by Alix Tonsgard
Let’s talk about screen time. It’s happening in our household more than I would like to admit and at times I struggle with guilt over it. As an early childhood specialist I know all of the research and recommendations for ages and stages and best practices around screens. Let’s face it, a lot of that has gone out the window, and I’ve had a lot of guilt and anxiety around it.
So I decided to take a moment to reflect on our days, and I realized a few things.
First, I am actually putting into practice some of the things I know about screen time, for the most part. This little guy is obsessed with trucks and construction vehicles, so a lot of our screen time is YouTube videos of actual trucks doing real work. These videos are usually watched with a 2-year-old’s nonstop commentary and questioning about “What’s that one?” “That’s an excavator?” “What’s he doing?” So there is a lot of adult-child engagement with the content being viewed.
Did you notice that I said this was happening for the most part? This leads me to my second reflection. My household is not short on its supply of emotions and stress at the moment. Sometimes ‘Stinky and Dirty’ gets turned on and we just completely zone out, and right now that is OK. He feels our stress and I am sure it makes him a little stressed too, and if a little time tuning out helps him manage this, then I think it’s actually doing more good than harm.
The last reflection I had was in regard to all of the amazing things that are happening when the screen is off. This little dude has had hours of time jumping in puddles and filling his trucks with rocks and baking banana bread. As I sit here typing this blog, he is doing his own child-directed sink-or-float investigation without having been prompted to do so. Science and math and art and literacy and physical development are happening in every moment that the screen is off.
If you are feeling guilty about things you think you should or shouldn’t be doing right now, I hope you can take a deep breath with me. We are all doing the best we can, and a little extra screen time is not the end of the world.
Alix Tonsgard is an early learning specialist at the DuPage Children’s Museum.