Monthly Parenting Magazine

Three ways you can use toddler screen time better

Three ways you can use toddler screen time better

Toddler Screen Time

Our biggest source of mum guilt, the Absolutely Mama team gives their top tips for using toddler screen time in a more positive way

Toddler screen time (and how much your little one is watching) has to be one of the number one reasons for mum guilt. We all use what we like to call the ‘digital nanny’ from time-to-time – whether it’s to help you get some housework done, get through a long car journey, or a work zoom call.

The good news is that screen time isn’t all bad. This 2019 study found that screen time, in moderation, can actually have some positive effects. Researchers reported that children who spend one to two hours a day watching TV or using digital devices had higher levels of social and emotional wellbeing than those who had no screen time.

If this has you breathing a big sigh of relief, you might also be happy to know that there are also ways that you can make screen time more positive. From choosing ‘gentle shows’ to ‘active watching’, here are our top tips.

Try active watching

If you’ve put the television on after a long day of work and nursery and you’re sat on the sofa with your little one, try doing some active watching. Most experts agree that passive watching isn’t the best for young children. Try asking your little one some questions about the programme, like what their favourite part was, or talking together about the story and what happened.

Choose calm, gentle and educational shows

Make sure you always know what your little one is watching and choose high quality programming. Experts warn that overstimulating programmes can have a negative effect, so we like to be mindful about the shows we choose. Some of our favourite calm, gentle and educational shows include Puffin Rock, Peter Rabbit, and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom.

Set some sensible limits

The NHS doesn’t have detailed guidance for screen time among babies and toddlers. However they do recommend. you limit screen time. We know this can be tough when there’s wall-to-wall Netflix (unlike when kid’s TV used to just be on after school and Saturday mornings!).

We find it helpful to set certain times of day when there’s no TV allowed, like mealtimes and before bed. If you’re guilty of using TV as a digital nanny (don’t worry, that’s us too!), then brainstorm some screen-free activities that your little ones can do without your input. Preparing these in advance so you can set them up quickly and easily should (hopefully!) stop you from grabbing the remote too often.

And finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s impossible to escape screens, but hopefully with these tips you should be able to make screen time work better for your family.

Read more parenting tips here.