Babies and Screen Time - How much is too much?

Breastfeeding In Public
"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, would you be mine? Could you be mine?"
Mister Roger's Neighborhood
Well they say 18 months to two years they can  have a little screen time, but once they're two they should only have an hour per day... Uh... my children get that just in the morning. They wake up and they watch 45 - 60 minutes of TV, play their hearts out all day and have 10-20 minutes before bed. They are 2.5 and TV has been part of their lives since they were born. It's how I survived nursing, and those nights of endless cluster feeding. It's how my husband eases into the morning with them so I can catch an extra hour of sleep. And they are advanced. They don't stop talking. Full sentences. Robust vocabulary. Counting to 20. Singing the Alphabet. And finishing our sentences when we read their favorite books.

It's part of their schedule. They wake up and for 6:30 - 7:30 they watch educational, commercial free, shows. Some favorites are Sara and Duck, Word Party, Thomas the Tank Engine, and the like. The TV is then off until about 10 - 20 minutes before bed where we watch non cartoon shows like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. It's the best part of the day. Their little bodies soften in to our arms and all their muscles relax as we all unwind from the day together.

Before they were one, there was no schedule. They watched what we watched when we watched it. We made sure we didn't watch anything chaotic or violent. A lot of Gilmore Girls, That 70s Show, Friends, etc.

Phones are used for FaceTime with family members, for taking pictures of each other, and looking at the pictures together later in the day. I totally use my mom to "babysit" over FaceTime while I try and make dinner.

The children have their own Kindle Fire each. I use them sparingly. Haven't used it for weeks actually. Mostly because there just hasn't been time for it now that the weather is nice. It was used a lot more in the winter when it was difficult to go outside. They only had 20 minutes a day and it was right after the nanny left and when I took over. They stuck mostly to Toca Boca games.
There are two components to the technology conundrum.

There seems to be a correlation between too much passive screen time for children and development delays, specifically language skills. Passive screen time meaning, a child watching TV or playing on phones or tablets without engagement.

By parents giving partial attention to their children while trying to keep up with their online social/or work or to just get a break throughout the day, children are getting less in person, personal interactivity and thus decrease in their social and verbal skills. Yes, passive screen time is a contributor, but really it's because it's replacing the active in person interaction.

Either no screen time or I do what I got to do to survive which could mean more than three hours a day.
From everything I've read about screen time and taking into account my own personal experience it's that everything in moderation comment again. Sorry, not sorry if I'm starting to sound like a broken record. 

Every kid is different. My daughter would be a screen junky if I'm not super careful and totally diligent. Her TV and Tablet time is built into her schedule. She knows when it starts and when it ends. When we break these rules she goes nuts. "More more more more". Total temper-tantrum melt down. This goes for any screen time, not just tv. 

This really depends on you. Are you a SAHM? A WFHM? A Working Momma? If you need to get an email out, catch up on social media, or watch that YouTube DIY video, save it for when they're on schedule with their screen time for you to catch up on yours. I'm a WFHM and come 4PM when I take over for the nanny, I leave all my tech in my office except my Apple Watch. The minute I'm distracted they are just at me and then we all end up frustrated. So I just take the distracting tech culprit out of the equation.

Whatever Your Rules Are Stick To Them and Be Consistent
My pediatrician said something so profound that I take it with me everywhere. Toddlers need two things, "Forecasting and Familiarity". Familiar is the schedule. Knowing when things are happening and in what order. Forecasting is for when one thing ends for another to begin or a change in the schedule. "5 more minutes then TV off. 2 more minutes then TV off. Okay TV off." It also helps if the TV ends when you want it to so it's a natural easy break. Find short educational things. Sara and Duck runs on 8 minute increments. Word Part is 15 minutes.

Out and About Personal Preference, But We Find It Works
The kids never have screens when we're out of the house. It doesn't line up with the screen schedule because our out and about trips are sporadic and normally unplanned. My husband is great at keeping them engaged with us. Talking to them, having them point things out to us, telling us about their day. This doesn't mean trying to get things done is easy. We were in IKEA trying to make a single decision and the kids were just done. Screens would have been the perfect deterrent, but in the long run they would have demanded it for the next trip and every trip after. While tech may have been the answer in retrospect the real problem was they were done and we still hadn't made a decision because we were too busy seeing things we didn't actual come for. We should have headed straight to the thing we came for, picked one, and went from there.

Sports Families
The nice thing about sports is that it doesn't have to be "passive". It's a very social event where lots of people gather. Have your kid sit with you and ask them questions. I bet they could study and repeat all the players back to you by the end of the season. You could teach them numbers based on the jerseys and colors based on the teams they're playing. Sundays would be a day they come to treasure because of the family time and social engagement it brings. I know I did.

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