Eight Reasons I Don’t Care About Screen Time

portrait boy

I let my son watch TV. There, I’ve said it. I also let him play games on my mobile. He isn’t, by any means, attached to a screen all day but he definitely watches TV way more often than is recommended. I’ve agonised over this quite often during the last three years but I’ve decided it’s time to let that guilt go and here are eight reasons why:

It’s educational

He mainly watches CBeebies and the majority of their shows have an educational element – whether that be numbers & shapes or foreign countries and animal care. I swear there are some skills he’s learnt entirely from the telly.

It’s teaching him about technology

We live in a technology-driven world and there is, sadly, no getting away from that, so knowing how to operate an iPhone at aged three isn’t exactly a disadvantage.

It’s age appropriate

Obviously I don’t sit there binge-watching old episodes of True Blood in front of him. He only watches shows and plays games appropriete for toddlers and preschoolers.

He is meeting all his targets

Most importantly, he is meeting every single one of his development targets and excelling in most. He isn’t overweight. So, in all honestly, I can’t see what damage the evil forces of excess screen time has so far done.

We have balance

Caterpillar is out of the house most days – whether that be attending nursery or out with me going to classes and groups or meeting friends and their children. When we are at home we draw, craft, talk, read & play so if after all that he watches several hours of TV I’m not going to beat myself up.

It’s impossible to keep them occupied entirely alone; we all need a break

I refuse to be a slave to my child. I will do my very best for him and I love him very much but I’m not physically or emotionally able to dedicate endless hours each day to play and activities. I need time for housework, my day job, blogging tasks etc. and if screens help occupy Caterpillar for a while then so be it.

Kids need downtime too

Modern parenting gurus would have us believe we should be engaging in actitivites, play and learning opportunities with our children every waking moment but firstly, this is impossible to maintain (if you’re a mum like me, at least, I guess some mums manage), secondly, our own parents certainly didn’t do this (and we’re just fine) and lastly, children need to relax too. Watching a movie or a TV show allows your child to rest and refresh their minds a little, especially useful before bed or nap time.

I’ve given up on guilt and parenting advice

I made a pact with myself a while back that I would endeavour to give up on Mum Guilt and ignore parenting advice (which is usually conflicted and from a questionable source anyway). We’re doing our own thing and so far that’s working out just fine.

So…what are your thoughts on the screen time debate?

55 comments on “Eight Reasons I Don’t Care About Screen Time

  1. Really interesting post as always. I watched some TV as a child and I’m fine. I don’t let my 7 month old watch it yet but he’s not that interested, he’s just perfected crawling so that’s all he wants to do. When he’s older I agree to will be a good way for him to relax and for me to get stuff done! #thelist

  2. Hi Laura, as long as a child isn’t dependent on screen time and it’s not impacting their lives in a negative way, then I see no harm in it either. Times have changed and there is plenty of time in the day for a child to be able to do a bit of everything… And as for ‘parenting advice’. We must learn to follow our gut feeling and do what’s best for out own children.

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  3. Love this post and totally agree with it. With technology being so important in this day and age, I have no issue with my son spending time on tablets etc. In fact, he may only be almost 3 but he’s better with technology than me. CBeebies is educational and with amazing letter apps on the ipad, it’s helped him to learn to read, spell and count and there can’t be anything wrong with that can there? #pocolo
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  4. I think you’re post is really balanced and you’ve got it figured out. I think back to when our (my?) generation were growing up in the 80s and we were latch-key kids, there was no internet and no-one offering “helpful” advice apart from perhaps family or friends. I’m 36 now and spent a joyous childhood glued to as many 80s cartoons as I could with parents who both worked full-time. I also watched things like Dallas and Dynasty, which would probably be grounds for calling social-services these days. I’m now married, a home-owner, university-educated and in a great job. What I’m trying to say very long-windedly is that I do think people should just take a step back and relax every now and then. Great post X #PoCoLo
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  5. Good for you Laura. Mine have always watched probably more TV than they should. My son (who is nearly 16) now plays more video games than watches TV. It is in the end a personal choice and as long as it works for you, I don’t think you should feel guilty. Parenting is a difficult thing.

