How much screen time is bad for toddlers?

I’m sure I’m not the only one spending a little more time at home these days. Since being banned from the world outside I have seen so many articles, advice and accounts of homeschooling activities.

There is also a surge in the popularity of home crafts with kids. Hands on parents are teaching their little ones all sorts of skills from baking to creating their own toys and artwork.

I have joined in a little, making our own play dough, building a few bits from scratch and constantly finding more ways to entertain a toddler but there has been one major saviour in our house, the television.

You will often hear people talk about screen time for children in a very negative way and this is understandable. I would hate to think that when Robbie is at school age and can play outside that he would rather spend his time glued to the tv, but that is a problem for the future. Right now, it works for us.

So here is the part where you all realise that I am in fact the world’s worst Dad. Robbie has his programmes on all day, from the minute he wakes up until bedtime. Some will be shocked, others may think I’m lazy but I have my reasons.

I’m a believer that kids at Robbie’s age (19 months) are really not that bothered about most of the programmes anyway. For them it is just background noise with the occasional bit of imagery that will make them stop and take a look.

He spends his whole time running up and down, playing with us and generally being a monster! He builds blocks, races his cars and looking through his books generally oblivious to what the God in the corner of the room is showing.

So here is the important part. It is not the amount of kids screen time that is really important, but the quality of it. If you choose to put on some nonsense and leave your child sat in front of it, he won’t learn much. If you put on channels that teach them numbers, shapes and the alphabet and take the time to interact with them and teach then these programmes are fantastic.

We have a range of favourite programmes and channels that we use and a few that we avoid. As a rule, if it adds no educational value it doesn’t get shown. Some of the more popular kids continue to baffle me as CBeebies favourites such as Peppa Pig and Bing really seem to offer very little. At times they even appear to teach kids how to act like spoilt little brats so they’re out! We have even come across an American channel showing cartoons and singing about granny shooting her pistol, how does this even exist?

Dancing along with Badamanu

It may be stretching the truth a little to say that there are any shows for toddlers that I truly enjoy but there are some more tolerable than others. My favourite of them all is the Badamanu kids YouTube channel which is full of far too catchy songs that we dance around the room too. Every Badamanu song teaches something too, there are no annoying spoilt examples to be followed so it ticks all the boxes for us.

There is one rather divisive character that has moved into our viewing schedule though. I have mentioned him before so won’t go on but Blippi is an experience all parents must face at least once. When we first saw him, my instant reaction was to get this rubbish off the screen. Robbie disagreed.

My nemesis…. Blippi

Some credit to the man child though, his shows are ever so slightly educational. Many parents love it and feel he offers enough learning but he will never be a top pick for me. I’ll stick with Bada thanks.

We have even been lucky that our Hartbeeps teacher is doing online classes which has been a huge hit with Robbie. Although it is not quite the same as being there with the other kids, seeing his teacher brightens Robbie’s day! The livelier among us could even squeeze in a little bit of Joe Wicks in the morning and many, my wife included, would never want to leave the house again.

These are just my views. I am happy for my son to have his tv on all day every day as long as the programmes are educational and it doesn’t stop him from terrorising us. Each child and family is different and I’m sure my view will change as Robbie gets older. But for now, it’s time to dance again so I’m out! Thanks for stopping by, Steve.

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7 responses to “How much screen time is bad for toddlers?”

  1. I completely agree on the quality of the content. My daughter’s vocabulary has improved tremendously, it’s almost shocking to hear a 3.5 year old talk in “propha” English (Thanks to Peppa)


  2. Great post, and am totally the same with my 18 month old boy. But the wiggles… are something that need dosing as he will literally sit and stare ALL DAY and not move lol. There must be some kind of drug in that show hahaha. But yeah, any other show it’s pretty much on all day and he will just play. Someone needed to say it and YOU DID, thank you lol! Everyone’s always cramming the complete opposite down parent’s throats & ugh, I just don’t fully believe what they say lol. It IS about quality not quantity 🙂 Well said!


  3. I share the same opinion as you do, there’s nothing wrong with having the TV on if it’s educational. There is so much shame around screen time and I don’t think it’s necessary. If you’re mindful of what your children watch then it can be beneficial for them as well as you. Thank you for linking up with #KCACOLS.

    Katrina x


  4. My son’s speech therapist recommended my son to watch TV as it helped with his speech. There are so many educating and fun programmes where even I as an adult. Learn such as horrible histories. Granted it is for the older child, but thankfully a lot more interesting programmes compared to the early days of peppa bloody pig lol #kcacols


    • Peppa pig is awful! To be honest I find so many of the mainstream programmes are full of bad messages. Peppa, Bing and countless others are just spoilt kids and I don’t want my boy seeing them as role models


  5. Our son was allowed to have the telly on a lot when he was younger too (and he still has a lot of screentime nowadays). Personally I don’t like having background noise on all the time, so if nobody is watching it, I’d rather turn it off. But I agree with you that the important thing is that it doesn’t take preference over play and other interactions. We allow plenty of screentime, but also make sure to have a decent dose of ‘greentime’ (=getting outdoors) every day. It’s all about finding a balance that works well for the child as well as the parents, I think? Thanks so much for linking up with #KCACOLS!


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