Help with Screen Time - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 01-02-2014, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello, I am new to this community and am in desperate need of some words of wisdom. I have a daughter who is 1 year and 3 months old and since she was born I have been reading up on a lot of waldorfian and attachment parenting ideas, they resonate deeply in me. The issue I am dealing is that she is absolutely obsessed with the computer and watching children's music videos on youtube. I confess I am the one who got her "hooked" a few months back when I thought I could show her a few of her favorite songs…I regret it ever since, it became a sipplery slope of wanting more and more and more - to the point that 3-4 20min viewings a day have come in place. And I hate this!! It got better a while back when I personally stopped using the computer in front of her, she was able to forget it existed, but then my husband went on vacation and then after that his work schedule changed, and he uses the computer A LOT. Plus, I work at home and with the  computer, so that's also a tricky thing to navigate - getting rid completely of the computer is not possible for us right now. However, whenever we use it, it "reminds" her of her videos and she'll have monumental tantrums is we don't give in…the problem is, my husband and I aren't on the same page with this. He doesn't think there's any harm done (or doesn't want to change his habits), but he doesn't realize how we are creating a terrible habit and how his example and efforts are crucial too, I can't do it by myself. I feel very lost, very angry and confused. I mean, how harmful is some screen time a day? But how to limit it carefully and lovingly to a child who still has no idea of what "not now, but later" or "you just watched some, let's do something else" means?  (Sidenote - she does do a lot  other things, plays, goes outside, interacts with us, etc, but this issue is making me insecure and confused and guilty nonetheless.) What can I do when I cannot control my husband's habits but really wish my toddler weren't viewing so much screen time? Any thoughts? Thank you!

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#2 of 10 Old 01-06-2014, 08:38 PM
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Welcome to Mothering! I don't have any specific advice, it sounds like talking to your husband, perhaps not about his habits, but able establishing shared goals for your daughter might help. Also, as it looks like your post might have been missed, I'm bumping it up for attention. :bump: Anyone have recommendations to share?

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#3 of 10 Old 01-07-2014, 10:43 PM
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My 20 month old LOVES movies on the computer as well. We use it on weekends for downtime and are very selective about what the message is in the movies they watch. She now SCREAMS every time the laptop is out because she wants movies. I find if I distract her with a game or activity she forgets pretty quickly....if that doesn't work I tell her too much computer will rot her brain lol. 

I work from home also and so does hubby so we are on the computers regularity throughout the day which doesn't help. Good luck to you - if I find a solution i will come back and share:/

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#4 of 10 Old 01-08-2014, 08:34 AM
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Don't feel too guilty.  Young children are challenging and need a lot of parental involvement and direction, which is tough to balance. 


Having a daily rhythm might help, a plan for screen time and other activities.  We have times for TV and times for much less TV.  It varies with the seasons.   For me, screen time and other issues are more about my personal discipline, so I have to be mindful of that all the time.  I do use the computer a fair amount, but I also leave my children to their own play/work a lot, too.  Mine are older and I don't have just one anymore.  Your child is quite young and likely needs some more directed activities until she gets into pretend play.  Perhaps you could get her started with something and then work nearby?  In Waldorf schools, the teacher is often off to the side doing some handwork while the children have free play.  This could be time to color (or scribble), time for play dough, looking at picture books, experimenting with dry beans (if your child doesn't put things in his or her mouth), a long bath time (perhaps with a laptop for you), etc.

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#5 of 10 Old 01-13-2014, 01:08 PM
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We also indulge from time to time, especially if I am about to lose my cool. But, he soon wants more and more just as you are describing. One thing that helps in scaling back for us is to offer to listen to recorded stories instead - especially if you have the book too, for her to smash on the pictures while she listens. It's electronic enough to be appealing but not such a brain trap. Another help - if possible, move the computer to a less prominent place in the house so it's hard to get to (for both of you - so no checking email while making dinner). Also, when you do offer youtube, you have to stay right on it and click off/ away from the page just as the video is ending so she doesn't see the teasers for other related junk (not to mention some inappropriate images!) We still have a favorite youtube of garbage trucks for use during nail clippings, and we rely heavily on recorded stories. It's not pure dogma, but it gets the morning routine taken care of and we both leave the house with our teeth brushed! Be flexible and kind to yourself and when you have to use media, just be controlling about the content more than the media itself - avoid fast image changes and modern themes. It's ok, you can still be in the Waldorf club. 

