For many children, an iPad or iPhone is a super exciting object. Adults spend a lot of time texting, posting avocado toast on social media, and generally staring at screens, and kids are just as eager to get in some daily screen time.
Should we have hard and fast screen time rules for our kiddos, or is it alright to go with the flow and hand over the iPad when we see fit? This isn't an easy parenting topic, and it's likely to continue to be a tough debate. One thing is for sure, there are moments when screen time seems a lot better than others.
Read on to find out five times that screen time is great for kids and five times to cut back.
10 Great: Educational Games, Movies, And TV Shows
While there are a lot of games, films, and TV shows that are purely for entertainment value, it's fair to say that there are just as many that are learning opportunities for kids. Screen time is great when it's educational (and, sure, entertaining at the same time).
TV shows like Sesame Street have been beloved for their ability to teach children about friendship and counting and colors, so there's no reason to cut back on a show like that one. As long as your kids aren't spending hours upon hours staring at the TV each day, it's totally fine.
9 Cut Back: During Mealtimes
While it seems tempting to hand over your iPad so your kids can watch a movie or play a game during breakfast, lunch, or dinner, mealtimes are definitely a time to cut back on screen time.
You want your kids to focus on what they're eating and not be so into the iPad that half an hour passes and they haven't touched their food at all. If they're picky about what's in front of them on their plate, this could be even more of a problem. You also want mealtimes to be family time, so that's something else to consider.
8 Great: During Plane/Train/Road Trips
Many parents absolutely love bringing along an iPad or iPhone on long plane trips, so it's a good idea to let your children have some screen time when you're traveling. This will distract your kids if they're a bit nervous about traveling somewhere new and it'll give them something fun to do.
Many kids get bored when they spend hours in the car or on an airplane, so there's no reason to feel bad about some iPad time in this situation. They'll be thrilled, you'll be happy, and you'll arrive all smiles.
7 Cut Back: During Shorter Car Rides
You can cut back on screen time during shorter car rides, like a ten minute drive to the supermarket or a twenty minute ride to visit family. This isn't totally necessary and it could lead to your kids expecting to always be given the iPad the moment that they get into a car.
If your kids want to do something fun, they could read (if they don't get carsick) or you can all listen to music or play a game. Even a quick game of the classic "I Spy" can distract kids and make their time in the car much more pleasant.
6 Great: Family Movie Time
There's nothing like a nice evening spent watching a film as a family. This is a time when screen time is great, so go ahead and have family movie night every weekend.
Making screen time part of a social, family experience is smart since kids will associate watching a movie or TV show with hanging out with their loved ones.
5 Cut Back: To Stop A Tantrum
It seems like the perfect solution: hand over the iPad when your child is in the middle of a tantrum or upset about something. The problem with this? It teaches them that if they don't get their way, they'll get screen time in return.
Instead of stopping a tantrum with technology, talk it out with your little one.
4 Great: If Parents Are Away For Work Or Fun
Whether you travel for work often or every once in a while, or you and your partner or some friends are going on a trip, that time away could make your kids a bit nervous.
Even if they're staying with their grandparents or other relatives (and definitely having fun and maybe even being spoiled), some screen time could be comforting for them.
3 Cut Back: When Siblings Are Aruging Over It
Some families get two iPads so each sibling has their own because otherwise, the fights never seem to end. While that works for some households, others don't want to buy that many pieces of technology.
This is a personal decision, but it's fair to say that when siblings are arguing over who gets to use their parents' iPad or iPhone, it's time to cut back on screen time. No one wants these fights to keep happening. A good way to deal with it? If your kids each get an hour a day of screen time, for example, change it to half an hour each for the next little while. They'll be upset at first but will get used to it and find other fun things to do.
2 Great: If Kids Love Taking Photos
Sometimes, kids love taking pictures with their parents' iPhones and they enjoy snapping photos of flowers, trees, their favorite food, or their family.
Screen time is great when you want to encourage your kiddos to be creative in this way. Sure, they may be spending time on your phone, but they'll be using their brain in an artistic sense.
1 Cut Back: When Kids Are Exhausted
Sure, you might love curling up in front of the TV when you're super tired, but you can pull yourself away from Netflix (at least, you fall asleep in front of it and then realize that you want to actually sleep in your bed). Your kids might not want to stop watching TV when they're exhausted.
Tired kids might start saying that they want to watch more, and that could lead to a long discussion. It's a good idea to cut back on screen time when kids are exhausted. None of us can reason all that well when we're really tired. Instead, read a book together or work on a puzzle before everyone goes to bed early.