36. The truth about how screen time affects your baby. No judgement, just the facts - new mom tips
Have you ever wondered how screen time affects your baby? In today’s episode, we are talking about just that.
And no, I’m not judging you if you use screens! I don’t believe in mom shaming. I just think it’s important to know why experts say we should limit our babies’ screen time during the first 2 years and beyond.
Listen in to learn how screens impact your baby’s brain development.
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FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION:
Hey there friends. Welcome to the better postpartum podcast. I’m your host Angel Swan, crunchy mom, coffee addict and postpartum doula turned new mom, coach. This podcast is your audio guide to not just surviving, but thriving during those early and newborn days. If you want to care for yourself, your household and your baby with confidence, grab your earbuds because this is the only podcast that you need. So what do you say? Should we get started with today’s episode? Let’s do this. Hey, friends, today’s topic is a little bit of a controversial one. We’re going to be talking about how screentime affects your baby. And I am not judging anyone for allowing their babies to have screen time. I’m just presenting facts so that you can make an informed decision about how you and your family use screens. Okay, like I I get it. Okay. I’ve been there I have. But anyways, before we get in, before we even get into all that, I did want to remind you to go to my website, Angel swan.com. And on there, you can grab my free postpartum planner. It’s really like the ultimate tool that’s going to guide you through building up your support system, even if you don’t have one. So it’ll help you map up think map out things like your baby care, breastfeeding, help meal prep and planning, divvying out like household chores, baby duties. So I really went all in when I created this planner so that I could give you the most holistic postpartum planner out there. So you can grab that at my website. Again, that’s Angel swan.com. Or check the episode description for that direct link. Now, let’s get into the effects of screen time on a baby’s. So first off, like the World Health Organization recommends no screen time zero screen time for babies under two years old. That’s right, you heard me two full years without screens is what they recommend. That means no screens on in the background. Don’t let your baby watch TV for two years. And to add on to that they recommend no more than one hour of screen time per day for kids who are between the ages of two and four. So can you even imagine your life with no TV or tablet time for your kiddo for a whole two years? That feels like a really long time to go without like all the all of your kids waking moments having none of that going on in the background. Now I remember when Eric and I Erica’s my husband, Eric and I were first like navigating this whole screen time issue. And so many parents swear that screentime is the only thing that holds our days together. So it can’t be that bad right screens can’t be that bad. But, you know, my own mom’s swears that my brother and I were like really, really smart kids because we watched Sesame Street every single day from the time that we were babies through toddlerhood. And then on the other hand, my mother in law, Eric’s mom was a little bit like ahead of the game, I would say and she did not let her kids watch any TV until they were at least two years old. And then she kind of she limited it. But I don’t think it was to the extent of like the recommendations of like one hour a day. So I can’t say that I noticed like any distinct difference between my brother and I versus like my husband and his siblings. But that I mean, if you just are looking at that little data pool, it’s just way too small of a data pool to draw any real conclusions about whether or not screentime like negatively affected me and my brother. But what I do know is that there has been research done with large data pools. And the research has proven that babies are definitely negatively affected by screen time, like no matter how educational of a program you put on for them. It’s just not good for them. And so based on that research, Eric and I decided that our daughter Jenny would have zero screen time until she was at least two years old. Now was that hard? Heck yeah. It was hard. I had to entertain the crap out of her for two years.
