the ipad


here is where i confess to you something i do as a parent that i'm really not proud of: i use the ipad as a crutch. i also use it as a bribe and a reward. i take it away as a punishment. most commonly, though, it serves as a virtual babysitter in times of utter desperation.

it all started last winter when we were stuck inside for what felt like months and months. she was bored and i was out of ideas. then, when edie was born and i was nursing constantly, i used it as a distraction. also, i felt guilty for turning her world upside down. (i was told by numerous other mothers of multiple children to not feel so bad about too much screen time while we were all adjusting to having a new baby around.)

well, here we are almost eight months later and marlo is fairly addicted.

she not only watches her favorite age-appropriate cartoons on there like peppa pig, daniel tiger, and princess sofia, but she also watches these weird videos on youtube where adults are playing with toys. (i'm not kidding you. some of them make a great deal of money with these videos, too.) not only is it unbelievably creepy, it's also created this habit of her asking if she can have whatever toy or doll or princess dress she sees being played with on one of those videos. i consider myself a minimalist when it comes to kids and their stuff and i find it unsettling to have a toddler constantly asking for more, more, more when she already has so much. while teaching her that she already has more than so many other people in the world is important and a work in progress, the source of discontentment is the current issue.

what i believe is most unsettling for me with this ipad debacle is how she seems so detached while she watches it. she goes in her room, sits by herself, and doesn't make a peep. she isn't using her imagination. she isn't playing with blocks or her dolls. she isn't coloring or reading books. she's being unimaginative, under-stimulated, and yet overstimulated at the same time.

i'm well aware that this is all our fault and i take full responsibility for the problem we've created. i used it in a time of need and convenience and it's come back to bite me in the ass. i've never made any claim to be a perfect parent and i'm convinced that no such person exists. but at the end of a long day, i want to be able to say that i tried my best as her mama and when she spends so much time in front of the ipad, i know i can't honestly say that i did my best.

it feels like i'm cheating.
like i'm taking the easy way out.
and i don't want to feel that way because i know that i can certainly do better.
it's my job to do better for my girls.

so, beginning january first, we're imposing a strict no ipad rule in our house for the indefinite future- or, at least until we kick the addiction and then find a healthy balance for it all. (i would impose it now but, hello, i have to pack and unpack boxes somehow!) she will still be allowed one show in the afternoons after school because i really don't think that some screen time is bad or harmful. we'll also do a family movie night with her after edie goes to bed on the weekend so that it can feel special for all of us.

and because i believe in practicing what i preach, i will also be changing my own technological habits. it sets a horrible example, i know. i'll do any computer/writing work while she's in school or while the kids are both asleep and when she's home and awake, i'll be the one on the floor with her building blocks or coloring in order to encourage more of the physical play, less of the virtual kind.

so, mamas, i'd really love to hear your thoughts!! do any of you have a no technology rule in your homes? did technology take over at any point and how did you kick it? have you (or haven't you) found a healthy balance for it all? i need and welcome any and all advice! 


Unknown said...

Technology is a tough subject in our house. My husband is a web developer, his father is a genius web programmer, and so my husband has always been exposed to the internet, computers, phones, any kind of tech gadget from an early age and as something thats completely normal, and even necessary for the future.
I on the other hand as a child didn't have a computer in my home until I was in the 5th grade, and honestly didn't use it much until high school. Idid a lot of music listening and playing on my own. BUT I am a huge TV watcher. Actually, come to think of it, both me and my husband watch a lot of TV. Mostly we play catch up on shows after Victoria goes to bed. We have always owned a TV and honestly probably always will.
My husband also really likes playing video games although he doesn't get the chance to as much anymore. He has brought up the subject of buying a kid friendly game console because he has such great memories of playing video games as a child with his brothers. I don't like this at all. whatever. anyways..
Victoria (my daughter, now 3.5 years old) I will admit even though it embarrasses me, has always watched TV. At first she watched some Disney Junior but I disliked the constant commercials and honestly felt like she was learning nothing from Princess Sofia and her crew. PBS Kids and Sprout were our favorites (that god damn Caillou though. ugh, such a little shit) because they didn't have any crazy commercials trying to get my kid to want stuff. At least they didn't at the time. I've seen some commercials pop up on these channels since. Also, the shows didn't feel like they were shoving weird and antiquated gender roles down my kid's throat. But eventually as she got older and started seeing kids interested in these other popular shows, and they later became available on netflix and hulu, so we would let her watch them here and there. I think I feel the same way as you, like i could do better. Victoria also got into watching those toy youtube videos which has lead to many magiclip dolls being purchased and lots of playdoh imagining (that part i don't mind). She did slowly stop watching those after a few months, but there were a few sick days last winter that i remember watching that shit for hours. I didn't feel good about that either.
My husband has an iPad for work that he sometimes lets victoria play with. She plays some kid games on it which are great and educational and I can see her learning stuff so it doesn't bother me so much. But the TV is our biggest issue.
I think for now i am making an effort to find a balance. I don't want to feel like the TV is filler and the sound is just always on in the back ground. I usually allow a few shows in the morning, and then thats it until later in the evenings now when we are watching some christmas shows/movies as a family. anytime I see she isn't actually paying attention to the tv, it goes off. Also on weekends we try not to put on any kids tv if we can help it. I try to get her outside every day and i make an effort to play with her a lot. She is crazy imaginative and playful and i'm thankful for that. never any tv or iPads at mealtime, and only things I find appropriate. She tried to watch a barbie show once and the way they spoke to each other was so infuriating, i shut that shit down so fast.
It's not perfect, and I have even busted out my phone at restaurants to put on youtube kids so she can watch peppa once her patience has run out, and I hate it. Basically I'm trying my beat to not let any of these tech things parent my child. a little is fine, but once i feel like I'm losing control and feel like someone else is babysitting her, i cut it off.

