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Young children and screen time

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This is a collaborative post.

I’ve written before about how screen time impacts children’s behaviour. We bought an iPad around a year ago because I didn’t want Libby to be the only one who couldn’t use it when she started school. Prior to that, both girls would watch television and watch nursery rhymes on the computer. But neither of them could use devices themselves.

Our screen time

These days, the girls have a very limited amount of screen time. This is predominantly because they’re too busy doing other things. Now that the evenings are lighter, they go straight outside as soon as they get home. They’d much rather play on the trampoline or ride bikes than sit in front of a screen. But when they’re up early in the morning, we do allow them to watch the iPad for a while.

Do toddlers have too much screen time? I take a look at the average amounts of screen time among young children and see whether my two are getting the right amount.

It had got to the point where the girls were watching the iPad for half an hour most mornings. We tried to reduce this, because they were starting to get stroppy when we took it off them. But things have changed slightly over the last few weeks, with Libby waking up notably earlier than Lia.

I either run or work in the mornings before the school run, and we decided we’d rather Libby came into our room to watch the iPad instead of waking Lia. So she has half an hour watching it on weekdays, and they both tend to have about an hour at the weekend. It’s not ideal, but for me the question is around what else they could do?

Myself and my husband are both busy at that time and we don’t want them outside unsupervised. Libby’s reading isn’t good enough to sit and read a book alone yet, so the iPad really is the only solution. And it seems we’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by Net Voucher Codes, the average toddler uses a tablet for around 47 minutes each day.

The facts

The survey found that the main reason for letting children use a tablet or iPad was to shut them up. This seems a bit harsh to me – it is useful to keep them entertained for a while when I’ve got work to do. But would I agree that I’m giving it to them to shut them up? I don’t think so. Other reasons parents give for allowing a toddler to watch a tablet include learning on the device and keeping them entertained in the car. The car is definitely a place where my two use the iPad and it makes long journeys a lot less painful for all concerned.

I do have concerns about excessive screen time and I will continue to limit it for the foreseeable future. As they get older, my worries will change and their safety online will be more of an issue. Along with a few other bloggers, I have given a couple of tips in this infographic for keeping children safe online. Let me know if there is anything we’ve missed.

Baby and Toddler Tablet Usage Survey 2017. An infographic by the voucher codes website

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  1. April 29, 2017 / 11:43 am

    Wow – people let 6 month old babies use a device?! On days where my eldest has had more screen time than usual, it definitely negatively impacts his behaviour. Moody and full of cheek! Now he lighter nights are here, it’s much easier to encourage outdoor play or even with toys inside. Sunshine makes everything better x

  2. April 29, 2017 / 9:37 pm

    We got our girls a iPad last year and I was a little worried that we would have struggles with them watching it too much, but honestly once the novelty had worn off they aren’t that bothered about it. They are much more happier being outdoors.

    Similar to you we do use it on long car journeys and it makes travelling a lot easier!

  3. Sadie
    April 30, 2017 / 6:46 pm

    I never give my son the iPad (I tell him I don’t have the password) and he rarely asks for tv. But he knows my husband will give him the iPad and I do think he’s guilty of letting him use it too much, especially if he’s trying to get something done. But I notice his behaviour and sleep are much worse when he’s used it, and I don’t see any merit in it. He watches YouTube Kids, and it’s all just trash…though thankfully he’s stopped watching the opening/unboxing things, which made him very demanding after watching some spoilt brat getting presents for no reason, and is more interested in things about vehicles. But I make him come off it after a short while and have convinced my husband to ration it too.

  4. April 30, 2017 / 9:35 pm

    I was shocked when I saw a baby saucer/walker thing advertised with a holder for an iPad on the front – I couldn’t work out if it was a spoof. Sounds like you have a good balance though 🙂

  5. May 1, 2017 / 10:23 pm

    My girls don’t have a tablet and I am worried that actually am I holding them back? They will watch Andy’s iPad in the morning if they wake up early and one of them snuggles in with us. But they don’t know how to use it and it’s only for about 20 minutes before the other one wakes up and we go downstairs. It’s something I think about a lot recently and not sure exactly what Alice should be using it for??? x

  6. May 2, 2017 / 12:48 pm

    We have a “no screens before school” rule which really limits tablet use during the week. Jessica likes to watch Youtube Kids for a while in the mornings at weekends. I have to confess that I will put a DVD or CBeebies on for the girls if I need to get some work done as I know it will keep them occupied. I do try to restrict their screen time though as I do notice an increase in tantrums if they’ve had too much of it.

  7. May 2, 2017 / 7:41 pm

    I’m actually quite anti screen time for my children, but that’s personal choice. My children never play on one and only have used it when we are travelling. Although they do watch TV I have started to reduce that a bit too as I have noticed it makes my daughter quite grumpy when she can’t watch it. As they older I know this will feature more in their lives and I don’t want them not aware of modern technology I just like it when they play with toys more I guess.

  8. May 3, 2017 / 7:09 am

    This is interesting. I’m the same as you, I dislike letting them watch too much, but both boys are up early, with our eldest usually up first and so they get to watch a bit whilst my husband gets ready for work and I get everything sorted in the morning. The Ipad is usually used for educational apps later on in the day if my eldest asks to use it. But that’s more to do with education as he normally works on maths then. 🙂 x

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