The amount of time children spend with a screen matters, but type of screen time matters as well. Since my twins Ferran and León where little, I have been restrictive in both the quantity and quality of what they watch on a screen. Until they turned 2 years old (they are 2 years and 3 months old now), I only let them watch classical music concerts for around 20-30 minutes daily. Their screen time consisted of a conductor leading an orchestra and creating beautiful sounds that my kids would enjoy. When they turned 2, I expanded the repertoire and started to let them watch musical films such as “The Sound of Music” or the original ‘80-90s’ Winnie-the-Pooh series.
Last week I took them to watch the latest Pixar film, COCO. I was afraid they might get scared because most of the movie characters are skulls… but the experience turned out to be beautiful. They laughed the whole movie, enjoyed the colors and the music, and although they might have not fully understood the story, I believe that they could catch pieces of the nice familiar message the movie has to offer.
Nowadays, the twins watch a maximum of 1 1/2 hours of TV daily, and the rest of the day they are running all around, riding their scooters and playing in the park. The latest Canadian Movement Guidelines for children aged 0-4 years recommends at least 180 minutes of physical activities throughout the day for children aged 1-4 years old, and for the infants (less than 1 year) “tummy time” and movement all around several times a day. With regards to screen time, they do not recommend it for those between 0 and 2 years old, and for preschoolers (3-4 years) sedentary screen time should be limited to 1 hour.
What I would add is that the time they get in front of a screen should also have an educational purpose, instead of being solely entertainment (or almost addictive) time. We as parents need to be just as concerned about what they are watching, and realize that it is not the same to watch musical-educational programs as it is shows that only seek to make kids “numb” (you know which ones I’m talking about!).
Today my twins love to spend their time playing music; Ferrán with the piano and León with the guitar. I’d like to think this has to do with my choice in their screen time content. What would you like your kids hobbies and passions to be?
Let’s make screen time a healthy and learning experience for the kids!