Why I’m not going to limit screen time 31

Not limiting screen time

This year for Ellis’ birthday, we bought him a tablet.

I never thought I would be that parent.

I used to get quietly angry seeing young children attached to their parents tablets for hours on end. Seeing children watching Mickey Mouse in a restaurant made me secretly judge that parent. Can’t be bothered to parent your children huh?

Then as Hayden grew and we realised there were issues, my judgement of other parents stopped.

I didn’t know what that family were going through, I had no idea whether that child had spent the past 3 hours crying and whinging and actually the tablet was out because the parents were at their wits end. I didn’t know if that child had been up since 2am and mum was just bloody knackered. I didn’t know if that child had any issues and a tablet was the only way to keep them calm in a public environment. Who am I to judge?

I am now in a position where I could easily be judged by people that don’t know me and don’t know what I go through on a daily basis. On the surface we are a regular family of 5, with 3 gorgeous little boys. But underneath that, we are a lot more complicated.

Hayden’s autism has meant Ellis has had some delays in his development. I have talked about this many times before in previous posts such as A Pressure for Speech and my piece for Emma’s Diary. Many of these delays I have been quite concerned about, but have tried to keep telling myself, it will all come in the end. But it was taking it’s time that’s for sure!

About 6 weeks ago I let Ellis have a go on my iPad for the first time. I was trying to do a bit of work and I just needed Ellis to occupy himself for half an hour. He was brilliant with it! With one explanation he ‘got’ what he was supposed to do. He loved the claps and cheers he was getting for doing something right.

Within half an hour he was copying the words the games were saying. And for the first time ever he was naming shapes. I could not believe my eyes. I had spent hours with books and toys trying to get him to name shapes, and although he could say the word (albeit not very clearly) getting them right was just an uphill battle. But yet half an hour on the iPad and he could name a square, a circle, a triangle and 9 times out of 10 a rectangle correctly.

The same with colours.

Colour Matching

We have spent months working on colours, and although he could match colours he would just guess at which one they were. After a couple of goes on the iPad he could recognise, yellow, blue, red, green and purple. And is now constantly pointing out the colours of things, which is also helping me progress his speech. He points out a colour and I mirror back the word, also adding in the object he is naming. Which he then copies.

My biggest concern was surrounding his speech. And in the last 6 weeks it has progressed quicker than I ever thought it would. I can’t say for certain whether the two things are linked but it is very coincidental that since he has started playing educational games on a tablet his speech is getting better.

There have also been a couple of occasions him and Hayden have played together with the iPad too. Which is just magical to see. Hayden would have a go, and if he couldn’t do it, Ellis would do it. And vice versa. They played alongside each other for 2 hours the other day without one single argument. I could have cried watching my two boys play together, happily. The only other game they like to play is fighting so this was a welcome change.

Boys playing with my iPad

I’m not saying I will allow him to play on a tablet all day every day, but the progression in the last 6 weeks has been amazing! And if this is his preferred way of learning then I am not going to limit that. The tablet coupled with going to pre school 5 mornings a week, alongside the other things we get up to will surely keep pushing his progression in the right direction.

Until we have complete two way understanding I wont be adding films and games with no educational value, but one day I will. I think it’s time we accepted the way our children will learn is going to be very different from the way we learnt. And iPads, tablets and other technology will be the future. Who knows our great grandchildren may never learn to write?!


The Twinkle Diaries

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31 thoughts on “Why I’m not going to limit screen time

  • Jenny

    My son has his own tablet and would be glued to his xbox if I let him. There are benefits to it and drawbacks, it’s so hard to know what’s the right thing. Well done for overcoming hurdles xx

  • Anna Fraser

    ok. Hands up. I’m that mum who secretly judges technology use by families in restaurants etc. so when I read your blog post title on Twitter I thought, ‘here we go, this’ll be interesting’ … And you know, I stand corrected. I now I feel a bit bad. I guess I had never really thought about tablet use as being potentially educational and calming etc and actually, Who am I to judge? Exactly. I have no business judging.

    And with that, you have completely altered my opinion on technology use.

    Apologies to all I have previously judged. (Except for the ones that I know damn well to be lazy parents! 😉 )

    Great post x

    • Sons, Sand & Sauvignon Post author

      Anna- thank you so much for your comment. This is why I wrote this post, to help others understand why sometimes they are needed. And I am still amazed daily by Ellis’ improvement! He now recognises half of the alphabet, something that would have took months and months to learn without his tablet xx

  • Mimiroseandme

    I love this post. I agree too, I think tablets or tv programmes are great for children as there is really not limit as to what they can do. My niece has been learning so many new words on her mums tablets. It’s pretty amazing. 🙂 x

  • Laura

    Totally agree..there is nothing wrong with letting the kids use tablets and watch TV. Our parents used the same tactics to keep us occupied but their tools were colouring books and crayons – tablets are now our tools. I always said that I wouldn’t let them watch TV but some of the programmes are great for their learning xx

  • Becky (@educatingr)

    Wow, so fantastic that it had such a positive effect on your son’s life and development. I agree that they have be an excellent source of learning. My son is a little small for one yet at 14 months but he has had a little go on CBeebies app. When I was young my mum used to bring paper and crayons to a restaurant to keep me occupied. I see the tablet as a modern version of this!