  6. Oh this makes me feel better. My 9 month old is poorly at the moment with a virus/fever thing that’s made her super cranky and clingy but not serious (so the doctor assures me!). In a desperate attempt to stop the crying I stuck peppa pig on the TV and lo and behold she was transfixed. She seemed the happiest she has for days and I was able to have 5 minutes respite. It’s my new favourite thing, but I have had the guilts as a result. Thank you for helping me put it all in perspective! #picknmix

  7. This is such a very well thought out post. My children are older now (18, 15 and 10 years) and looking back i’m pretty sure that they watched too much TV. However, that was balanced with plenty of fresh air and exercise and conversation and they all seem to be turning out okay!! I agree, you sometimes just have to get on with things and the TV keeps them amused. I have personally learned loads from programmes like Horrible Histories! #PicknMix
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  8. I think there is too much drama and worry about screen time….As long as you find a balance it’s fine….My girls have been on their computers so much over the holidays but I don’t feel bad or guilty. I know when they go back to school they will only have an hour or so a day….
    Great post x
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  9. Hi Laura, I have always let my children watch TV and never stressed about it too much. Mine are older so the general rule is that during the week when they are at school they are not allowed to watch any TV until their homework is done and then never more than an hour. They both do a lot of extra curricular activities after school and at the weekends so some downtime in front of the TV is totally fine with me. Right now my y 13 yr old is upstairs catching up on her favourite TV shows as its such a gloomy day outside, giving me some sorely needed blogging time. #PoCoLo

  10. I love reading about how other people are as relaxed about screen time as I am. Its saves my sanity. Totally agree as well that it is my sons chill out time after a long day at school. the good women of mumsnet would have you believe there is hardly a tv set in the country!
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  11. Iggle Piggle has helped me out a lot since I had my 4 month old. My then 18 month old had her new brother to contend with for mum’s attention and it was so hard when I couldn’t look after her during the endless feeds. A bit of TV doesn’t do any harm, especially when the alternative means they are just left to wail and be upset all on their own. Good job on staying no to he mum guilt! We do indeed need some time to ourselves too!

  12. Totally and utterly agree with you on this. There are so many ‘should do’ & ‘shouldn’t dos’ in parenting and I’m so sick of it. At the end of the day, you know your child and what’s best for them. We live in a modern age where TV & tablets are a part of everyday life. It’s time some people took a chill pill. Great post. #pocolo
    Jaki recently posted…Are you a talker or a texter…?My Profile

  13. I also let my son watch TV, play pokemon go on my phone, watch youtube and he also code using Kano. I think that you are right that its educational and I really try hard to balance it with us always going out and playing as much as he watch and use tech. #pocolo
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  14. I agree with every word of this. Life is about balance at the end of the day, and kids need to switch off and unwind the same as we do as adults. Great post. Xxx

  15. Good for you. This is a tough choice but as usual there probably isn’t a great deal of difference to the kid either way, so best to do what works for you as well! We promised no TV for Little Bear till he was two, before he was born, but it’s slowly creeping in on my more exhausted days. Only a matter of time!

  16. We are sat in front of the TV as I comment! I must admit I do worry about too much screen time and it’s mainly morning and evening but there are days when we are tired and it comes on more. Like you I pick educational stuff and we are usually so busy, there’s nursery and playing around it! This post has made me feel better xx #fartglitter
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  17. I’m pretty pro-screen time these days. The Popple isn’t allowed much of it (unless she’s ill, when all rules go out the window), but she does watch a bit most days for all the reasons you said. She mostly watches Spanish-language music videos and we’re raising her bilingual, so it’s kind of educational. Also it gives me a moment of quiet sometimes when I DESPERATELY need it. It’s all about balance, isn’t it? As long as you don’t sit your kid in front of the TV for hours on end, it’s probably okay. #EatSleepBlogRT
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  18. I love this post. Screen time is my biggest Mummy Guilt! I remember doing the unspeakable and “googling” it when my oldest was around 12 months old and already quite a dedicated fan of Peppa Pig. I came away devastated that I had “broken my baby”” with the nasty telly. Then she grew up a bit to be a happy, well developled 4 year old and in the meantime her little brother happened and I kind of chilled out about it all a bit. I’m with you – “everything in moderation and make sure it’s age appropriate”. Otherwise I really try not to stress about it now. It’s great to hear that I’m in good company though. Thanks for linking with #fartglitter x
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  19. Love this post; agree whole-heartedly! Could’ve written it myself – I feel the same way. Still feel guilty at times, but my Little Man is also learning so much from the TV – new words and phrases and meanings, I’m now not so hard on myself about it:)

