I'm not a mom that's super-crazy about limiting my kids' screen time. S watched her first Notre Dame football game when she was 3 months old-- and she loved it. My kids regularly watch between 20 mins- 1 hr 20 mins of TV each day, based on how bad the weather is, how much active play time we've had, how much work I have to do and all sorts of other variables. We could debate the merits/demerits of screen time and it would take the rest of our lives-- but at some point each mom just has to decide which battles she wants to fight and for me, that isn't one of them. And it hasn't really been an issue yet.
Lest you think I'm totally negligent, though, we do have plenty of rules about what we watch and when. For example, we *never* watch kids programming with commercials (DVDs, Netflix, Amazon Prime offerings only!) The only time they see commercials is when we have a game on, and even then they hardly pay attention because it's "grown up TV." Whenever I detect a sense of entitlement creeping in with regards to TV shows, we take a couple of whine-filled days off and things get back to normal. I never watch any of my shows in front of them, just in case adult themes pop in and surprise me. There is no TV during meal times, no TV while friends are over and a few minutes with the iPad is a rare treat.
The biggest struggle, though, of trying to figure out TV time is What To Watch. I don't know if you've sampled the latest offerings, but I find it hard to find quality programming for kids that isn't annoying for me to listen to or simply pandering to the children. We used to watch Madeline, the animated show from the 1990's featuring Ludwig Bemelmans' beloved literary heroine.
This show is great because it features a little girl with a Big Imagination, who learns all sorts of lessons about courage, finding creative solutions to problems, following rules and the value of friendship. The animation is simple, pleasantly-paced and charming, unlike so many other shows that flit about from scene to scene with garish colors and barely-identifiable human figures. The first few episodes are even recited in verse! ...But Netflix got rid of it a couple of years ago. We have some of the episodes on DVD, but to fill the Madeline gap we next moved to...
If you search for "Angelina Ballerina Show," you'll most likely find a hideously CG-animated show that features characters equally as annoying. We tried watching it when Netflix cancelled the "old" series (ARE YOU SEEING A THEME?!?!), but even the girls thought it was atrocious and asked me to turn it off. So if you are looking for the DVD version (Amazon Prime also has a few episodes on instant play), be sure to find the HIT Entertainment version, made in the UK. The animation, dialogue, music and plotlines are just enchanting and everyone has a British accent. What's not to like? They even feature little ballet class clips between episodes, which S loves to dance along with.
Now, here's a brief list of the movies we've had success with:
So there it is. No big treatise on screen time or the role of technology in brain development, but just a few ideas of what works for us and how we're slowly learning to navigate and regulate what will undoubtedly be a big challenge in raising our kids.
What about you? Do you have go-to shows when you're desperate for a few quiet moments? How do you choose what to let the kids watch? Or, if you don't have kids, what are your favorite shows from growing up?