Um, days were long. I was constantly trying to find new things for us to do. I had to utilize toy rotations and once I act actually the toy rotation is great. Let me just say something about that really quick. So toy rotation. If you’re trying to entertain your kid, you have a ton of toys for them, right? Don’t put out all the toys at their disposal, I would say have like, three sets of toys, and then you only have one of them at a time. And then once your kid starts to get bored of that, that set that’s out currently swap it out. So pretty much like every week or every other week, you just switch out which toys are available to your kid and it keeps, keeps them excited about their toys keeps things fresh, less work on you for trying to entertain them. But anyways, I had to entertain my daughter a lot. But now like a little over two years later, she’s around two and a half now. She can entertain herself pretty well. She’s potty trained, she cleans up her toys when she’s done with them. I don’t you know, I have to prompt her to do these things. But she’ll do it. And I’m not gonna lie, she is a wild kid. I’ve seen that. In having like playdates with other families with kids who are the same age. Jenny is definitely crazy. Crazy in a good way. But she’s extra. And she gets tested me to the max. But I really, really think that having no screen time for the first two years has really allowed her to have like the foundations needed to be a functional and like helpful member of society moving forward. So like I said before, the World Health Organization recommends no screen time for babies under two years old. And then no more than one hour of screen time per day for kids between the ages of two and four. So sure, that’s your recommendation, but like why, so let’s just get into those recommendations really quick. So the first reason that screen time takes away. Sorry, the first reason that this recommendation is out there is that screentime takes away from your child’s attention span, I feel like that’s something that you might be able to like, figure out on your own. But this is especially so during the early years when their brain is still developing, there is so much development happening in their little brains during those first two years especially. And then again, during the years like two to four. They’re just little sponges. And during those early years, their brain is learning how to concentrate and focus. Inward order to develop this part of your baby’s brain, you know, they have to receive stimuli from the environment. And they need time to process all of that. And when they’re watching TV shows, or watching screens or whatever, that just like doesn’t give their brain enough time to actually process what’s going on is just kind of flashing a bunch of images at them really fast. And their brain is trying to keep up with it. But they’re just not at a level where they can really take in all that information and really understand it. So that impacts their attention span and their ability to focus. Now if your child doesn’t have the ability to focus or hold their attention, then they’re going to get bored really quickly. And they’re going to get bored of being bored. So let me explain that concept being to be bored of being bored. So first of all, it’s okay for your kid to be bored, you don’t actually have to entertain them 24/7. So let me just say that and take a little bit of weight off of your shoulders. being bored, lets your kids have time and space to think. So if they’re constantly being stimulated by screens, they’re not going to have the opportunity to be bored. Or think about things as deeply as they would if they were bored. And then this leads to frustration. And it really impacts their imagination and their motivation. So if you want your child to be able to play independently, this is why it’s so important that you let them be bored sometimes let them go without the screen, so that they can find a way to have fun in whatever situation that they’re in. But before they can do that, we have to train them to do it and training them to do that means allowing them to be bored, giving them the space to think without having a screen
flashing images in front of their eyes, basically. So then the next reason that you want to limit or completely cut out screentime is that it actually reduces empathy. So if babies and young kids are watching these screens for long periods of times, then they’re not actually learning how to read people’s faces and social cues. And that is something that they need to do in order to be able to develop empathy. So the way that our kids develop empathy and compassion for others is by having those face to face like one on one interactions, where they can pick up on the nonverbal cues. And then like interpret them. This is especially important for like babies under two years. So basically like until our babies are able to develop language fully, they’re completely relying on nonverbal cues to communicate and learn. And when we use a screen, it just doesn’t allow them, the time to process the nonverbal cues, like they would be able to do in like a face to face interaction. Because the screen again, it just moves too quickly for that to happen. So going screen free, allows your baby to learn how to read people’s emotions, and then control their own emotions, which is going to help them play and interact with other children. So the benefits are going screen free for those first two years, especially, are going to carry on into the rest of their lives. Now, I do know that it is really hard to go all day without using a screen, I get it, I was tempted all the time to turn on a screen, you need a break or your baby is sick, and you want them to sit still long enough to just like Rest, rest their body or whatever the situation is. So if you do find that, you need to rely on the screen for some certain moments, it’s just important to make sure that whatever your