Being the editor of a parenting magazine comes with lots of advantages. One of those advantages is that I am able to keep up with the latest news in child development, which I hope helps me become a better, more-educated parent. But being aware of this news also comes with disadvantages … like episodes of mommy guilt when I don’t follow some of the guidelines set by experts like The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
For example, The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that parents not expose their children to TV until 2 years old. (Children older than 2 should be limited to 1 to 2 hours of total screen time a day.) Before I had Jack, this sounded completely doable. But I must confess … TV has become a routine part of Jack’s day … a small part … but a routine part nonetheless. We have discovered that letting Jack watch an age-appropriate DVD before nap time and bedtime makes it easier to change a super-wiggly toddler’s diaper and clothes and helps his body wind down a bit before trying to sleep. It’s a bit selfish on our part, but it simplifies life and works for our family. I do feel guilty when I read about the AAP’s recommendations. That’s why I’m committing to stick to the guidelines once Jack turns 2 and limit his screen time.
Does your family spend too much time in front of a screen? Did you know that this week is National TV Turnoff Week? It is the perfect opportunity to turn off the TV, computer, and video games and spend some quality time together as a family. Go for a walk or a bike ride together. Go camping in your own backyard or in a local state park. Play in the yard until it gets dark outside. Play board games together. There are so many great things families can do together besides watching TV.
Looking for strategies for taming screen time? Don’t miss Rebecca Isbell’s Growth Spurts article "Taming Screen Time" in our April 2010 issue. And for simple ideas for using household items to create hours of imaginative play (without a screen), check out G.G. Mathis’ article "The Value of a Box."