Screen time no good but a necessary evil at times

Toddlers are calmer without it but parents can only engage them so long

In Summary

• My experiences and observations with zero screen time for my tot enlightened me

Toy version of a popular cartoon for children
Toy version of a popular cartoon for children

We did not set out to do an ‘experiment’ when we started. We were just so exhausted from the screen-induced tantrums, we decided to give it up. As such, we did not have definitive goals or a clear end in mind. Last week, I wrote that we were at the three-day mark, with absolutely zero screen time for our two-year-old.

Monday went by well. We were heavily engaged with our kid, and he seemed to have completely forgotten about the TV or requesting for ‘black’, that is, the remote. We added a couple of toys to his collection to add to the number of activities he did during the day.

It was undeniable that our kid behaved very differently from how he did the previous week. He was calmer, more engaging and more attentive to the present. He even behaved differently when we took him to public spaces.

By Tuesday, I found myself having withdrawal symptoms. I kept asking my husband, “Should we give it to him?” It was then that I realised the screens are more important to the parent than the child. Everything was well and good for a time, but with our busy lives, it was quite impossible to indulge the child every minute of the day when he was home.

The negative effects of the experiment, I found, was that although my son did play very well by himself for a while, he became very attached to me or my husband. He would always want one of us to be by his side, which is nearly impossible as my husband works and I need to prepare food without him getting into the dangerous zones. He was way more clingy than usual and wanted to venture outside more, which was impossible thanks to the terrible weather we had.

Finally, on Wednesday, when it was just the two of us in the house, and my son was pulling me to the door while I was elbow-deep in dinner prep, I had to give in and put the TV on. It was only for about an hour, but it was needed for me to finish what I was doing.

I have always understood that mothers (especially those without help) rely on screen time to rush around and get things done. But in that moment, I really felt like I was in their shoes. In all honesty, if it wasn’t for my husband and his constant distractions and playing with my son, I would not have lasted a day without the TV. How else are we supposed to get anything done?

In conclusion, excessive screen time is not good for children, that is a simple fact. The content they consume at this age plays a significant role in shaping their development and behaviour. Personally, I believe screens like tablets and phones are unnecessary and should not be given to any kids under the age of 12. For now, we continue to limit our son’s exposure to TV and monitor the effects it has on him.

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