I have a confession: in our house, we don’t really have limits on the amount of screen time allowed for our kids. They may watch two, three, or even (gasp!) four episodes in a row. Originally, this policy was born out of necessity. (Any momma of a three year old and a newborn can attest to this.) But over time, it evolved into something that genuinely works best for our family.
As a disclaimer, I know screen time can be a bit of a controversial parenting issue. My intention is not to “stir the pot” or stoke the mommy war fires. If your household is screen-free, then I think that’s great. If you restrict viewing time to one, 20-minute episode? Rock on. There’s no judgment and no snarkiness here. You do you, momma.
At our house, though? All that screen time sparks creativity, learning, and imaginative play. I should explain that, while we don’t necessarily limit the amount of time that our kids watch for, I do keep a close eye on what they’re watching. And we emphasize educational shows over mindless entertainment. My son is six and my daughter is two, so my holy grail is a show that holds the attention of both of them. Wild Kratts and Octonauts are two of our favorites that currently fit the bill. (If you’re unfamiliar, you can find Wild Kratts on PBS or Amazon Prime and Octonauts on Nick Jr or Netflix.) While watching, one or both of them will usually run and grab a few toys to act out along with the show. Sometimes, the toys take over their attention entirely as they create an elaborate game based off what they’ve been watching.
Since both shows share a similar premise — animal rescue — my kids are now pros at recognizing wildlife and sharing facts. On our last trip the the zoo, my son was naming the animals before I could find the informational sign at each exhibit. He could tell me about their habitats and their “creature powers,” or what makes each one unique. At first, I was surprised—and then proud. Their world is bigger and their scope of knowledge is actually wider because of those hours spent in front of the TV.
Like everything else, it’s really just a matter of balance. Even kids need a “Netflix and chill” kind of day now and then.