Screen Time and Kids

a child stands, watching TV. Topic discussed is screen time and kids

Only it’s exhausting. I don’t know if it’s because adults have less energy than children or if it’s because our minds are running through our list of to-do every time more than an hour passes of their playtime. I just don’t have their level of energy. So sometimes I find myself asking my kids to come inside and rest.

But then I get this:

“I’m bored”

“I have nothing to do”

“So, what about that new Lego you just got?”

“I already put it together”.

Really? That lasted all of 20 minutes.

“What about playing Monopoly/Clue/fill-in-the-blank with your favorite board game?”

Of course they don’t want to do that now.

So after some back-and-forth and me still not being able to get through even #1 on my to-do list because of the constant interruptions from my kids, I find myself begging them to watch TV. Or play Xbox. Anything that will allow me to get through one phone call without an interruption. Is that okay? Isn’t that exactly what “they” say you shouldn’t do?


So here is my confession:

I am a pediatrician. And I am one of the ones in the “they” that recommends limited TV/screen time for kids. Here is the official AAP statement:

The AAP recommends that children have less than 2 hours of screen time per day.

Okay. I understand that too much media is not good for kids. But I also think that in our busy day-to-day life we have a difficult time working around this. And some TV, computer or other media doesn’t necessarily have to be the evil that some can make us feel it is.

So, here’s my take on this topic, which is also my philosophy about quite a lot of things in life: Everything in moderation. Sometimes you will go beyond the 2 hours in a day and sometimes you need the TV to be your babysitter so you can finish that phone call/ shower/fill-in-the-blank with a million other of life’s to-dos. But, I also think that by getting those moments of free time I am then more available afterwards to be a better parent. I have more patience and appreciation for them just being kids after I have had a moment to just be an adult.

So, I say: Let some of that guilt roll off your back… enjoy the time while your kids have their media-fix and then make sure to take the time to enjoy being with them afterwards!

Yael Wapinski, MD is a pediatrician and a busy mother to three beautiful boys. Her Upper East Side practice is affiliated with Mount Sinai in Manhattan, NY.

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  1. I actually think that this is a sign of our modern-parenting mess-up. Kids this age used to be running around WITHOUT their parents. They biked, they played ball, they climbed. Moms and Dad’s vaguely knew where they were and all the parents watched out for everyone else’s kids. Kids older than 4 aren’t suppose to be hanging on parent’s coat tails – we can’t keep up. Somehow we need to change this around. I don’t have the answer other than we need to remember how things were when we were kids and we need to send our kids out into the world without us to play. Then we can sit on the front stoop and make that phone call.

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