  • Erin @ Nourishing My Scholar

    Great post! I use to be that parent that would judge because a kid was having screen time. There were so many studies that said it was bad….but then my own son showed me that he learned better through screens. Now I’ve learned not to judge other parents and kids. I don’t know what their life is like…what they need, how they learn or what works best for them. We all have to do what works best regardless of what others think. Thanks for sharing at Twinkly Tuesday. 🙂

  • Mama Zen

    It sounds like nothing but positive things have come from him using it. Its lovely that they played so nicely together, I have yet to get my two to do that! right that’s it.. I’m getting an IPad! #twinklytuesday

  • Clare Peckover

    Totally agree. This is how our children will grow up, Conway has used the iPad at nursery and I’m sure they will use similar at school too. At home he uses my phone/iPad, although we got Gina leap pad when he was 2 which he still uses and the games are very educational but fun, that’s what it’s all about! X

  • Sarah

    Hey Claire.

    Completely agree, I used to b exactly the same. Think it is easy to be in our line of work.

    Can I ask which websites/apps you use?

    Hope you are well cc

  • Suz

    I completely agree with everything you say. I too feel exactly the same. But there is always someone out there that will judge dont they! Such a lovely read! Thanks for sharing! Suz x Beauisblue.com

  • LittleOandme

    I can really relate to this. I used to be a bit judgy too, which was ridiculous really! Oliver has learnt so much from using the I pad, and I let him have a go most days whilst I grab a shower. I occasionally feel guilty but as long as it’s in moderation I think it’s fine 🙂
    Becky xx

  • Morna

    I’m so glad your boys are finding the iPad useful. I think it can be a great learning tool and you are obviously using it as such. I am a big fan of the iPad and I never judge parents who I see using it- probably because we use it so much too! #twinklytuesday

  • Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk)

    Since I became a mother I started to understand parenthood slowly. Have done things that I have said I wont do and slowly understand other parents and what they need to do. I learned to respect other parents too knowing how hard it is. Respected their decisions. I also let my son use tablets and my laptop. I just feel like this is a part of his generation and I need to make him expose to technology early on. But I try my best to balance this by going out and doing other activities too. =)


  • Madeline

    I’m all for kids using technology, my son has learnt a huge amount from playing educational games on my iphone, and now my ipad. Of course we don’t want them glued to them all the time, but I really do think they can be a great educational tool (as well as sometimes buying us parents a bit of peace!) x #twinklytuesday

  • Unhinged Mummy (aka Janine Woods)

    I can totally relate with all that you wrote. I also used to think I wouldn’t allow my child much screen time but actually the TV has helped so much with my sons speech. My son just wasn’t interested in books and would not engage in play with me no matter how hard I tried but once I started letting him watch a bit of TV (Thomas and Peppa pig) his speech suddenly really started progressing and then I realised that he has to be really motivated by what he loves otherwise he just switches off. He now watches more TV than he should, but I can honestly say that it has done him no harm at all. Quire the opposite actually and recently he has started to engage with me, show more interest in books and has even began doing some imaginitive play. Since watching more TV he is speaking more and more every day. For Christmas I plan on buying him a tablet and filling it with learning apps based on Thomas and Peppa Pig.

    (Stopping by from #twinklytuesdays linky)

  • Gemma

    I think everyone is judgmental before children but once you have kids it all changes! Don’t worry about what people think. You know what is best for your children 🙂

    Gemma xxx

  • Jen @ 4128 miles

    Wow – that’s great to hear! We haven’t moved past cartoons on the iPad so I’d be really interested to hear about the educational stuff you’ve managed to download. I’m about the go back to the UK on my own (flying with a 2 year old and big bump) and anything that can keep my little man entertained would be fab! Maybe you can do a follow up post on what exactly you’ve found and what he enjoys the most? I’d love you to!
    I think tablets should have their place in any household and form part of what our kids can play with. They now use them at most schools, so why we beat ourselves up about them at home is beyond me! However, I do think some rules need to exist as I know how addicted to mine I am, so just as long as it is part of their toy box, rather than the only thing they want to play with – like ever – then is great and we should celebrate using them! #twinklytuesday

  • Elaine @ Entertaining Elliot

    This is a great post and I agree with everything you have written! We have a family iPad that my almost 3 yr old uses and he has learnt so much from it….colours, shapes, new words, counting etc. We’ve even been trying out some basic maths apps for pre-schoolers which he loves! Ok so he also loves the kinder egg videos on youtube so I do have to limit his time on them!! xx #twinklytuesday

  • Becky

    I totally agree – I think to not allow children technology in this day and age is madness! We are limiting their ability to access something we all use daily – sometimes as a complete necessity and not a luxury! I feel similarly about TV – used correctly (i.e with some input from us to encourage discussion, craft or role play using TV as the stimulus), it can be a fantastic teaching tool (actually my most recent post was about just that, which is why I chose your post from #twinklytuesday to have a read of!)

  • Lisa Savage

    Amen to that. Oscar is also on the spectrum and he’s learnt more from the ipad than I could ever teach him. I know. I’ve tried. We’ve recently used a potty training app See Me Go Potty, that stopped him soiling himself within a day. My son is such a visual learner, but pictures that also move and talk (appealing to all senses) work better for him than anything else. I also do not limit his time for that reason. I do allow him to watch some shows on it however as we have found some of these to be as useful for his speech delay as games. I don’t have the Youtube app on there though, as he could happily fall into the rabbit hole and never come back out! Great post #TwinklyTuesday

  • Potty Mouthed Mummy

    I used to be that judgemental woman too until I had a child! So I know what you mean. I will firmly defend tablets/technology with my last breath because when you know how to set limits/protect little ones – well it’s an amazing tool. H is brilliant with laptops/tablets and he learns so much. Well done to Ellis for doing so well with it. You have my full support too! xxx

  • Talya

    Funny I have a post coming up on why screen time is not all that evil after all. I agree, I think screen time can be a fantastic way of learning things if it’s supported with all the other right elements. #twinklytuesday