Help me out, y’all! This is a topic that I would really love to get some feedback on because it’s been bothering me a lot. So, here’s the deal. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids 2 and older have no more than 1 to 2 hours of screen time every day. That means TV, tablets and computers. And let me tell you, I try really, really hard to stick to that recommendation. On the days that we go over two hours, I feel like a terrible mom. Like, really, really crummy. But lately, I’ve been wondering, “Am I too strict about screen time?”
Because when I think about it, I realize that I watched a LOT of TV when I was growing up. I probably watched 5 hours a day. When I got home from school I did my homework, then turned the TV on and watched it until it was bedtime. But it didn’t rot my brain. I was a straight-A student. I graduated high school as Valedictorian. I graduated college Cum Laude. And I had a successful marketing career for 10 years before becoming a stay-at-home mom.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, excessive screen time “can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity.” But my boys get more than the recommended two hours of screen time some days, and aside from being sometimes easily distracted, they don’t seem to have any of those issues. Actually, they’re pretty darn smart if you ask me. My 5-year-old was reading at age 4. My 2-year-old can count, knows his colors and some of his ABC’s and is learning phonics from YouTube videos.
So are TV, tablets and the Internet really all that bad? Or is this just another one of those areas that I just like to beat myself up over?
When I posed this question to my friends on Facebook, they all basically told me that I needed to give myself a break. Is too much screen time bad? Sure. But if I’m worrying about it so much, then that probably means my kids aren’t getting too much screen time to begin with.
So that means that this is probably just one of those mom guilt things, which are all too common with me because I suffer from depression. I criticize my parenting choices constantly. I tell myself that my kids deserve a better mom. I don’t enjoy my time with my kids because I’m too busy thinking about what a lousy mother I am.
So if I am just being too hard on myself, then that means I’ve got to just let go on the days my kids get 2.5 or 3 hours of screen time, instead of just 2. And I’ve also got to realize that a lot of what they do watch are educational programs, in which they’re learning letters, phonics, numbers, shapes and patterns. And I’ve got to accept that I’m not rotting their brains.