Technology & Toddlers: How Do You Set Limits?Emily McClements
This morning my family was sitting down to a breakfast of coffee cake, right out of the oven, while the first big snowfall of the winter swirling around outside. We’re enjoying our last day off together before my husband heads back to work tomorrow, and my daughter goes back to school on Wednesday.
But, when we called Brenden to come to the table, he didn’t come running, and as we casually looked around, we didn’t really see him anywhere.
So, we started looking a little closer and I noticed his little legs sticking out from behind a rocking chair that is next to our fireplace. Without talking, I pointed to my husband so he could look too, and see what Bren was up to.
We should have known — he was sitting there hiding because he had taken my husband’s iPhone and was playing Angry Birds, and he knew if we saw him we would take it away.
Sneaky little guy!
But, we’ve been dealing with this a lot over the past few weeks.
While we were visiting my family for Christmas, every time my sister would walk in the door, the first thing Bren would do is ask her if he could play “Mad Birds” (what he calls Angry Birds), or some other game on her iPad. Both he and my daughter routinely take my husband’s iPhone when they find it lying around, and can get to their game of choice or a video on Netflix before we even realize what they’re doing.
When they use my husband’s phone without permission, we usually make them turn it off, and tell them that they have to ask first. But then we get the nagging questions,”Can I play Mad Birds?” “Can I watch a video?” “Can I play slice the fruit (Fruit Ninja)?” over and over and over.
So, I’m beginning to wonder are we letting our kids use technology too often? And do we need to set limits on the amount they can use it, each day, or each week? And if so, what limits are truly appropriate for their age?
I’m thinking maybe a 15 minute limit for each of them per day, and when they’ve used up their 15 minutes, they’re done for the day, even if they use it very first thing in the morning. But, I’m wondering if any of you have other ideas or suggestions, as parents of toddlers, for how we can set appropriate limits on technology for our kids, while still giving them the privilege of playing, because it’s fun for them and I’m really not anti-technology, I’m just anti-my kid’s face staring at a little screen all day long.
What do you think? Should toddlers have limits on their use of technology like iPhones or iPads? And if so, what should those limits be?