My kids had literally no limits for screentime until my five-year-old told me that I was his evil stepmother. I kid you not, this child looked me dead in the face and said to me “You’re not my mom, you’re my evil stepmom.”
Now, at that moment, I was already at my wits end. The sleeping issues, the sensory overloads, the unacceptable language were all overwhelming; But let me be clear…… it was the tantrums for me! Imagine waking up in the best of moods, only to have it drastically changed by a screaming 5-year-old, all because you told him to brush his teeth before playing on his tablet.
Story-time As a young mother of two, and being the primary caregiver, I sometimes get very overwhelmed with my children. During the pandemic, this was even worse, because when they became bored, they unleashed chaos in the house. So, in late 2020, I made the decision to purchase two tablets. It cost me an entire month’s salary, but it was the best day of their little lives; they could not contain their joy and excitement, and I too felt rather proud that I was able to buy them their own devices.
Over the next few months, my house was somewhat peaceful, there wasn’t much fighting, I was getting work done, and I was even able to nap at times. They were glued to YouTube and all seemed well. For a short while, I thought that I had made the best purchase of my life.
Changes Parents, believe it when I tell you this: Device addiction in children is R.E.A.L.
It wasn’t until about 6 months later that I began seeing some negative effects. It started with my 5-year-old son crying hysterically when the battery died, or throwing serious tantrums if I tried to make him take a screen break. Looking back, if I had the knowledge that I do now, I would have limited screentime earlier.
According to Dr. David Greenfield from the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, “We don’t know the long-term ramifications of excessive screen use…. The brain is responding to an excess of stimulation, and the brains of these children are being bombarded with sound, movement, and color in a way that we’ve never seen before.”
“We think that it desensitizes the child to other forms of stimulation and input, and, therefore, it may make learning more difficult and make it harder to gain that level of attention later in life,” he noted.
Think about it, growing up, we were never exposed to these forms of stimuli. But in today’s age, children are exposed to so much.
By August of 2022, everything was chaotic. Both my sons were struggling to be calm without the tablets. They would act very uncivilized if they were without it and instantly relax once they got it. They were having trouble sleeping and focusing in school.
One day, I tried to take the device away from my son and he yelled out “I hate you; I hate you so much.” It was at that moment that I decided to take a closer look at the videos he was watching on YouTube. And lo and behold, I found the answer.
There are so many videos on this platform that encourage naughty behavior in children, literally teaching them how to throw tantrums, and how to act if they don’t get their own way. If you don’t believe me, take a moment to look at the content that your child is watching.
So how much is acceptable? And what can you do?
Most experts and doctors say that children under 5 should have little to no screen time, 6-to-9-year olds should have no more than an hour a day, and Kids 10 and up shouldn’t go beyond 2 hours.
You can also monitor the content and supervise screentime for younger kids, especially if you are allowing them to use YouTube. Ensure that the videos they are watching are age appropriate and safe.
Find Kid-friendly YouTubers such as Brave Wilderness or Ryan Toys Review. Additionally, be sure to check out these amazing black YouTube shows for kids: Sekora and Sefari Play, Whizzaroo, Cali’s Playhouse, Goo Goo Colors, Levi’s Adventures, Nolan Your Toy Expert, Samia’s Life, Zoey Sarai is Here.
Lastly, if your child is old enough, speak to them about what they are watching on YouTube, what they are learning, who they are following. You may be surprised as to what they are exposed to.
As parents in 2022, we all face the screen-time dilemma, but it is up to us to find a balance between enjoying technology and other external stimulation. Encourage your child to read a book, play outdoors, write a letter to a friend, or even have a conversation with you.