My toddler son is finally of an age where the iPad and youtube are beginning to be a big draw. This is great, but I'd like to have some good guidelines from the start that allow him some screentime but prevent it from taking over too much of his life. I'm looking for a sense of what others have found works and doesn't work for them.
About a month ago, my son (who just turned 16 months old) all of a sudden "figured out" the iPad; he navigates from app to app and can use about a dozen different apps. He also loves it when we play music on youtube for him (current obsession: this cover
of "Africa" which I picked up from Metafilter). Great - more things for him to do!
Problem is, now we're trying to figure out what kinds of guidelines for limiting screen time make sense and are workable. We don't have an "in principle" objection to spending time on the iPad (or, to a lesser extent, watching youtube). We make sure to pick good apps and only videos we think will be "good" for him, and figure if it's engaging and non-passive, it's not a bad thing in itself (e.g., usually when watching music videos we'll "play" music along with them). We don't have a TV.
So, fine. Not worried about content per se. However, we still don't want screen time to take up too much of his time; there are so many other things a toddler needs to be doing. But just the vague guideline of "not too much" isn't very useful; we are most successful if we have something more concrete to stick to (e.g., "screens only in the evening" or "only half an hour a day" or something). Problem with the former rule is that it's nice to be able to take an iPad with us when we go to restaurants, which we do frequently, and the problem with the latter is that keeping track of how much time it's been is a pain in the ass and I know us well enough to know we won't keep up with it unless there are no other alternatives.
Also, more generally, I find myself a bit at sea when thinking about what amounts and types of screen time would be good, and how that could and should change as the kid gets older.
So... mainly what I'm looking for is a sense of what other people have done, and what you have found works for you or doesn't. Specifically:
What kind of limits (if any) have you set for screen time for your kids? I'm most interested in toddler age but I also kind of want a sense of how this will change with age so any ages are good. Bonus if the limits are easy for everyone to track and actually seem to work. I'd also be interested in hearing what didn't
work for you.
NB: I really don't want this to turn into a discussion of whether we should be letting him play on the iPad at all. I think it's fine in small amounts and engaging apps and am just interested in people's experience successfully setting reasonable limits.