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to not limit 'screen time'

(49 Posts)
MsColour Sat 25-Jan-14 15:31:35

I have never put a set limit on the amount of screen time my kids have but I have friends who do. By screen time i mean games and TV. The reasons I don't are:
a) my friends' children who do have limited screen time seem to become obsessed with it and seem to crave it more.
b) I want the children to learn to regulate it themselves - deciding when they've had enough and learning the hard way that they miss out on other stuff by becoming engrossed in ds games etc.
c) I think a daily limit is hard to enforce consistently. There are days eg. if it's wet outside, children particularly tired them it might be appropriate for them to have a bit more. And in the summer when they might be playing out they might not want it at all.
d) We are usually busy doing other stuff so they would never have the chance to spend most of the day in front of as screen anyway.

I would obviously never allow them excessive periods of time in front of a screen but there is no set time limit.

AIBU?

Mandy2003 Sat 25-Jan-14 15:35:55

YANBU, IMO smile

SinisterSal Sat 25-Jan-14 15:41:34

I would obviously never allow them excessive periods of time in front of a screen but there is no set time limit.

Well that is limiting screen time, isn't it? I would think most people allow more when everyone's down with some lurgy/it's raining/stuck indoors all day but less when those factors don't apply.

i'm all for kids learning to regulate themselves, but they do need guidance especially when it's soemthing as moreish and habit forming as tv watching

Olbasoil Sat 25-Jan-14 15:46:29

We don't limit screen time. It's never been a problem. Ds1 is older by 7.5 years than the DT's & 9 years older than the youngest. Ds1 needs his computer for homework and he has a playstation, xbox ,ipod & a kindle, the xbox is disconnected and he plays Manager or fifa on the playstation for about an hour. Ds3 plays fifa with ds1 but that's it. Dd hardly uses the computer, I thought she might enjoy SIMS but she had a huff and wont touch it ! Ds4 is nearly 3 and doesn't like computers as you have to sit still, he likes digging!

They all get plenty of exercise outside, they don't whinge or moan they are bored ( well dd does but that's a different problem)

The only thing that we don't like them doing is putting the TV on and doing something else while it's on. If they want to watch then they watch, but no bouncing around .

RiojaHaze Sat 25-Jan-14 15:50:07

It also depends on the child - DD who is 7 can self regulate but DS 5 gets so absorbed that he would happily do nothing else except play on his DS/iPad.

So if your kids are like my DS then YABU, but if they're like DD then YANBU!

MsColour Sat 25-Jan-14 15:50:16

sinistersal - well yes it is limiting it to an extent. But I what I don't do is limit it to an hour a day or set timers on the Wii which is what i've seen other people do (and then struggle to enforce).

yourlittlesecret Sat 25-Jan-14 15:51:52

Well I think it depends how old they are.
They do, at some point, need to learn to manage their own time.
I rationed it when they were younger. I did not allow games consoles until they were 12 and then set strict time limits.
You are right in saying they were obsessed with it and resented it.
From about 14 I relaxed the rules and left them to it apart from nagging a bit if I thought they were overdoing things. It was only then that they did start to self regulate. However I remain convinced that they would never have self regulated at an earlier age.

Panzee Sat 25-Jan-14 15:52:12

I think it depends on the child too. I'm not planning on limiting it with my 4 year old and it's not been an issue so far. But who knows how he will be as he gets older?

ouryve Sat 25-Jan-14 15:56:38

It really depends on the child. We don't limit TV because, apart from phases, they don't watch much, but we have to limit DS1's time on the computer or tablet because he has ADHD and really needs to take a break after an hour, or else he bounces around like a spooked puppy when he's finished. We don't need to impose set times on DS2, though, because he varies his activity far more. He'll play Minion rush for a bit, go find his toy minion and play with that, then go back and play petting zoo, get up and stretch his legs or have a dance, go back to minion rush. We only take it off him if it's getting close to bedtime, if he has been unusually engrossed in a game for too long, if he won't wear his glasses or if he is becoming frustrated and angry with it.

MyNameIsKenAdams Sat 25-Jan-14 15:57:09

Hmm.....I get letting them to learn to self regulate, however it van also be a great reward.

A friends son learns the piano and every 20mins piano practice earns him 20mins xbox time.