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#6 of 10 Old 01-19-2014, 02:22 PM
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I think you have to just stop, totally. Never do it yourself and it will stop being an issue. Your DH will probably stop too when he can't get his work done. She is really, really young to have that level of exposure.

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#7 of 10 Old 01-20-2014, 12:51 PM
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At that age it is "outta sight - outta mind". Maybe cover up the computer somehow? I wouldn't say the videos in themselves are so bad for her. The problem is really the "slippery slope" element. It will be easier for you in the long run if you set boundaries that you can stick with. Dialing back is harder to do.

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#8 of 10 Old 05-02-2014, 06:48 PM
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I think just stopping is the best thing to do. Move the TV and Laptop to a room specifically designated to work ad lead by example. Only use the laptop/computer while your little one is awake if you really have to and then only for work related things. That way you can say "Mommy is working.", instead of having to explain, why you can check your emails, but your babe can't watch a video. Generally, the better your and your husband's habits, the better your little one's habits will become. She got used to using it so much, she will get used to living without it ;)


Distractions will be your single most helpful friend during the adjustment period. The younger the child, the easier they are to distract, especially if you offer some interesting, open ended playthings, that will fully involve her and require her full attention. If necessary play intensively with her for a while, until she is immersed, then you can go back to doing whatever you need to do.


And lastly...don't give in. That's a hard one, I know. But it's also the most important one. Set rules and don't break them. Don't say things like "You can watch a video later tonight.", as young children do not understand the concept of don't even try. Don't say "No, you can't watch youtube." either though - instead say something like "I understand you want to watch a video now - maybe we can play with your dolls instead...look they are sitting there all by themselves, all lonely. I think they would be happy if we went to play with them!" So acknowledge her wish to watch very briefly, then go on to an idea for a play that involves directing her attention somewhere else. Point somewhere, go with her somewhere etc.


That's all I can think of for now...hope it helps! And Kudos to you, for seeing the issue and wanting to work it out! Your baby will love you for it some day ;)

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#9 of 10 Old 09-16-2014, 11:55 PM
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I'd love to hear if anyone has done a huge downshift in screen time with a preschooler. My 3.5 year old is really resisting the limits I'm setting and like OP I don't have a husband completely on the same page. Thanks!
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#10 of 10 Old 09-17-2014, 06:53 AM
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My 3 year old was watching 2 hours of TV earlier this year during my first trimester when I was always too tired or sick to play with her. I used the TV as a babysitter. Afterwards, her aunts (my sisters) introduced her to Frozen, and she would watch it a 2-3 times a day. If she wasn't watching it, she would be asking for it.

2 months ago, I just stopped all screens. She would whine and ask for TV/iphone/iPad every day. Eventually, she began finding things to do. It took about a week before she stopped asking completely. I try to avoid using my laptop or phone in front of her, usually I use it when she's asleep or in school.

I found stopping cold turkey easier because setting time limits did not work for us. She doesn't understand what 15 minutes mean. DD would throw tantrums if she didn't get to watch her show. I felt she relied on TV for entertainment because she wouldn't want to go out and play. Since she stopped screens, she's been making up games with her toys and stuff around the house, singing and dancing more, and sleep is better. We also spend a lot more quality time together.

I understand it's harder to cut screen time with your partner isn't on board. I had trouble with this last year when I was still married, and my ex-husband was on his iPad or phone all the time. He would sit dd down in front of the TV so he can get time for himself. I understand the convenience of that since I have done it myself. But since I have seen the change in my dd since cutting out screens, I'm not tempted to go back to where we were and undo the benefits. Would it be possible for your partner to use his screens in another room, or when your kid is asleep?

It takes time and effort... good luck!!

Mama to DD1 (June 2011) and DD2 (Dec 2014)

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