How I figured screen time sparks kids’ mood swings

My toddler became tame after I reduced his screen time to zero

In Summary

• From using screens as a distraction, I've learned how and why one is better without

A child stares at a screen
A child stares at a screen

While many studies state that overexposure to screen time has a bad impact on a child’s development, I had previously maintained a different opinion. I believe that limited screen time and exposure to technology is necessary for this generation born long after the technological era. However, the main determining factors during these studies should be: age and length of exposure.

My son has always had a screen since he was born. Initially, I used the tablet to watch my shows while breastfeeding or to track his feeding and sleeping patterns. Soon after, we moved to using the tab for sensory learning for the child by using vibrations, sounds on touch, colours and so on. Over time, of course, he started using it more and more.

However, once we moved to a flat where we were confined to the house for days on end because of extreme temperatures, we realised we needed the virtual nanny more than we cared to admit. We invested in a TV set because we realised the tab or phone screens encouraged shorter attention span with our son as he kept changing videos every so often.

The TV was a good idea. We could limit him as we want, put the shows we approved of and he could watch from a favourable distance from the screen. It worked well for a time, until he grew and understood more than we anticipated. Recently, he kept giving us the remote to urge us to change the channel. Every time we did so, he kept wanting something different.

As a grown tot with his own interests, it was clear that he would in fact choose what interested him. He is currently into planes flying. As such, he loves to watch simulation video games of aeroplanes flying while he flies his own toy plane in his hands. This all seemed well and good until one night he refused to sleep as he did not want to stop watching the aeroplane videos.

It was at this point that my husband and I decided we were done. We were shutting him completely off all screens. That was 76 hours ago. In the three days we have been on zero screen time, we have had zero meltdowns and tantrums. I should refer to the point that our toddler had been having many tantrums out of the blue for the last couple of months. We just associated it with tiredness and boredom, as well as the terrible twos.

Since starting this experiment, we are slowly realising that the terrible twos are not so terrible without the screens. It has been three days of bliss in our house as I write this. Our son is a lot more engaging, we are forced to actually spend quality time with him, and he also free plays a lot without the need for constant monitoring. The experiment continues. Next week, we find out how long we made it without screen time, and what my observations are.

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