Helpyourself Sat 25-Jan-14 16:03:09

How old?!

MsColour Sat 25-Jan-14 16:08:29

My dd is 7 - she is more likely to get engrossed in a game, especially when it's new. Ds is 4 and would rather be playing with his toys or outside.

LeBFG Sat 25-Jan-14 16:19:46

Self-regulation in babies/toddlers comes up so often in all kinds of different scenarios. I think it's nice to have 'faith' in children's reasoning abilities (and I think more people should be like that with kids actually) - but I really think there is a risk expecting kids to regulate something as unnaturally stimulating as TV. My DSis is fairly relaxed with her children and one day left them to it (she had an essay to finish): they sat ALL DAY in front of the screen and even complained 'we haven't played yet' when put to bed. These were 4/5yos btw.

wobblyweebles Sat 25-Jan-14 16:35:06

Last time I stayed in the same house as my nephew I heard him playing Grand Theft Auto till 5am.

OP - do you think not regulating screen time was working well for him?

lljkk Sat 25-Jan-14 16:43:16

I think it depends on the kid what works.

I thought that if we didn't limit time that 7yo DS would get bored.
He didn't get bored. 12-14 hours/day of games. For days on end. Not stopping to eat, Shrieking with fury about ever having to get off or go anywhere else. Other parents making it clear we were terrible parents not to make him get off.
I could imagine some of the other DC self-moderating, but not DS.
I do have lots of addicts/alcoholics in the family, probably genetic predisposition towards addictive behaviour.
Plus I had multiple kids and we needed a system for sharing, who got how many hours and in equal amounts. So we had to resort to limits. it is a pain, but tis life.

Now teenage DS got a computer in own room for his birthday 4 months ago and barely ever gets off of it. Very depressing. But I'll let you know in 4 yrs if he finally learns to self-moderate.

siblingrevelry Sat 25-Jan-14 16:46:55

This is quite topical for us as we've had a tv revelation in our household.

Generally my three children tend to get bored with the tv and walk away after a couple of short programmes so it's never been a huge issue (we don't yet allow anything else-they're 6, 5 & 2).

Over the last few months our middle DS (5) has been going to bed and getting up once or twice: a drink/toilet/'bad dream', all within minutes of lights out. We had let bedtime slip a little (when getting toddler ready I would let them watch tv in our bed whilst waiting for daddy to get home and read story). Following the xmas break we've stopped them watching any tv at least an hour before bed and it's quite miraculous. He doesn't mess about at all at bedtime, and I could kick myself for the months of frustration caused by something so simple. Just from getting into a bad habit (we knew it wasn't advisable to have screen time before bed but we mistakenly thought it didn't apply once they were older) we caused a problem which didn't need to happen. I wondered if it was coincidence, but last night they were allowed to watch a movie, then straight off to bed. Hence a trip downstairs from them both!

But in answer to your op, apart from evenings they self-regulate!

Onesie Sat 25-Jan-14 16:59:46

We are quite busy some days and to set a daily amount of hours would be impractical. We generally watch a film and a nature documentary at the weekend. They also might play a game with friends on the Wii for an hour and watch an of CBEEBIES or do bbc bite-size midweek. So about 5 or 6 hours a week unless we are ill or particularly run down.

As a child I remember being totally bored by telly. I'd much rather be doing interesting things instead.

I think if my kids were to self regulate their own lives they wouldn't go to bed till 10 (and would be a nightmare the next day), would eat chocolate only, would never bath or brush their teeth, they would never ever go to school etc. If self regulating themselves with TV, they would watch too much (well as much as kids who aren't regulated).

We avoid too much telly because a) most of its a load of crap and brain numbing B) watching too much makes my kids very crabby c) my friends kids who aren't regulated are obsessed by screens and are very anti social, insular and rude with visitors d) kids are meant to be active.

MsColour Sat 25-Jan-14 17:01:47

No Wobblyweebles, it wasn't working for him and not a scenario I'd be happy with in my house. DC won't be getting consoles in their rooms, they don't have screens around bedtime - it's not a strict rule, just not part of their routine.

Squitten Sat 25-Jan-14 17:05:40

I agree it depends on the child.

