the zombie kid

I didn't let Parker see a TV screen until after he turned one. I didn't allow him to watch TV shows until after he was two. I am very aware of the guidelines and recommendations that children should not be exposed to screens until after the age of five and then for only a very limited amount of time. That would be ideal.

But for us, that is not reality. We are cooped up often and we do watch TV, movies, and play on the iPad together. I make sure that what they see is both appropriate and has some sort of educational element. Our favorites are Curious George, Octonauts, and The Magic School Bus.

Now, Parker somehow convinced someone to get him the new Lego Movie game for the iPad - his very first video game. Last Saturday, I was making breakfast, checking some emails, and getting ready, when I noticed that Parker had been playing this game for two hours.

My stomach sunk. I took it away and we had a serious talk about how much time is too much time to be playing a game and about how it is easy to get sucked into something like that but that it is not good for his brain or his body to sit that long. I explained that I would rather him play Legos in real life, play outside in the snow, or read some books. He was upset and kept insisting that it was not two hours but only 20 minutes, that I was wrong and it was still morning.

So please tell me, how do you limit screen time for your kids, how do you encourage playtime when you are busy running around the house, and what should I avoid when navigating parental control? It is times like this when I just want to ban the TV from our house and unplug altogether. The few moments of quiet are not worth it if it turns my sweet Parker into a zombie kid glued to the screen.

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