Hot Topic Tuesday - Screen Time

Hot Topic Tuesday is an opportunity to take controversial, attention-grabbing, or 'hot' topics that have recently garnered attention across the social media stage and open them up for discussion.

It seems that everywhere I turn....newsfeeds, magazines, blog posts...everyone has an opinion about babies, children, and screen time. The June 2014 issue of Parents magazine mentions a Japanese study which found that TV viewing can cause physical changes in the brain (specifically the grey matter) of a child. It is noted that TV watching prior to the age of two is discouraged, with no more than two hours of TV viewing after the age of two. I've read this recommendation, which is by the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least three times in varying media sources since Baby Girl was born six months ago.

Photo Source:

Recently on my Facebook newsfeed a Ted Talk was circulating titled "How TV Affects the Brains of Young Children".

The Ted Talk is fascinating and I highly recommend watching the 16 minute video if you have the time. The presenter discusses the "Technologizing of Children", brain development, and the likelihood of attentional issues that may result from too much screen time later on in a child's life. He discourages some (not all) screen time while encouraging educational screen time such as old-school favourites like Mr. Rogers.

We live in an age where our cell phones and tablets are practically appendages of our bodies, and our computers and TVs are perpetually humming in the background of our lives. With this as our reality, is it realistic to have your child avoid screen time 100% of the time (which appears to be the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation)? What are your rules and expectations surrounding screen time and your babies/children?

My Opinion, In Case You Are Curious

Truthfully, when I first read this recommendation and the effects that TV can have on a baby's brain I felt riddled with guilt. I am a TV person and so is my husband, and although we do not use the TV as a babysitter or purposefully sit Baby Girl in front of it, the TV is often on. In fact, the TV is on so much that Baby Girl knows the sound of the TV turning on and cranes her neck in an attempt to watch it (which we try not to allow). She loves the movement and she loves the sounds and she has been this way since very early on. 

The other thought I had when I read the screen time recommendation was "I guess my mom had a means to her madness". As a child, I vividly remember having TV time limited to one hour a day when we had babysitters in the summertime, and this always seemed so unreasonable to my brother and I. We would beg our sitters to let us break that rule but it rarely if ever happened. So we would watch our hour of The Price is Right and then the TV would be turned off for the day. 

Since reading the recommendation and the resultant effects of screens on babies cognitive growth and development I have tried to have music going in the background instead of the TV. Despite this, Baby Girl is riveted by screens of all kinds when they are within her line of sight and it seems impossible to shield her from all of them. We have definitely started limiting our own screen time when Baby Girl is awake but we know this will continue to be a struggle as screens are a huge part of our daily lives. If only I could get my hands on some Mr. Rogers reruns....

What are your thoughts on this topic?