Trustful Parenting Experiment #3: Unlimited Screen Time

Beyond the basic ground rules, it’s fair game. And it would be disingenuous and kind of defeating the purpose to say that they still only watch two hours a day. Sometimes it’s less, sometimes more. But two hours is, it seems to me, kind of an arbitrary cutoff.

So what’s been the result of this experiment so far? Well, I’ll tell you what, there are no HUGE differences in our life, but it’s a little more relaxed around here. It’s been easier to get Miles to leave the house when we do need to go somewhere. They still play all the other things they usually play – trucks, drawing, Play Doh, ball, blocks, running around being crazy kids. On the first warm day of the year they/we played outside for three hours straight.

They vary their screen time (of their own volition) between watching cartoons (both still adore Curious George), playing video game apps… also, Miles likes to watch videos on my phone and also plays with the clocks and calculator, while Julius makes pretend phone calls (complete with fake laughter oh my god so funny). Miles likes to play a letter tracing game (called Letter School) and it’s worth noting that lately he has started spontaneously drawing letters with magic markers too! Both of the boys enjoy a game called the Wheels on the Bus and I love to hear them sing the song to themselves as they play with their toys later.

One unexpected upside is that the two of them seem to get along better – to my surprise, they are MUCH more cooperative about sharing video games than any other plaything! They often watch each other play or just sit close to each other while they play or watch TV which they NEVER do in any other circumstance.


I feel more relaxed because I am not having to play prison warden and enforce a rule that never really felt like it was coming from ME. I realized, once I let it go, that I had a lot of anxiety about monitoring their screen time as if their brains would suddenly turn to goo if they watched one extra hour of television. Or, you know, we’d find ourselves careening down a “slippery slope” to electronic addiction. Those fears were unwarranted and it’s nice to ease the tension around ONE of my many worries!

I do sometimes feel funny about the whole thing. It’s not always easy to rebel against a lifetime of social messages about the evils of television and to ignore the fear-baiting and anxiety-exploiting social media stories that keep coming out about how smartphones are destroying life as we know it. I just keep reminding myself to look at what’s in front of me and make parenting judgments based on how MY kids are doing and not what other people think. So far I see more benefits than drawbacks to unlimited screen time, so for now this experiment goes on.


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