I’ve always been a kind of “everything in moderation” Mom, so what I am about to say may shock you.
A couple of months ago, I stopped letting Jonah watch TV. Like, at all. For awhile previously I had him down to one show a day, and used that mostly as a reward for potty training. But soon I realized even that was too much. Even though he was only allowed to watch one a day, he obsessed over that one show, and he talked about it all day long. He has a really good memory, and he’d memorize parts of shows and walk around reciting those parts instead of talking and interacting with me and our family.
For a language-delayed kid, this is just not healthy.
So, we pulled the plug. We knew it would be hard, and it was, at first. But it wasn’t hard for very long. I was surprised at how soon he just stopped asking to watch. I was also surprised at how soon we saw an improvement in his language. Very, very soon we were able to see that we’d made the right decision. After a couple weeks, Jonah stopped talking about his shows and started talking about the world around him. Instead of re-living scenes from a Leap Frog adventure, he reminisces about our special “Mommy-Jonah” speech time we have together every day, or about what happened at school. And he observes and comments more on what’s happening around him as it’s happening.
It’s been kind of a bummer for the big kids never to be able to watch TV or play Wii upstairs in our living room, so we created a play area for them in the basement where they can do those things (on designated days). When Jonah’s older and past his delays, we’ll all be able to do those activities together again one day, and I hope then we can keep it moderated.
Because now, honestly? It’s really nice. Sure there are some days when I have a TON of work to do and I WISH I could just plop Jonah down in front of Netflix and buckle down, but the truth is, and I have SEEN this with my own eyes, that even doing that once in awhile is not ok for Jonah. Whatever work I have to do, or think I have to do, what’s best for him is vitally more important. And so I work around the inconvenience of not having a digital babysitter. I make it work. I stay up later, work in small spurts instead of one nice big chunk if I have to, and I hustle hustle hustle when he is at school. I make it work. We make it work as a family.
Bobby was more hesitant at first, he said to me, “I feel like we are taking away everything he likes.” (Because some other things that had a screen, even electronic kids books on kindle or an app, were also a problem). And he was right. But even he agrees that we immediately saw results – and now Jonah has NEW favorite things that are better for him.
I certainly don’t think screens are evil – like I said, my big kids still use them. But I don’t think they are good for kids with language delays, and I DO think they are probably used too much among kids under 5 today.
I wanted to share this with you because this is working for us. It was a hard decision to make, but I am SO glad we did. Jonah still watches a movie with us when we have family movie night, but other than that, he doesn’t watch TV at all. And it’s pretty great!
So, if this is a decision you’re mulling over in your house, I encourage you to commit to it and give it a try. It may not be what’s right for every kid, but it sure was the right thing for ours!
Have you ever done a no TV experiment? What were the results in your house?