhood Manju in Slate, where he examines the research and finds that it is inclusive at best. Too much of anything (except love) is bad for kids and using screentime in moderation seems like a reachable and desirable goal for parents.
I am pretty sure that they are soon going to do a study that will blow all the other studies out of the water. This study findings will conclude that screens are actually good for kids. I am pretty sure that TV has helped my kids in some big ways such as:
- Learning new languages: my daughter learned Spanish from Dora, my son learned Australian from the Wiggles
- How to handle frustration: whenever Steve (Joe to the younger set) walked past a clue on Blue's Clues, my son would nearly lose it.
- Some awesome dance moves: thanks Fresh Beat Band
- Things live at the bottom of the ocean: I have had to clear up confusion about the squirrel down there, but otherwise Spongebob is full of marine biology.
Meanwhile, while I was researching this post I kept finding parents who never allowed their kids to watch TV and they all seem very accomplished. That's good, I'm glad someone will be equipped to run the world while my kids try to find out why Max and Ruby have no parents.
Do you allow your toddlers TV time? Do you feel guilty about your kids TV habits? Do you think the pediatrics association should have issues this policy?
Want more chaos? Last year, I wrote a story about a little boy who couldn't read at the age of seven, dont worry it ends well.