  20. I wholeheartedly agree with you on every point!
    There is no way that we can parent for an entire day on our own without some kind of TV rest-bite, and as you quite rightly point out, as long as they aren’t watching KillBill or the like then actually it can be quite educational.
    As for games on mobiles and tablets: yes yes and yes. they learn how to operate them at school so I don’t see anything wrong with learning how to follow instructions from a device whilst ‘playing’. actually they are constantly learning – as long as it isn’t Grand Theft Auto I suppose…
    Long live technology, and long may it occupy the hell lout of my kids when hey are having one tantrum too many.
    big love

  21. Love your honesty – I think this will always be a touchy subject. I’m not bothered either way about how much tv my son watches. He doesn’t watch loads, but it is generally always on in the background while he is playing with his toys. I am a bit strict about phones – my son loves the camera on mine and can take a selfie so I do let him play with it, but I’m wary of allowing him to use it for games/tv as I have seen the effect on kids around me who are quite dependent on devices! But as you point out, they are being brought up in a technological world, so will need to know how to use such things when they are older anyway. Plus I would be a total hypocrite as I am permanently attached to my phone #fartglitter
    Something About Baby recently posted…Times to Treasure – Week 3My Profile

  22. This is interesting. As a Mum to young teenagers my view is rather different. Left to their own devices my two would not emerge from their laptops and I am not sure everything they see is educational or age specific – but screens are the way of the world now and I only hope I can help them to learn that there is a wonderful world outside of that rectangular box too #pocolo
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  23. I don’t have a set screen time for the boys. They are pretty physical spending plenty of time on sports and playing outside. If I think they’ve been watching to for too long I will suggest something else, but somedats we love snuggling up together to watch a film. Thanks for linking to #picknmix

  24. Ah, mum guilt! Yes we allow CBeebies too. And I think you’re right, there are definitely some facts which she has learned/remembered from seeing it on TV. Every now and then I think about maybe having a few TV-free days…but the truth is, sometimes twenty minutes in front of the TV while I get a job done/have a cuppa is a lifesaver! #EatSleepBogRT

  25. I’ve never been much for the parenting “advice”, we all parent in our own way. My boys watch far too much TV and play too much on their iPads, but then so do I so I can’t really tell them they’re not allowed can I? When I think my boys have watched enough I’ll tell them so and they’ll listen (for the most part) but I agree, giving up on that guilt is definitely worth doing.
    Thanks for linking to #pocolo
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  26. This is a well balanced post and I agree with your points. I’ve never thought too much about screen time. The screen time of my children differs. They love to play outside on a trampoline and we are regularly at football or swimming clubs so if it’s a rainy day and they want to watch movies for most of the day, then I allow it. I mean they like to read and colour, play with play doh or kinetic sand and bake too but sometimes you have jobs that need doing and would much rather them be calm and watching age-appropriate TV as you suggest. Good on you! 🙂

  27. Really enjoyed this! It’s all about the balance isn’t it I feel the same. I’ll think, well we’ve walked, played and cycled today – he can watch some telly while I catch up on the laptop (or give the baby some time!).
    Thanks for being so honest and scrapping my guilt traces too.
    Kimberly x

  28. I don’t have children and I wasn’t sure I should comment until the last paragraphs when you said “our own parents certainly didn’t do this (and we’re just fine)”. My mother, a single parent, worked from home so she could take care of me, she played with me and was supervising my activities while keeping an eye on her work. I didn’t watch TV as a child, more than 30 minutes a day or so. Those activities with her and how we were playing are the best memories I have from childhood.and I think those are the best moments she had as a mother too.

  29. I beat myself up constantly about the amount of screen time my eldest has, for him it’s his xbox that worries me. The trouble is, with working from home it’s difficult to occupy them without screens and still be able to get work done. I have to work to pay the bills so what do I do?! I reassure myself that i only work a couple of hours in the morning then we’re out or doing things together so that’s some weight off but I still feel guilty!

  30. I love this!
    My girls are 10 yrs apart and require very different entertainment, attaching them to tech is pretty much the only peace & quiet/work time I get during the hols so definitely no judgement here.
    Tammy x

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