photo credit: Baby Sees The iPad Magic
photo credit: Baby Sees The iPad Magic

How Much is Too Much Screen Time? In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a guide to screen-time with children. Updated for 2015, with further research and reacting to the critique it received, they said:

“In a world where “screen time” is becoming simply “time,” our policies must evolve or become obsolete. The public needs to know that the Academy’s advice is science-driven, not based merely on the precautionary principle.”

The original guide was something that I considered when my son was born in 2013. Now that he’s over 2 years old – I wanted to write about our practice and how our attitudes evolved.

Restricted Access, or Zero Access?

My wife and I always have our iPhones near us or in our hands. Lucas learned quickly that he was not allowed to touch, pick up or use our phones or tablets, insuring that we didn’t have to child-lock them or wear thick protective cases.

We ensured that other people didn’t allow him to play with their devices either and everyone co-operated really well. His grandparents allow him time on their old iPad from time to time, but this is also limited and not encouraged.

Even still, at 2 years old, our son is aware of how to navigate photos, zoom, take selfies and play videos. It’s frightening, but also testament to how intuitive they are to use. Only some behavior was encouraged (such as speaking into the phone when people called, or smiling for photos).

Limit Your Own Use

I’m quite aware that I don’t want to be a parent that ignores their child in favour of their screen. While I read by daily Bible readings during a single nightly episode of Raa Raa The Noisy Lion, I limit my use when he’s around so that I can actively engage in conversation and playtime for his continued development.

Some days, admittedly that’s more difficult than others. Sometimes you’re trying to arrange car insurance, contacting clients or other important business – but checking Facebook can usually wait until nap or bedtime. One thing I try to do is avoid using my computer (apart from small tasks and playing music). My iPhone or iPad is more mobile and less intrusive.

Learning Apps

Up until now, I’m still dubious about learning apps and interactive storybooks. From time to time, I’ll explore the app store and see what’s on offer, but nothing yet has made me want to part with my cash or physical books. Sure, they get ripped and torn – but the way that Lucas has learned so much language from them is incredible. He’s now quoting books, finishing sentences and remembering what the next page’s actions are before I’ve even reached them.

I’m sure that at some point I will experiment with some learning apps to further engage him, bur right now he’s so content, I’m not going to force it. That said, I know other parents who have surrendered their tablets to their children, and their minds continue to flourish also. I agree with AAP though that curation and co-engagement should be encouraged.

No Tech for Tea

In another old-fashioned move, I don’t allow toys at the dinner table. While I will almost always have music playing in the background, at least 2 meals a day are in the kitchen away from screens, toys, lights or anything else distracting. That’s my opportunity to engage in conversation, encourage healthy eating and do some silly dances, voices or actions.

It Doesn’t Have to Be All Screens Either…

Screens aren’t the only digital entry points in our generation. For example, my son currently loves cars and vehicles. He has an assortment of V-Tech cars that light up and play music, plus wooden ones as well. Sometimes he will approach me confused, trying to flick the on switch on a wooden toy – where the switch is located on his light up counterparts. It’s hilarious, but it’s something he’s come to expect.

I want him to enjoy and experience new technologies, but also appreciate the beauty and simplicity of building blocks, puzzles, stacking cups and water-based toys too. Getting a good balance is key, in my opinion.


What are your thoughts to the article? What practices have you put in place or how have your attitudes changed?