baby is going to be watching is engaging and age appropriate. So something that’s going to move a little bit slower, something that teaches them about colors or shapes, emotions, not like we don’t want to have them watch whatever show it is that you as an adult would like want to watch. So you know, no Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones for the kids. I feel like that doesn’t need to be said, but I’m just gonna put it out there. Because I’ve definitely had clients who kind of put those things on in the background, and you would be so surprised at what your kids are picking up on. I have seen it. Working with multi, you know, multiple clients for many, many months at a time with each client, I see their kids picking up on things. It’s so freaky how they’re just, they’re little sponges really. And you know, like I said earlier, like we did not let Jenny watch any TV until she was two years old, with the exception exception of when she got cold. So she would be like super sick. But she didn’t want to miss out on any fine. So she would be like snotty and coughing and sneezing and she was still trying to like run around and play. And I knew that like the only way I could get her to sit and stay still was to put on the TV. So when I did need to like rely on the screen, I played things for her that I knew would be engaging and entertaining enough to like hold her attention for a while. And even now that she’s too, I still limit her screen time a lot. Because if she just becomes a little monster if I leave it on for too long, to be honest. She starts demanding Elmo. So the only two shows that she really watches right now are Sesame Street and Daniel Tiger. For some reason, she’ll sit and watch Sesame Street as long as I let her and she does really like Daniel Tiger. But she’ll typically get up like in the middle of the episode and go find something else to do. She just gets kind of bored of it. But something about those fuzzy monsters on Sesame Street really just she they get her I don’t know. But she really does turn into a monster if I let her watch a skirt. I mean really any amount of Sesame Street because the moment that I have to turn it off, what Mo Mo like over and over and over again and then she’ll start stomping her feet and crying and screaming and now like she’s old enough that she she doesn’t forget about what she’s mad about. So we could go maybe an hour after her little initial tantrum. And then an hour later she’s like, oh, right, you turned off elbow and I wanted to watch it what Oh, whoa, what a watch elbow.
So it’s like a slippery slope. So I’ve just found for us like it’s just our whole day goes a lot smoother. If I don’t let her utilize really technology at all. She kind of does the same thing with our Amazon device. I’m not gonna say madam a his name case you’re having this on like a speaker or whatever. But when she has control over that, that’s a whole other thing that we end up just unplugging the device because Jenny gets like power hungry. She calls it Agasa so she’ll say Agasa play a mo song. I guess I’m playing Daniel Tiger. Agasa Agasa Agasa and she won’t let her finish song or whatever it is just like it’s very clear that home girl cannot handle technology. Um, but anyways, all of this to say, if you are using screens, like I get it, and I’m not trying to make you feel bad at all, I just think that it’s important to know why the like these recommendations have been made by the World Health Organization, and I’m sure other institutions as well, but I just find them to be more credible. I trust them, you know. But it’s just important to know why, like, these boundaries are important, especially for babies. And it’s, yeah, it’s just good for babies to experience the world at their own pace, you know, not at the pace of a TV show. We want them to have the time to process what they’re seeing, learn from it. And that’s really like the whole point of telling you all this in today’s episode. So I hope I didn’t make anybody feel bad. I’m not trying to hurt your feelings. I promise. I’m not judging you. I still think you’re a good mom, even if you’re using your screens. And yeah, you know, if you have listened to my podcast thus far, and you’ve learned something new, you like what you hear, and maybe you haven’t taken that one minute to leave me a review on Apple podcasts? Could you just do me a favor and go and do that today? Like if I’ve helped you in any way, if you’ve learned something like really, the best way to thank me is to leave me a five star rating and a written review. It seriously just takes one minute of your time. But it makes a huge impact on my day, and on the day of another mom who might find my podcast because you took the time to leave that review. Because every review bumps up this podcast in the parenting charts, which means more moms who need to hear this advice, these tips can easily find it. So yeah, would you take that minute to go and leave me a rating and review? Five stars if you love it, right. Alright guys, that’s all for today’s episode. Thank you so much for listening. I will talk to you soon. Buh bye. Thank you so much for listening to the better postpartum podcast. Here’s what I want you to do next. If you loved what you heard today, would you do me a giant favor and leave me a written five star review? Those little love notes that you leave are the perfect way to thank me for putting out these episodes just for you. Seriously, it would mean the world to me. Next, take a screenshot of the episode you’re listening to right now and share it on your Instagram stories and make sure you tag me at Angel dot swan. That’s SW o n so that more moms can find this podcast and hopefully get the advice and encouragement they need to truly thrive with their babies. And don’t forget to come back every single week for more nuggets of wisdom and truth bombs about the early motherhood journey. I’ll talk to you next time. Bye bye