its all a work in progress! you're doing so good!

AgnieszkaH said...


First just want to tell you I really enjoy reading your blog with that down-to-earth attitude. Very refreshing!

I only have one child (3 year old girl) so I can only imagine how hard it is having a toddler and an infant and keeping it all healthy, organic, educational and whatsoever ;-)

Me and my husband work at home. I am a web designer - so we spent a lot of time on the computers. We have an iPad of course, iPhones etc. I guess I was always a little paranoid about overuse of phones and iPads (yeah I really am a web designer ;-) ) so I made an EXTRA effort to avoid just handing it to Alexandra. However, mind you, I have only one child and it was A LOT of prep work. Even now wherever we go my purse has everything in it - from mini dinosaurs, thru crayons, markers, mini coloring books and many 1$ store "gadgets" (children love to play with junk right?;-) which can give me 15 minutes when I need it.

Alexandra watches TV (I record shows - there is only ) for 45min- 1h in the morning while eating breakfast - that gives me enough time to do my workout because I really don't have any other time. And also after dinner I give her about the same amount of time which lets me and my husband finish that glass of wine and start on dishes or anything else. Some may say it's a lot but frankly, I don't care, cause with the amount of "quality" activities we do together my conscience is clear.

As far as iPad though, I let her use it but there is no pattern to it. I'd say on average she has ipad maybe 5-6 times in her hands a month. Of course I control the apps she uses - created a folder with her apps on the iPad titled with her name. She knows she can only access that. But because there is no "scheduled" iPad time she never asks for it. So sometimes when I am trying to do my make up I will say - hey want to color something on the iPad? And she always does. A couple of times when I took it away there was some tears but didn't last long and I always distract her with something.

If I need to keep her busy for longer than 20 minutes I turn on the tv and that's because I have a pretty energetic little girl(who doesn't... ;-) and gets bored - after an hour she starts wandering around the room. But with the iPad I noticed that if I don't take it away she would sit on it forever seems like... It's interactive and very addicting!

Other than that we make trips to the library a regular event and my house looks like children's library sometimes - from bathrooms (books piled on the floor) to her room and playroom etc. I never was a reader in my life but libraries in United States are just awesome! (I am Polish) With their story times and many other activities.

With all that being said I am sure that living in the house, with a yard, and walking distance to some playground etc. will expand your girl's activities for sure! Especially with all year awesome weather ;-) ( I am in South Carolina).

A small suggestion from me, new house with yard - how about you get her something for playing outside to replace the unhealthy habit with a better one. Something she couldn't do so much ( or at all) in the big city.

And one other thing that works for me.. For 1,5 year there's been a large flat storage box sitting in my kitchen filled with plain old white that's a hit! Indoor sandbox, construction site, cooking site whatever. That thing sometimes saved me 30-40 minutes... So it was a good investment in spite of the my husband asking (when I put 10lb rice bag in our cart) "are we going to have some Chinese staying with us..?".... ;-)

Good luck! :-) and Congratulations on moving into your dream home! :-)

Jasna said...

I am relaxed about it. I do not make any definite rules, we go with the flow. My son (4years old) watches cartoons every day and I am totally fine with it. I think some cartoons such as Peppa are very, very good for kids. Currently he watches a lot of Jungle Book series. He also watched those creepy toy opening videos for about two months and then he got over it somehow (thankfully :-). Also, I love that he uses technology at such a young age, such as laptop. I always remind myself that his generation was "born" with it and that it comes naturally to him, so I don't want to ban anything. One of my favourite quotes is from Khalil Gibran's "On children": "For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams." All the best! (I love your blog!).

Casey said...

Sometimes I feel like I must be the only mother with a child like this. Seriously, what is it with the toy unwrapping videos? Rylee watches those (and Peppa Pig too) but the voices of those adults are SOOO darn annoying. I've also been thinking about becoming more strict with screen time in the New Year but we've already made the mistake of putting a TV into Ry's play/school room. However it is not connected to cable, nor will it ever be. We have plenty of educational DVDs that I play for her, so figuring out the balance will be key- she is obsessed with the iPad and Kindle and it's hard to try to take it from her when she throws an ever loving fit. Educational apps used to work, but now it's straight Peppa Pig and those darn annoying toy opening vids. The child even blinks her eyes like the pigs 😳. Good luck with your move and welcome back to CLT!


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