We don't have a proper telly any more but when DS1 was little, it was pretty much unlimited and he got far too attached to it. As he got older, he was asking for it all the time and would get increasingly stroppy about it being turned off. Now he's the same about the iPad, particularly the games on it. He's 5 now and has no screen time at all Mon-Fri. On weekends it varies but tends to be limited by being out. We go rid of all the games on it so it's just tv/movies and he's a lot better now.

DS2 is very different. You can give him unlimited access and he takes it and leaves it, mostly wandering off after a little while and is generally not bothered about it.

JCDenton Sat 25-Jan-14 17:13:40

I agree, 'limit yourself or I will limit it for you, harshly' is a good policy. Self discipline is one of the most important skills to learn.

Also taking the content into account is important, it seems like a lot of people on here are more concerned with how content is delivered than what it actually is.

MsColour Sat 25-Jan-14 17:22:00

I wonder if it helps that we are not the type of household where screens are constantly on as well. It tends not to be habit.

What often happens is that friends' kids in the neighbourhood are given their ration of 'screen time' and I told to go out to play where they then knock on their friends' doors hoping to sneak some more screen time. My children will say to them that they can play on the Wii for as long as they like (which isn't strictly true!) so I feel like a bad parent. But then when my children go outside to play they actually play and don't seek out other screens.

crazykat Sat 25-Jan-14 17:35:34

I don't limit it for my older DCs (6,5,3). They get plenty of exercise and time outside when weather permits. I was never limited as a child and learned to self regulate as my DCs are.

I don't like silence so often have the tv or stereo on low for background noise. It doesn't seem to have affected them, dd1 (6 yo) has always been ahead her class and is often found with her nose buried in a book or dancing round to music. Ds1 (5yo) is usually charging around pretending to be a ninja turtle or Spider-Man.

I don't see the harm in letting them watch tv or play on their DSi or wii so long as they also spend time reading and playing outside. IMO playing word games and puzzles on a DSi is no different from playing card games, board games or doing jigsaws.

randomAXEofkindness Sat 25-Jan-14 17:43:09

Ours have got tablets, pc, and tv. I don't set strict limits. I only download apps that I'm happy for them to spend a long time on anyway (duolingo, montessori etc). We use a laptop as a tv and they only watch the programmes I've introduced them to on youtube. They usually ask if they can have another one when the last one has finished and I say yay or nay. This is more to do with sharing/making sure everyone is getting their preferred show in than anything else. If I think they've watched too much, I introduce something else to distract them and switch it off. Or sometimes I'll do coloring in print outs of the show they're watching or encourage them to draw a picture of the characters themselves. They'll happily pause it so that they can copy better. They like sesame street and arthur games on the pc. I think they're great and I'm happy for them to play on them for as long as they like.

I'm in two minds about whether they'll self regulate. I want to believe they will, but I'm not convinced (dss, who's 12, would never leave his room if it was up to him). They do play the whole way through programmes usually, which is good, and left to their own devices they do get bored and stop watching in the end, but not soon enough for me to be comfortable about it. If they're just sat still eyes fixed to the screen for ages I do get anxious. I don't want to make a big deal out of it to them, so I'll keep using my distraction techniques while they still work and then review it when/if they stop working. I certainly wouldn't want to make a big 'ishoo' out of it though. And I agree with the previous poster who said that doing puzzles/word games on a computer is no different from doing them off the computer. And to be honest, if I didn't see a benefit to the kids from the technology, I'd just bin it (as I'm sure would a lot of other parents), it's just finding the right balance isn't it?

IsItMeOr Sat 25-Jan-14 18:17:06

Hm, so MsColour you do seem to be making a distinction between yourself (wouldn't let them watch too much, and not near bedtime), and other parents who - wait for it - don't let them watch too much, and not near bedtime.

You're kidding yourself that you aren't limiting screen time. It's just that your DC (what age?) haven't challenged it (yet?).

yourlittlesecret Sat 25-Jan-14 18:31:15

Things have changed even in 10 years.
I find this interesting because my children are older and when they were the age of the OPs (4 and 7) there were no ipads or apps.
We had a PC but it wasn't of interest to the DC. So screen time was TV and video only, quite easy to limit, and to use as reward.
It does seem to me that with all the best intentions, most parents have given up the battle by the time they have teenagers. And make no mistake, those of you with compliant little ones, a battle it will be.

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