Controlling Your Child's Screen Time ⋆

Controlling Your Child’s Screen Time

I want to talk about a serious problem that I’m having with my daughter. She’s 19 months old and already spends way too much time in front of the screen.

I never thought my daughter would have this problem when she was firstborn. I’ll be honest and say that the thought never even crossed my mind. Sure, I saw kids using smartphones and tablets, but it didn’t register.

It seemed like a way to occupy a child while mom was doing something at the bank. I never thought that screen time would be such an issue. It is, and I do not doubt that you are dealing with the same problem as I am.

How did it all begin?

It started innocently enough by watching cartoons on television. My wife put on the cartoons thinking it was background noise for our daughter. It was a few months after that she started to pay attention to the cartoons.

There was a time when my daughter was a bit grumpy, and she didn’t want to put her clothes on to go outside. It was cold out, and that meant my wife had to put more clothes on her.

She realized how calm our daughter was while watching cartoons and decided to check YouTube to see if they have cartoons. Much to her surprise, she was able to find our daughter’s favorite cartoon.

Since that day forward, our daughter realized that cartoons are always on demand using a smartphone or tablet. Day or night, it doesn’t matter when it comes to watching cartoons. YouTube works all the time, and her favorites are just a tap away.

Where are we at now?

I don’t want to make this all sound like it was my wife’s fault. I too would turn on the TV if our daughter were grumpy. I can’t say that the cartoons always soothed what was ailing her, but she did seem to enjoy them.

I couldn’t figure out what she was enjoying about them. I found it hard to believe that at her age, she was able to process much of the cartoons. Maybe it was all the colorful light and beautiful music that attracted her attention.

I really have no idea. I know that we started something that is almost impossible to stop.

My wife is now back at work, and my mother in law and I watch our daughter. I usually work during the day on the computer while my mother in law watches the baby.

I take breaks throughout the day and spend time with her. Then in the evening, my wife and I spend time with her. The whole ordeal with my wife going back to work posed new challenges, but one thing was consistent, our daughter needs her cartoons.

No meal is complete without cartoons

Our daughter won’t eat any meal without cartoons. She will get all kinds of grumpy and not eat. It doesn’t matter what we do. As soon as the cartoons come back, she’s smiling and ready to eat.

If there are no cartoons, then that means she’s not going to eat at all. There are times when she won’t take a single bite of food without cartoons on.

Worse yet, now she has her favorites. We have to go from cartoon to cartoon until she seems satisfied with one of them. Sometimes it can take upwards of five minutes before we find the right cartoon.

Cartoons on demand are addictive

I’ll be honest and say that I wish we never allowed our daughter to watch cartoons. I don’t know if it is possible to keep a child away from cartoons. I’m sure there will come the point where her smartphone usage will be so much more than cartoons.

I imagine she will want to play games and all kinds of stuff. That’s the scary thing for me as a parent as I know she will get addicted to the games.

I played games quite a bit when I was a kid. Though it was different in that we had to sit in front of the TV, today, a smartphone fits in the palm of your hand and can be taken anywhere.

I’m not surprised by her smartphone usage

I’ve got another thing to admit. I too use the smartphone when I eat all of my meals. I usually eat while looking at a tablet computer. Yes, I watch YouTube as well.

Should I be surprised that my daughter likes to do the same thing as I do? I don’t know. It’s like when my daughter wants to eat chocolate, and I feel guilty.

I love chocolate, and I eat it every day. But, I feel so bad when I give it to my daughter. I give her a very tiny piece that’s about a quarter of a square if that much. But, still, there’s that guilt like I’m doing something terribly wrong.

All of this has made me put my screen time into question. I’ve always been someone who loved sitting in front of the computer. I work every day on the computer.

I look at my smartphone when I’m not at work. I carry it with me everywhere I go. Now I’m starting to think I need to give it a break and be a better example. I can’t expect my daughter to give up her cartoons if I can’t put down the smartphone either.